Are you overwhelmed with the Internet of Things (IoT)? You may not be yet, but the odds are better than good that you’re soon going to find yourself with more devices than you know what to do with. The growing trend to turn everything into something smart is getting out of hand. I saw an ad today for a smart range hood with a built-in system that can connect to Youtube. I guess it’s so you can watch cooking videos while you’re cooking?
On the enterprise side of the house, you’re going to find more and more IoT devices entering your workplace. If you’re in healthcare you’re already up to your eyeballs with them. If you work in manufacturing, you’re also going to have a lot more than just a few workstations to configure. As more and more devices hit their replacement cycle, IT managers are asking how people can efficiently do their job with something new. Building HVAC systems are being upgraded with smart controls. Workstations are becoming tablets. Things with traditional keyboards are giving way to intelligent devices with limited inputs.
The bigger issue is that these devices are also restricted to the information they can provide to the network. It used to be that installing a device required knowing the right parameters to make it function optimally. Opening ports and configuring frame sizes weren’t out of the ordinary. Now? Just make sure there’s a way to access the cloud over TLS and everything will work just fine. But is “just fine” the best way for something to work? And if not, how can we interrogate a device to find out more about how it should be configured?
The Wisdom of Learning
You’ve no doubt read up on Nyansa in some of my previous posts. I’ve been following the company since its initial launch back in 2016. They were acquired by VMware earlier this year and folded into the VeloCloud (now VMware SD-WAN) side of the house. I thought this was a curious place to put them based on their reputation for analytics. Why not put them into the greater NSX portfolio and let them provide that data to all of the tools running the network?
Here is a presentation introducing VMware Nyansa from Mobility Field Day 5:
Stepping back, I realize now why Nyansa’s analytics capabilities are more important to SD-WAN. Remember how we talked earlier about IoT devices needing less and less configuration to work on the network? How are you supposed to know if they’re working optimally if they won’t tell you what they need? You’re going to have a very hard time finding out information if you can’t log into the device to judge the performance. And harder, still, if there’s no way to tweak it to see how things respond.
With Nyansa, you learn by observing. You can see the communications patterns of the devices and you can figure out what they’re doing. You can see which servers they are talking to and which ports are being used. You can see how often they need to talk and what kind of link quality they are expecting. You can learn all about what they won’t tell you by watching what they’re doing. This kind of intelligence allows you to handle devices that you can’t program.
So where does SD-WAN come into play? Well, you’re going to need to find a way to configure the network to allow these IoT devices to operate correctly. You can spend your time futzing around with the switches and routers running along your network to customize the traffic settings. Or, you could do the smart thing that most people have already done and put the IoT devices on their own network to isolate and protect them. What better way to create an isolated network than with an SD-WAN edge device? Now, your IoT devices are safe and secure and the traffic optimization can happen in the edge device without affecting the rest of the network.
With Nyansa’s analytics, you can ensure that your devices are operating correctly with the best possible settings. Because Nyansa can aggregate information from other users of similar devices in their dashboard, you can also be sure that as new devices appear, you have the best possible configuration to increase their performance based on all the measurements taken by users of Nyansa and VMware SD-WAN.
Bringing It All Together
IoT is maddening on the best of days. Taking away control and configuration is the antithesis of network engineering. However, the network can give us the tools to make things better. All we need is some information about what we need to program into the network. Nyansa has a great track record of doing this for wireless users already. Adding their formidable capabilities to a platform like VMware SD-WAN is the best way to enhance the growing explosion of IoT in our enterprises and show the value of SD-WAN.
For more information about Nyansa and their integration with VMware SD-WAN, make sure to visit their website at http://Nyansa.com. You can also see the rest of their presentations from Mobility Field Day 5.