mobile broadbandLarge business enterprises are hatching big plans to take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), but the anticipated “explosion in the number of connected devices,” reveals a lack of network capacity among many, according to new market research commissioned by network control company Infoblox.

Surveying 400 IT professionals in the U.S. and U.K., Coleman Parks Research Ltd. found that 90 percent of respondents’ enterprises are either planning or already implementing network solutions to manage the huge increase in traffic the IoT is anticipated to bring. According to Gartner, the installed base of “things” connected to the Internet will grow nearly 30-fold, to 26 billion units, in 2020 from 0.9 billion in 2009. “Things” in this context excludes PCs, tablets and smartphones.

Enterprises in large part appear prepared to carry out their IoT plans. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they have the budget to do so, and 75 percent said they have enough staff. Eighty-nine percent believe they are “very likely” or “quite likely” to see budgets increased in the next year as a result of IoT demands. Seventy-three percent believe the same when it comes to staffing.

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Eighty-six percent of respondents said they understand the added demands IoT will place on their networks. Nearly half (46 percent) said they expect IoT deployments will be folded into their existing IT network, yet 57 percent said their current network was already at full capacity. Fifty-four percent view network infrastructure management as a high priority for their organizations.

“It’s encouraging that the majority of IT professionals recognize the demands the Internet of Things will make on their networks,” Infoblox Chief Infrastructure Officer Cricket Liu was quoted in a press release.

“Network administrators have struggled in recent years to stay on top of the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend, and the IoT will create an increase in end points that is an order of magnitude greater. At the same time, many networks teams will have to respond to the IoT without significant increases in budgets or head count. Network automation will become crucial as IT departments confront this massive growth in network complexity.”

New security threats are also anticipated as IoT deployments expand. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents believe IoT to be a threat to network security. Thirty-seven percent believe such concerns are overblown and amount to hype.

“With so many objects and IP addresses being added, it’s important for network teams to keep track of what’s on their network at any given point, and also to bear in mind all these objects and IP addresses are potential weak links in an organization’s IT infrastructure,” Liu commented.

Enterprise IT staff are going to have a hard time keeping up and managing the much larger and much more diverse population of devices connected to their organizations’ networks, Infoblox highlights. Fifty-six percent agreed that it’s difficult to control where IoT deployments are taking place across an enterprise. Forty-five percent agreed that they don’t get “sufficient information from line-of-business teams to manage those deployments.” Nonetheless, 74 percent said their organizations have integrated IoT deployment plans, and that IoT deployments cannot be authorized without IT involvement.

“These results, while seemingly in conflict, align with what Infoblox customers are telling us anecdotally,” Liu elaborated. “IT departments have a seat at the table when business units—such as operations, manufacturing, marketing, sales and customer service—want to move forward with IoT deployments. But these business units often get deep into the buying process before calling IT, sometimes forcing IT to scramble to provide support for devices that lack the full set of connectivity and security protocols found in established categories such as PCs, tablets and smart phones.”

Infoblox recommends enterprise IT departments take several steps to assure network readiness in the face of IoT deployments:

  • Work to get IT a seat at the table early in IoT deployment planning, before buying decisions are made;
  • Set network access policies for “things” that prevent inefficient use of network resources and preserve network security;
  • Assess control and automation systems, to make sure the network team isn’t overwhelmed by manual tasks as IoT devices come on line;
  • Consider deployment of IPv6, or expansion of existing IPv6 deployments, to prevent the current global shortage of IPv4 addresses from delaying the introduction of IoT.

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