Channel Partners

SPR 2016

For 25 years, Channel Partners has been a resource for indirect sales channels, such as agents, VARs and dealers, that provide network-based communications and computing services, associated CPE and applications, and managed and professional services

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COVER STORY the highway. Is that optimal? Probably not. Sometimes they're wasting money replacing a perfectly serviceable filter. Sometimes they're wasting money on fuel. A better option is for a smart vehicle sensor to notify the fleet manager just in time for optimal replacement — better yet, with a list of other maintenance the mechanic should do while the vehicle is in the shop. What's that efficiency worth on a monthly basis to a customer for whom mileage is money? These are the sort of examples that get repeated over and over in IoT lore. Simply put, data lets us act in more timely ways and run systems — any systems — at peak capacity. NIGHTMARE SCENARIO: IOT ZOMBIE ARMY A new trend in ransomware: massive distributed-denial-of- service attacks that can knock customers' websites offline and continue until they pay up. The platform to launch these attacks is made up of everything from PCs and servers to game consoles to refrigerators to light bulbs to sensors that use outdated and vulnerable versions of the protocol that underpins the IoT. "They are susceptible to compromise or exploitation of vulnerabilities within the protocol," says Gary Sockrider, principal security technologist at Arbor Networks and a speaker at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. "We think it's a no-brainer that a lot of SSDP- based attacks are exploiting Internet of Things devices." The answer is focusing on security when building the product, then patching on an ongoing basis. That may happen for expensive connected hardware; not so much in less costly and consumer-class products. "If you think about it, if you spend $50 or $100 on a consumer product, or less than that, there's really no good reason for the manufacturer to invest much in security, and even less reason for them to be patching and updating," says Sockrider. So what's to keep a customer's IoT sensors from becoming foot soldiers in a DDoS zombie army? Right now, not much. "Until these devices either start getting quarantined for bad behaviors or are coupled with, say, recurring service revenue so the manufacturer can justify continued patching, I think this is going to continue to be a big problem," he says. "At the end of 2014 there was the first ever DDoS attack that was launched via a compromised refrigerator. This Internet of Things problem is going to get a lot worse before it gets better." For agents and solutions providers, building in the recurring cost of patching IoT systems will boost profits while hopefully ensuring your customers' networks don't unknowingly become attack platforms. So without a doubt, there's plenty to the IoT hype. If you've been delighted by your ability to catch the cloud computing wave, or you've managed to capitalize on the explosive growth in mobile device ownership, then it's likely that you'll find IoT at least as good a bet, maybe better. One thing that a lot of IoT technology has going for it, in a way that cloud and mobility didn't, is an ability to calculate a real net present value of a project. In other words, you can predict and measure money saved or made by implementing many IoT technologies. That's the notion that has Cisco excited enough to calculate (or miscalculate) numbers like $19 trillion. So why aren't agents already raking in revenue? Verizon's Lanman sums it up: complexity. "You have to select what connectivity you're going to use to connect to the Internet," he said. "That's not an easy decision." Then there's device selection, software development, security, data analysis, privacy and data ownership; the list goes on. "It's no wonder that people with great ideas for IoT don't make it through all the barriers," he said. Of course, plenty of providers want to help, and we're here to discuss a few ways you can cash in now. But first, a word on those dueling numbers. Carriers, IT vendors, pundits and device makers have wildly different outlooks, like Verizon's 5.4 billion devices versus Juniper's 38.5 billion. We've been through this with cloud predictions, and it's easy to assume that if there isn't agreement, even within an order of magnitude, on the size of the market, then essentially the pundits and vendors are full of crap. But in this case, it's not nearly that simple. MANY SENSORS, FEWER CONNECTIONS One example that's been around for a while is a freight train application. As you can imagine, it's pretty easy to make the case that the faster a train goes, the more profitable it'll be. One limiting factor on train speed is wear on the wheels of each car. Historically, freight companies did a lot of predictive analysis to figure out when wheels needed to be changed, and just how fast they could go before wear would make it likely that the wheel would malfunction, possibly causing a derailment. In this instance, the worst-case scenario is really bad. Lots and lots of capital loss occurs if the train derails, not to mention possible human misery and a PR fiasco, so layers of safety controls and frequent (expensive) inspections are used to monitor wheel 18 CHANNEL PARTNERS DIGITAL ISSUE SPRING 2016

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