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The Internet of Things: A software distribution minefield in the making?

Posted on August 9, 2018 By In Microsoft News With no comments

In 2018, the ‘Internet of Things’ has rapidly moved from a theoretical concept to a tangible reality, with nearly 11 billion ‘things’ (not including phones and computers) now connected to the internet.

Going forward, says Stephen Dunkley, product manager at Kollective Technology, this interconnected web is only set to grow, with Gartner predicting that more than 20 billion IoT devices will be in use globally by 2020.

While many of these will be personal and household objects, such as wearables and smart home devices, there is a growing push for the IoT in industry and even within the office environment. From interactive displays to voice assistants, smart lighting right through to IoT-enabled thermostats, the Internet of Things is increasingly dominant within the workplace.

With the deluge of new internet enabled devices however, comes many potential network challenges for CIOs and IT managers. For every new device introduced into the workplace, IT teams must consider exactly how these devices impact the wider IT and security ecosystem. Each internet-enabled device will also require regular updates and patches to meet compliance protocols and guarantee that the organisation is protected against potential cyberattacks.

Following the move towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, enterprise IT teams are already struggling to keep on top of their growing and increasingly diverse list of employee devices. Now, with hundreds, or even thousands, of new IoT devices entering the workplace, this may be easier said than done.

Up until recently, IT leaders have been reluctant to introduce IoT devices into the workplace, with a myriad of security concerns overshadowing the devices’ overall usefulness. At the heart of this issue was a lack of centralised operating systems for the Internet of Things.

Where businesses can guarantee that all their computers and mobile devices run a single operating system (e.g. in a Windows environment or an Apple iOS environment), the Internet of Things offered no such luxury. In the early days of the IoT, most devices were developed by independent manufacturers, often using their own custom-built Linux operating systems. These custom OSs offered a concern for IT leaders, given that they rarely received security updates and were difficult to manage centrally and at scale.

In more recent years, the IoT market has evolved significantly with Google and Microsoft now offering fully formed operating systems designed specifically with the Internet of Things in mind. In the case of Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 10 IoT Core, businesses can now run IoT devices in the same Windows environment as their computer terminals.

This provides businesses with a unified ecosystem, allowing them to run simultaneous updates across all their devices. At the same time, IT teams can feel safe in the knowledge that Microsoft will continue to provide security patches and updates on a regular schedule.

While Microsoft’s IoT environment provides a more seamless and secure experience for businesses, it does not solve the larger problem of keeping so many devices up to date. Even with a singular operating system, enterprises will still need to distribute thousands of updates across their networks on an ever […]

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