The Internet of Things (IoT) is on everybody’s mind and analysts expect billions of connected devices in the upcoming years. In order to meet the increasing demands of products for consumers and IoT solutions for companies and business customers, new standards for transferring data have to be determined.
Digital Transformation uses technology to digitalize current business assets or to open new business avenues drawing on the advantages offered by ICT. This concept encompasses a much deeper change in organizations than we are used to as, for many, Digital Transformation has more to do with user experience, customer relations or the use of electronic selling channels. And yet this is only part of a process that impacts the whole organization. (more…)
PRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) is a PLC (Power line communication) technology based on the ITU G.9904 specification. It uses OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology to provide an efficient physical connectivity to elements that make up a smart grid, employing medium and low voltage power distribution networks that already exist.
This week I have written the article below to be published in “ComunicacionesHoy”, a well known telecommunications magazine and online media website in Spain. As the article has only been published on ComunicacionesHoy in Spanish, Teldat has translated it into English so that all our non-Spanish speaking social media followers can also read it. I hope that you enjoy my article.
Even though, at first glance, opting for Internet access lines to build corporate networks seems like a sound decision cost-wise, the truth is this choice brings far more benefits when it comes to control, flexibility and user-friendly management.
By focusing on this much wider point of view, carriers have the opportunity of putting together a very attractive offer to ensure their clients benefit from the enormous range of possibilities this type of network has to offer.
Imagine we undertake a survey, asking CIOs of large companies with a wide network of offices or remote points (banks, insurance and travel agencies, distribution chains, etc.), what they would want to improve in their company communication network. Requests for a wider bandwidth would certainly arise, together with the possibility of selecting the network/access technology that best suits their remote needs, the use of multiple, efficient, redundant and simultaneous unfettered access, higher network intelligence to dynamically adapt to real time communications and the full atomization of operating tasks (to name but a few). Moreover, all respondents will ask to pay a fraction of the price they are currently paying (for communications based on MPLS networks) without compromising either SLA or security.
Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t, as you’ll see
The answer to CIOs’ prayers is SD-WAN, a communications architecture made up of different pieces of technology (some new, others not) that is able to produce a synchronized performance capable of satisfying the most exacting of CIO aspirations. The SD-WAN base is made up of internet lines and a further layer providing SLA said accesses don’t have, obtained from traffic engineering over several internet links or by maintaining MPLS access (using far less bandwidth for critical corporate traffic). SD-WAN is essentially made up of the following:
a) Virtual Private Network (VPN) over any IP access, MPLS or Internet, offering complete freedom to select your access technology (fiber, DSL, LTE, etc.), the highest security and without limiting the number of accesses used at remote points.
b) Traffic selection, in order to identify the applications that use the network and apply different policies (depending on the criteria of each application in relation to business).
c) Real time quality analysis of the access to remote divisions, based on traffic monitoring and usually through synthetic traffic (polling).
d) Network intelligence that makes it possible to dynamically adapt different applications over different accesses, depending on the policies defined for said applications and the state of the accesses.
e) Visibility of network behavior with respect to applications and the use of said accesses.
f) Centralized network control, which permits unified global parameterizing of behavior and automated provision of remote point elements.
Actually, much of this technology isn’t new. Applying traditional techniques you can, for example, use internet lines as an access method. Secure VPNs can then be employed to balance applications (depending on their granularity or access status), while obtaining greater visibility on network usage. However, implementing such a network using traditional methods would be a Herculean task! Given how complex it is to configure separate network elements so that they operate as a single network, just attempting it would be crazy. Here however, is where the SD of SD-WAN networks really comes into play.
SDN (Software Defined Networks) have clearly demonstrated their value in Data Centers, integrating different systems, automating both management and service chains, providing a virtual view of the network thus enabling global management from a single management point.
