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Traditional networks vs. IoT networks: What's the difference?

An enterprise network is a system of interconnected devices that share information, while IoT is a system of devices connected to the internet that provides key analytics.

IoT offers enterprises improved visibility, automation and operational efficiencies. Organizations that have begun to investigate the potential of deploying IoT must review the various IoT sensors but also how those devices connect to and communicate with IoT server applications.

Most people assume IoT networks simply connect to traditional corporate LANs. While this is true in some situations, IoT network connectivity takes a broader approach to the network and expands connectivity options.

What is a traditional network?

Traditional enterprise networks typically consist of the following components:

The LAN and WLAN are private wired and Wi-Fi networks typically deployed within corporate offices and branch locations. The WAN is responsible for secure connectivity between the LAN and branch offices. Finally, the internet edge is one or more points where ingress and egress traffic can reach the internet.

What is IoT?

IoT is a collection of autonomous devices connected to the internet that enterprises can deploy to automate a number of business-related tasks. IoT devices use various sensors, monitors and other techniques to collect data. The data then travels over the internet to a central repository management application for analysis. Depending on the role of the IoT system, it can use the analyzed data to either kick off automated responses or make various business-related decisions.

IoT devices can use standard Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or a host of other wired or wireless connectivity and standards-based or proprietary network protocols. This variety enables greater deployment flexibility, as IoT devices can often operate across low-bandwidth links.

Traditional networks vs. IoT: How do they compare?

IoT systems aren't the same as traditional networks, but they use network connectivity to operate. Devices in IoT systems rely on network connectivity to capture data that travels to centralized servers for analysis.

IoT devices can also react to various feedback based on processes driven by a centralized IoT management system. However, unlike traditional enterprise components, IoT architectures and devices can be distributed across wide geographic ranges.

Enterprises commonly implement IoT sensors across traditional enterprise wired and Wi-Fi networks for communication access. However, organizations can also place IoT sensors on nontraditional networks, including public and private cellular, Bluetooth, Zigbee and Long-Range WAN.

Users can also place IoT devices within home networks as long as they can reach IoT management services across the internet. Because of this, IoT can expand far beyond the reach of a traditional network, which makes it a flexible option for network deployment.

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