Suprise! The internet of things doesn’t necessarily include the internet

When the now-familiar concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) was new, what we really were envisioning a massive deployment of “things”, mostly sensors, connected directly to the internet and, like the internet, available to many companies to form the basis for new applications. Neither the business model nor the privacy/security issues of that approach were easily validated, so we’ve fallen back to something that largely takes the internet out of IoT. 

But what replaces it?

Answer: The Network of Things or NoT, and if you’ve never heard of that concept, you’re at the first step of understanding the problem.

The real NoT falls into two main categories. The first is consumeristic and is also used by small to mid-sized businesses and even enterprise remote offices. In this model, Wi-Fi is used to connect devices to a vendor website, which then provides users with access to their technology to monitor and control them. The second mode, the one enterprises are most likely to adopt, uses a variety of highly specialized protocols designed for IoT alone. It’s these protocols that build the real network of things, and most network professionals know little about them.

Real IoT protocols are a mixture of proprietary and standard technologies. The great majority of them are designed to operate on unlicensed wireless spectrum at a very short range, maxing out at a couple hundred feet. They work on the same principle of discovery that router networks use, picking the best route by discovering network topology, but the implementation is very different. First, there’s that short-range problem. Router networks work over global distance where IoT networks work within a facility.

The need for monitoring

The big problem is that those wireless IoT networks don’t come with a sniffer to detect the signals and decode the messages, so network professionals can’t actually monitor the network to see what’s happening. They have to rely on what the IoT hub sees, which means that if a sensor or other element isn’t able to reach the hub it’s just off in the wilderness somewhere. First, you need to get the hub and the IoT devices at least talking, and if you do, you can see what the route is and how strong the signal is.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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