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The New IP: How Software-Driven Platforms Change the IoT Scene

This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide Your Questions Answered: The Internet of Things in Government. Download the full guide here.

Federal government is benefiting in a number of ways from the sensor-driven Internet of Things (IoT) – it's enabled government to take advantage of traffic lights, sensor-monitored building facilities for power and energy conservation, and even drones on the battlefield.

However, with so much new information being processed, government is desperately in need of infrastructure that is capable of supporting all the data in various networks. That’s why everyone is talking about the New IP – network technology that is able to support IoT at the platform level.

In an interview with GovLoop, Stephen Wallo, Chief Federal Solutions Architect for Brocade, a technology company specializing in data and storage networking products, shared how the New IP can enable government agencies to better take advantage of IoT capabilities.

First, Wallo emphasized the need to address government’s current network architecture systems. “When you look at IoT, somebody has to manage all that additional information so the fundamental premise of the architecture also has to change,” he said.

The problem is with government’s tendency to cling to legacy infrastructure for security purposes, agencies are likely to add more hardware solutions to process the information. This, however, does not solve the problem. Wallo explained that in addition to the burden of keeping up with IoT networks, this adds operational cost expenses. Rather than having networks of IoT monitor themselves, agencies can be locked in with vendors they need to monitor such networks.

That’s why agencies need software-centric solutions. “Software-centric networks relate to universalizing environments,” Wallo said.

“Instead of having hardware boxes everywhere, virtualized network functions allow you to more easily place the service where you need it and when it is required. In addition, software-centric networks give you the agility and ability to easily accommodate new, incoming data.”

By simplifying and automating network processes, the New IP encourages innovation and accelerates speed of service delivery, allowing agencies to take advantage of mobility and gives them flexibility with cloud and big data technologies.

The software foundation of the New IP gives programmatic control over complex tasks as well as tight integration with organizational support systems and end user applications. It’s an agile platform that helps government embrace tomorrow’s innovations while maintaining strict adherence to security policies and considerations.

The second important component of the New IP is open standards. “This is about how you want people to gather the information and how you decide who’s supposed to see what,” Wallo said. Vendors need some common way to communicate amongst a variety of sensors. “The whole point of open standards is you enable different vendors to interoperate together,” he added.

The final component of the New IP is virtualization. Virtualization allows you to innovate on the spot and easily make any changes to your networks without needing to enlist the help of a vendor or your already busy workforce. “The more you can virtualize elements, the cheaper it is to be able to update or change software at a moment’s notice,” Wallo said.

Virtualization in IoT gives agencies more flexibility and agility with your networks by allowing an organization to be ecosystem-driven and more holistic. Moving beyond a dependence on single-vendor limitations helps government tap into the vast pool of resources needed to keep pace with private sector innovation.

Wallo said that, ultimately, the New IP opens the door to “best-of-breed” solutions such as security software that routes network-wide traffic based on a holistic infrastructure view and real-time alerts, rather than inefficiently routing traffic through proprietary legacy hardware. This allows government to build the network and services desired while moving faster and more efficiently.

Brocade provides a Five Step Network Innovation Model that allows organizations to take advantage of the New IP:

1. Audit existing technology to ensure that it’s aligned with organizational goals and network priorities.

2. Implement automation that accelerates application delivery and reduces network downtime through an optimized cloud.

3. Increase agility by creating a service-oriented IT environment that enables real-time response to market change.

4. Take advantage of intelligent services and analytics to gain the insights that help speed change, reduce risk, and deliver innovation.

5. Understand that success depends on network modernization and innovation.

In order to modernize, government needs simplicity and cost-efficiency. That’s why innovations like the New IP are especially important in helping government acclimate to new IoT networks and technologies. When government focuses on software-centric platforms, open standards, and virtualization, the possibilities of IoT can be limitless.

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