This same idea, applied to WAN, is what holds together the different pieces of this puzzle with apparent simplicity. While complexity still exists, it is hidden under a layer of abstraction that facilitates both the implementation and management of an SD-WAN network. Like SDN management, SD-WAN supports the simple, unified and central parameterizing of network behavior to adapt to new applications or modify existing application policies.
In this context, three SD-WAN product supplier groups have emerged: one being companies evolving from the connectivity sector towards SD convergence; a second, in direct contrast, proposing consolidated SDN solutions and extending these solutions towards the wide area network, and finally a third group, involving start-ups specifically focused on SD-WAN. Whatever the case however, analysis of this solution must be rigorous and should, at the very least, keep the following in mind:
a) To use open standards/protocols to ensure the network is not reduced to a single supplier.
b) Scalability for both network design and speed.
c) Capacity to cover network terminator features to unify access and SD-WAN features.
d) Appropriate traffic granularity to ensure the balance of applications (complying with business parameters) without compromising network performance.
e) Active polling to check the health status of network accesses regardless of traffic.
f) Centralized management tools for unified network design, provisioning and management.
g) Cost of network elements.
SD-WAN is still in the early stages of development, the real number of implementations being low. However it’s definitely on the radar for the majority of IT departments who are planning network migration. Significant SD-WAN growth is expected in the near future, firstly as a complement to MPLS and, in the long term, as an alternative and preferred network.
On June 30th 1948, The New York Times devoted a 4-inch article on page 46 to a new invention: “A device called a transistor, which has several applications in radio where a vacuum tube ordinarily is employed”.  The article unveiled what Bell Labs (the R&D Department of the American telephone operator AT&T) had been developing and patenting since 1947. This modest announcement of what was to become the central artefact of electronics, was followed by a relatively non-aggressive plan of action for introducing the product on the market. AT&T waived the royalties for transistorized hearing aids in honor of Alexander Graham Bell, a lifelong advocate for the hearing impaired. There were not many more applications for the transistor technology in sight.
By now IP devices are already more than just a fancy hype. The Internet of Things (IoT) will connect about 5 billion terminals and devices this year, with a rising tendency – in 2020 about 25 billion intelligent objects are expected to be connected to the Internet, about three times more than the world’s current population.
For end users as well as for business clients, IP devices such as smart phones, remote control tools, cars, refrigerators or even sports bands offer many advantages and are part of everyday life and this seems to be only the beginning.
Where there is light, there is also a shadow
Nevertheless, the growing vertical and horizontal expansion of intelligent devices enables on the one hand many new very practical functions, but on the other hand the increasing information exchange results in more possibilities and easier access for cyber criminals.
Devices in companies for instance which are connected to the business IT or even to systems outside the company, present a completely new target for manipulation and spying. Moreover, the increasing networking via the Internet of Things cause the risk that what were previously separate networks, will be opened for IP-based applications making them more vulnerable for manipulation. Besides, companies supervise a part of their IT by video cameras which are usually also IP-based.
Moreover, the sheer quantity of the different components in the telecommunication infrastructure and networks represent a challenge for security. Status information of all these routers, switches, etc. have to be gathered and processed, for instance in order to distribute the network traffic in an intelligent manner. The IP communication becomes more vulnerable by the increasing networking and the risk for security grows extremely in companies.
A solution in sight?
Regardless whether it’s an end user or business client, they both have to cooperate in order to achieve the best possible security. It is not uncommon that firmware is updated far too late or not at all. This habit can cause serious problems for IP based devices, because new security gaps cannot be closed in time before the next attack.
Of course not only the user is responsible to make sure that all IP devices are up to date and thus well protected against attacks. The manufacturers are also required to find the best possible solution. IP devices within the network for example, can be protected by the gateway. Teldat as a manufacturer for telecommunication devices has committed itself to develop its products continually in order to meet all demands from its partners and customers. The Internet of Things has already affected our lives and will affect it even more in the future. It shows how important it is (and will be even more in the future) to deliver new code on time in order to close security gaps.