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How do IoT sensors intersect with SD-WAN?

Most traditional WANs can't handle the increasing number of IoT sensors -- and the data they collect. But SD-WAN can help improve IoT performance and analysis.

One common theme regarding failed internet-of-things, or IoT, projects tends to be a lack of planning and foresight put into the underlying network. So often, the focus is placed on the configuration and deployment of IoT sensors, what data they're going to collect and where that data will eventually be stored.

While the network is certainly a key component when transmitting IoT data from point A to point B, proper network design for IoT is far more involved than many enterprises expect. This is especially true when IoT sensors are widely dispersed across a wide area network.

Many IoT use cases require real-time analysis of data that may be collected by dozens, hundreds or thousands of sensors. In most instances, the collected data is sent back to a centralized repository, where it is pooled and ultimately analyzed in various ways. Time is of the essence, and analysis requires fast and reliable connectivity between each of the IoT sensors and the data repository. Traditional WAN links may not be able to provide the network intelligence necessary to move IoT data across the WAN in the optimal method possible.

SD-WAN and IoT sensors

This is where IoT must rely on new technologies, like software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). The overall concept behind SD-WAN technology is to combine two or more WAN links with artificial intelligence, so data will traverse the optimal path toward its final destination. Network administrators primarily use a combination of internet broadband links and private carrier links, like MPLS. Once the WAN links connect the remote IoT sensors with the centralized IoT data repository, SD-WAN administrators can configure the WAN to identify critical IoT data, prioritize it and choose the fastest path from all connectivity options.

Traditional WAN links may not be able to provide the network intelligence necessary to move IoT data across the WAN in the optimal method possible.

SD-WAN technology helps enterprises eliminate unwanted WAN congestion or outages on WAN links by automatically detecting problems and routing around them, so IoT traffic can consistently move across the WAN without interruption. SD-WAN also helps cut costs in certain deployment scenarios. For example, SD-WAN technology use may allow IoT sensors to connect using two or more broadband internet connections.

Because of SD-WAN's ability to choose the best path, many enterprises are finding more expensive MPLS links unnecessary. So, not only can SD-WAN technology increase the performance of your IoT devices, it can also save you money.

This was last published in February 2018

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Why might your organization consider using SD-WAN to increase its IoT performance?
Because you don't have to back haul traffic to some remote internet breakout point when you can access the internet directly. In the other direction cloud services that need to interact with your IoT devices can reach them directly through the internet provided you have a decent SD-WAN enabled branch/site etc gateway.