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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

UNH-IOL tackles IoT: It’s a jungle out there

 
January 12th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Are you building the IoT?
Then you already know it’s a jungle out there.

Happily, the University of New Hampshire is offering an interesting service that should help. They’ll test your IoT device to see if it meets current Internet Protocal standards. Of course, understanding such a service presumes there are any standards in the first place – there are many, some very controversial – and also presumes you know how those standards are described within a veritable jungle of acronym-laden jargon.

But before we run through that rain forest of gobbledygook, let’s first review what the goals of the UNH InterOperability Lab are in establishing their IoT IP Testing Service. Those goals were laid out during an online press conference in December  when the folks at the lab explained what they want to accomplish: Foster industry-wide collaboration, provide an extensive testbed for evaluating IoT devices, and train the engineers of tomorrow who want to help build the IoT.

These are clearly commendable goals, and the people behind the effort seem nothing if not cheerful and upbeat, but to fully understand what they’re doing you’ll first need to slog through the acronyms. Buckle your seat belt, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

* IETF: The Internet Engineering Task Force is a large, open, international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture
and the smooth operation of the Internet. They hold 3 meetings per year and have various subgroups, including :

* IETF IESG: Internet Engineering Steering Group

* IETF IAB: Internet Architecture Board

* IETF ISOC: Internet Society, oversees IESG & IAB

* IPv6: IPv6 increases the IP address size from 32 bits to 128 bits to support more levels of addressing hierarchy, a much greater number of addressable nodes, and simpler auto-configuration of addresses. The scalability of multicast routing is improved by adding a “scope” field to multicast addresses. And a new type of address called an “anycast address” is defined, used to send a packet to any one of a group of nodes.

All of the above definitions are from the IETF itself.

Nonetheless, a little simplification from Wikipedia might help:

* IPv6: “Internet Protocol version 6 is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol, the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet. IPv6 was developed by the IETF to deal with the long-anticipated problem of IPv4 address exhaustion.”

Are you still with us?

If you are, we can now return to the UNH-IOL’s December 8th announcement.

We already know they want to accomplish good things, but technically speaking, what do they want to do?

Well, they’re starting an IPv6-Ready IoT Logo Test Program. If your device is tested by the UNH-IOL and passes, they’ll stamp it with the IPv6-Ready IoT Logo and your product will be certified to more likely to be excellent when placed out at the edge of the IoT.

And this is critical because – again per the December Press Conference – IoT solutions have become an important driver in network design.

According to Gartner, almost 21 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. Companies deploying IoT solutions may not be in the business of networking and will therefore need guidance and education to participate accurately in the IoT market.

Hence, the new UNH-IOL IP Testing service currently includes:

* Interoperability testing between home gateways and wireless routers – and they’ve got of instantiations of these things in their labs, so your device can tested on lots of different platforms.

* IPv6 Ready Logo testing

While UNH-IOL IP Testing service eventually will include:

* Testing in areas such as 6LoWPAN, 6TSCH, and Security Protocol Testing.

Wait, what??

Yes, more definitions are required:

* IPv6 Ready Logo: Utilizes the IP core “must” test cases with the addition of privacy addressing and DNS, as well as conformance and interoperability component.

* DNS: Domain Name System, a working group associated with the IETF IAB

* IPv6 Forum Logo Program: A trusted test program that verifies protocol implement and validates interoperability as per the IPv6 standard.

* 6LoWPAN: IPv6 Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks

* 6TiSCH: An open standards-based architecture, which will work to standardize the missing components to achieve industrial-grade performance in terms of jitter, latency, scalability, reliability and low-power operation for IPv6 over IEEE802.15.4e TSCH. The scope of the 6TiSCH architecture is an IPv6 multi-link subnet that is spread over a high speed powered backbone and a number of IEEE802.15.4e TSCH wireless mesh networks connected to the backbone by synchronized backbone routers (BBRs).

Oh, and by the way …

A new Working Group called 6TiSCH has being recently formed within the IETF [6TiSCH WG]. It aims to link IEEE802.15.4e TSCH [IEEE802.15.4e] capabilities with prior IETF 6LoWPAN and ROLL standardization efforts and recommendations.

Hmm. Are you lost yet?

If not, please absorb all of the above and also note:

The UNH-IOL IoT testing services will allow for “interoperability testing with many different Broadband technologies including, but not limited to Docsis, DSL and WiFi” as well as “proving application interoperability including connecting to the Cloud.”

Ergo, the lab believes IoT vendors will be able to decrease issues in the field by testing both conformance and interoperability of solutions, and also will be able to educate and guide non-networking companies in making their networking choices.

Similarly, solution providers will be able to increase confidence in network deployments by providing multi-vendor environments for connectivity and interoperability testing.

Okay, let’s stop here.

It really is all pretty confusing, unless you fully understand everything already:

What it will require to create sufficient IP addresses, sufficient bandwidth, and sufficient interoperability such that all of those billions of nodes at the edge of this ginormous network can actually work together – a network, by the way, that’s expanding faster than the physical universe within which it’s being constructed.

Are you building the IoT? Yeah? Then you already know it’s a jungle out there.

Call the folks at the UNH-IOL if you need some help.


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Building the IoT …

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab is a neutral and independent lab that tests networking and data communications products for businesses across the globe.

It is a non-profit organization, 100-percent funded by commercial industry with over 150 member companies.

The lab was started in 1988 on the UNH Durham campus, an hour’s drive from Boston, and occupies a 28,000 square foot facility, with 4200 square feet of pre-wired space dedicated to Plugfests.

You can learn a lot more here about UNH-IOL.

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