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Network connectivity: a key concern and opportunity for IoT solution providers

September 28, 2020

Network connectivity: a key concern and opportunity for IoT solution providers
The IoT market is exploding. Today, 147 new IoT devices connect to the internet every second. By 2025, the number of active IoT devices worldwide will top 75 billion, according to research firm IHS. Moreover, according to McKinsey and Company, the projected total economic impact IoT will have on the global economy is somewhere between $4 trillion and $11 trillion by 2025.
 
Let's put those last numbers into perspective. In just five years, IoT will represent or influence about 10% of the total world economic activity. IoT devices and systems will touch every aspect of business operations, work environments, public infrastructure and home life. And, IoT won't just be pervasive but essential—making persistent network connectivity and automated failover to backup systems imperative.
 
The consequences of network connectivity problems
Loss of network connectivity doesn't just cause disruptions. In some cases, the implications can be life threatening.
 
Consider the use case of Erasmus University Hospital. This medical facility in Rotterdam, Netherlands constructed new infrastructure that included 26 modern and digital “operating theaters.” The hospital decided to reduce the amount of paperwork and posters throughout the building by replacing them with digital displays and monitors connected to local and remote controllers.
 
These video and display systems are being used to show radiology imagery and test results and enable consulting physicians and students across the medical campus to observe procedures in real time without entering the sterile environment. This is a prime example of a case where network connectivity problems could lead to significant harm to patients undergoing surgical procedures.
 
Can true network reliability be achieved?
Technology companies like to talk about achieving five-9s reliability—a high mark, to be sure. In reality, however, network and service outages are pretty common nowadays. Rolling and widespread service cloud and data network outages are so common, in fact, that numerous websites track reports of down services.
 
Eliminating the possibility of a network outage or disruption is practically impossible. And when disruptions occur, businesses need a backup system to maintain mission-critical services until primary services are restored.

Through out-of-band network routes and 4G/Long-Term Evolution (LTE) wireless broadband transmitters, such as those manufactured by companies like Opengear, businesses can enable automatic failover to the broadband network in the event of power outages, carrier disruptions, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and other disruptions. This allows them to maintain effective network connections as long as the broadband network remains in operation.
 
Solution providers should take network availability, performance and redundancy into consideration when designing, building and supporting IoT systems. Understanding the customer's operational needs, the impact and cost of service disruptions, and performance expectations will lead to knowing where to install redundant service equipment and services. And once a network has been implemented, network connectivity testing is critical.
 
An opportunity for IoT solution providers
The combination of out-of-band network equipment and services offers solution providers additional recurring revenue from the sale of carrier data and voice plans. Many IoT devices require broadband connections, so adding out-of-band networking is a natural extension of the system's value proposition.
        
IoT is a lot more than sensors and controllers. Since all IoT devices will connect to a LAN, a WAN or the internet, ensuring persistent connections is part of the solution—and so is network connectivity testing and anticipating and troubleshooting network connectivity problems.

To learn more about the network connectivity implications of IoT and how Ingram Micro can help you realize the potential of IoT, contact us at us.iot@ingrammicro.com.