The Internet of Things (IoT)–rapidly becoming the cornerstone of organizational forward-thinking technology strategy–represents the epitome of distributed computing at scale.

According to a study by the GSMA (in partnership with Machina Research), it is projected that the number of total connected devices will reach 24 billion worldwide and the potential business impact will reach $4.5 trillion by 2020. Delivering on the promise of IoT is placing acute pressures on organizations to redefine the way in which they build out their IT & Networking infrastructure. The sheer magnitude of connected ‘things’ will drive an unprecedented level of network traffic, expose a whole new range of security vulnerabilities and vastly increase the complexity of delivering end to end solutions.

In this world, the network becomes a key enabler for scaling the infrastructure and mitigating these risks.

Citrix NetScaler powers the networks of many of the leading-edge companies that are some of the key players in the IoT market–cars, industrial automation, consumer devices and cloud–so we have already been working with some of the leading minds in this industry to both contribute and learn from the experience. What we have found is that the role of NetScaler in this architecture was extremely important; just think about what happens when hackers try to DDoS a fleet of cars or exploit security vulnerabilities in a mesh of security cameras?

In moving to this new paradigm for delivery networking, concepts such as Global Server Load Balancing, Surge Protection and Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) protection remain equally as valid if not even more important. And things are just starting to get interesting.

Driven by the requirement to process IoT data close to the edge of the network, IoT companies are being forced to rethink how they intelligently distribute both compute and network functions to maximize operational efficiency. The co-location of these capabilities at the edges of the network–which need to scale out in a fluid and flexible way–is driving the rapid shift toward compute and network virtualization and automation deep within the network.

To tackle this need, we recently announced NetScaler CPX (NetScaler in a Docker Container) integrated with NetScaler Command Center, which enables a highly optimized delivery vehicle coupled with a highly scalable management system to help with the fine-grain distribution of policy enforcement that meets these stringent demands. But that’s not all.

Today’s IoT data-handling is broadly thought of as an exercise in data collection and aggregation, specially at the network level. However, in our conversations with customers, we found that IoT data is actually predominantly events, creating a paradigm shift from traditional Application Delivery towards Event Delivery. By treating the incoming information as first class events, we can unblock the barriers to richer policy, performance, security and adaptation capabilities within the network.

While this can be perceived as a subtle shift, it’s far from it. Whereas Application Delivery is characterized as handling billions of application transactions, we look at Event Delivery in terms of trillions of events. Additionally, traditional app delivery is mostly about traffic moving in a north-south axis (from client to server), Event Delivery needs to consider all points of the compass: north, south and east, west.

To compound the problem, there is an array of specialized communication protocols emerging to meet the need to connect these lightweight ‘things’ into the IoT infrastructure. The need to support protocols such as MQTT, CoAP and AMQP natively within the Event Delivery Controller will be critical to ensuring the efficient and secure handling of IoT traffic. Without this, IoT infrastructure will never scale.

Moreover, while the IoT server-side applications will evolve at an unprecedented pace, many of the distributed devices will have intrinsic limitations in terms of capability and upgradeability. If not built correctly, this has the potential to dramatically drive up the cost of actually running the systems.

This creates new challenges and brings a whole new set of problems that will need to be solved. How this data gets blended at the application layer, to permit a homogeneous application approach, is equally critical. The potential for such impedance mismatch is greatly mitigated by intelligence at the event delivery layer, ensuring these devices remain securely connected as the infrastructure around them continually evolves. Customers want to choose a single type of infrastructure that can handle multiple, evolving applications and protocols.

There is no question that IoT represents a phenomenal new business opportunity, but, it does not come without its risks. We strongly believe that this new era of event delivery networking will be a significant contributor to the overall success of IoT. Secure app delivery is at the heart of Citrix DNA and we will continue to drive the innovation to carry this philosophy into the age of IoT. As an existing NetScaler customer or as someone looking to move to our leading platform, you can rest assured that we are actively involved with all the next generation of technologies that are having an impact on the application and infrastructure markets.

Interested in learning more about how to leverage NetScaler ADC as part of your IoT infrastructure? Contact your sale representative or partner for more information.