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Industry Insights

Connecting the Internet of Things - IoT

Friday, August 26, 2016 | by Rudy Montgelas

This week’s CTD talks about the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Most likely, all of you have heard the constant industry “buzz” about the internet of things.  The IoT world is affecting all of us in our everyday lives as electronic systems, sensors, wireless devices and drones and robots, even our cars, are all getting smarter and connected with the goal of making our everyday lives more productive through the networking of these disparate devices with each other.  Everywhere you look today, people are tapping away on their smart phones, computers and tablets running applications (Apps) and programs that interact through the Web.

What’s an IoT device?

IoT devices are electronic gizmos, such as your cell phone, smart thermostat or intelligent doorbell that can send you a video every time someone approaches your front door. What distinguishes these as IoT devices are that they are uniquely identifiable and connected to a communication network, either wirelessly for mobility or hard wired through copper or fiber optic communications cabling.  They contain their own embedded operating systems, with software and hardware such as microprocessors, and they can make their own decisions based on their programming, to sense, collect, communicate and, exchange information in a local network or with other larger networks such as the Internet. 


How does this affect me?

Connected IoT devices can enhance your everyday environment1.  IoT affects our everyday lives by:

  • Creating and providing new experiences
  • Monitoring and adjusting environments
  • Improving or customizing products and services
  • Automating processes and services
  • Understanding businesses and analyzing their data
  • Predicting outcomes and taking appropriate actions
  • Managing assets and maintaining security
  • Enabling areal time support and maintenance

More and more of these IoT devices are rapidly appearing on the market and are being put to work for all of us. This is creating a huge impact on our local and worldwide networks, and the data centers supporting them, requiring more bandwidth, data storage and application processing. 

In addition, previously separate devices and infrastructures are converging onto the same network, utilizing standard category cabling to both network and power devices with Power over Ethernet (PoE). Intelligent LED lighting, because of transitioning to a low voltage distribution as opposed to traditional lighting infrastructure, is now able to be networked to other lights, sensors and devices, as well as be powered, over the same infrastructure as most wireless access points and VOIP phones are deployed today.


What’s a connected device?

A Connected IoT device senses and collects information from the environment and process or acts on its own to perform particular tasks.  It can be through a local network supporting Internet based software services and application services, commonly referred to as Apps running over connected hard wired or wireless communications networks.

These IoT devices usually sense, analyze and process data autonomously and communicate with the other devices or the Internet during or after processing the information as required. So, the speed at which information is sent and received, and the delays in obtaining that information, can significantly affect IoT performance.  That’s why it’s important to make sure that the network can adequately support necessary the communication link requirements.


Centralized versus Decentralized Networks:

There are two different network architecture approaches to providing a connected infrastructure: 

In centralized architectures, IoT connected devices transfer their data and processing requests directly back a centralized location, such as a data center serving multiple buildings or a data center serving just one, where the processing and storage of information is performed by servers running specific Apps. Requests for action and processed data are in turn sent back to the connected devices from these centralized applications.

In the decentralized approach, edge computing is enabled by Apps running on embedded processors in the connected devices and the gateways.  This assigns responsibility for computing and information processing to the IoT devices themselves.  IoT devices are not required to communicated back to the data center for instructions or data analysis. The information is processed locally so that network latency is not a major impact that affects IoT device performance. Only the transfer of critical information is required to be sent back to the data center.  This allows for faster processing of streaming data and links with other devices to accomplish tasks and allow systems to work autonomously by delivering information to the decision-making points faster and more efficiently.  The decentralized approach also reduces a “Big Data” communications impact since data can be scrutinized and processed at the edge first so that only the useful data need be stored in a data center storage area networks (SANs).



                The Internet of Things is placing significant demands on networks to the point where a high performance and reliable connected communications infrastructure is becoming more critical than ever.  Planning for the future when designing your converged power, light and data infrastructure will require careful consideration of many key design aspects:

  • The choice of centralized vs. decentralized networks
  • The need for PoE connectivity to power remote devices
  • High performance cabling systems to handle converged power and data
  • Sustainability and energy savings
  • Proper cable management & pathways
  • Scalable Telecom Rooms and data centers
  • Increased network security

See you in the next few weeks with another CTD.


1 Enabling IoT with the Infrastructure of Tomorrow, A Legrand Data Communications white paper