In IoT Large Environment Scenarios, complexity of networks can be too difficult to handle. When communication nodes (sensors, actuators) are too many, overhead caused by network protocols can saturate any short-range wireless technology that needs multi-hopping (e.g. Zigbee, 6lowPAN, 6TISCH, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc).
A (sub-optimal) solution taken in the past ten years is to split (divide) networks in sub-networks, moving the burden of their coordination (impera) to an upper level (e.g. in the cloud) where processing power, and storage capabilities are not a hard limited resource.
A more recent solution is to rely on Low Power Wide Area Networks (LoRaWAN, Sigfox, LTE-M, NB-IOT, etc) that allow to achieve long range communication (no need for multi-hopping topologies) at the cost of reduced data rates.
However, owing to limitations in terms of available bands, and the long ranges covered by such technologies, the density of IoT nodes that will be served might turn out to be unsatisfactory.
So, scalability (in terms of node density) of IoT applications remains a relevant issue. Whoever will find solutions to the issue, will have a say in the IoT business in the mid term.
An aspect that can be investigated in order to solve the scalability issue can be the limitation in the growth of the number of IoT devices.
It sounds obvious but if it could be possible to “distribute” the sensing and actuating operations so that all the “things”, which already are implemented in a reliable network, can have the possibility to extend their functionalities without limitations.
This extension can be done thanks to the virtualization (Software Defined Network) of the processing functionalities of all the nodes, not only of the impera.
In fact, virtual world has no limitations and therefore is scalable by definition. Moreover, working at higher level is for sure more human friendly.
For sure, complexity gives a lot of opportunities. The passage from a complex scenario to an easier one is probably the most important challenge for managers and business men
A further step in the direction of “divide et impera” can be implemented: fog computing and mobile edge computing are decentralized infrastructures that essentially extend cloud computing and services to the edge of the network, bringing the advantages of the cloud closer to data sources. Could they represent a partial solution to the scalability issue in an IoT scenario?