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The Challenges of IoT in the Workplace

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For many, the Internet of Things (IoT) seems to have been a long time coming but we are now at the point where most enterprises need to finally prepare themselves for it. In looking towards an IoT-filled future, corporate IT departments need to consider and address the IT management and security implications of the IoT, and the growing need for automation.

IT Management Issues and the Automation Challenge
To arrive at the smart-connected workplace of tomorrow, IT operations teams will need to tackle a number IoT-related IT management issues such as:

  • Service/fault management for IoT devices, which will no doubt increase the workload of already under-pressure IT support groups
  • Scale and network capacity limitations – not just the increased demand for IP addresses but also increased data volumes given the expected rise in intercommunication and autonomous M2M data transfer through IoT devices
  • The Big Data analytics needs, related to the wealth of new devices connected to the network

IT departments will also need to look beyond traditional IT management capabilities – such as availability and capacity management – to work closer with business colleagues on how IoT devices do, can, and will tie-in to business operations and business models.

This will potentially require more people and new skills. It will also increase the need for greater automation in IT management – as the IoT will create an IT management need that far exceeds most IT departments’ existing manual capabilities.

Potential Security Obstacles
It’s the security issue related to a whole new breed of network-connected end points – particularly given the media’s increasing interest in high-profile, blue chip company security breaches – which include:

  • Data security – There might not be sufficient security functionality embedded within the IoT device, due to a lack of local resources or capacity. This will of course change over time, but for now it needs to be addressed and security might instead need to reside within the web service in front of the device.
  • Message integrity and secure communication – We need to consider the route data follows from the IoT device. For instance, it might be via a local data collation hub – with the potential for sensitive data to be stored in insecure locations a concern along with any transmission-based security needs. As with most security breaches, the attack succeeds at the weakest point.
  • The issues associated with the use of third-party cloud service providers – A likely necessity given the potential volumes of M2M data. There’s nothing new for corporate IT organizations here, just the risks associated with things such as scale, identification and authentication, data access, and legislative boundary restrictions. It also ties back into IT management, as the IT professionals responsible for managing the third-party cloud services will need to not only monitor service levels and costs but also the adherence to security-based contractual terms.
  • Privacy – As with anything related to IT and data these days, IoT-related privacy risks will also need to be addressed – given that IoT devices will collect and aggregate data related to their operation (and business purpose). The constant collection and collation of differing data sets will no doubt, and should, lead to concerns about data privacy. This is again nothing new for corporate IT organizations; it’s just another facet of the Big Data challenge they probably already face.

So operational and security issues abound with IoT. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take a number of high-profile breaches to spur enterprises into action.




Edited by Ken Briodagh
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