That the cloud is the backbone of this IoT revolution goes without saying. Reports from the January 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) reveal most manufacturers equipping their devices, be it refrigerators, cars, dishwashers, running shoes, thermostats, and every other conceivable device massive cloud-based back end, to enable such devices to join the IoT bandwagon. The investment in cloud capabilities comes from the twin need to enable these devices to become “smart” by receiving and transmitting data, and to give these devices long-term value by making them instantly upgradable. The cloud facilitates both these IoT objectives.
For IoT to work, the connected device needs to communicate with other “things” and also with whoever holds the control strings. The “thing” connects with cloud servers to receive and transmit data, and store instructions and commands. At another pane, the “small” data from each connected yet disparate “thing” accumulate and become big data in the cloud. The convergence of huge quantities of critical data in a common cloud pane, accessible anytime and anywhere, enables real-time analytics.
The possibilities of such cloud powered real-time analytics to make life better, and for businesses to unlock new opportunities are endless. A few cases in point:
- Traffic controllers can source in small data from hundreds of IoT-enabled traffic signals, and subject it to real time big data analytics in the cloud, to ensure synchronized operation of traffic lights, and deliver seamless movement of traffic.
- Smart sensors attached to a pair of running shoes may clock the runner’s pace and notify them when it is time to replace the shoes. Small data from millions of such shoes would allow shoe manufacturers to predict demand accurately, and target prospects with precision.
- IoT-powered refrigerators can let the homeowner know when food products are reaching their expiration date, or when the stock is running out. It may also transmit data to the supermarket, who can then predict demand accurately, and get their inventory right. In fact, the refrigerator may send off a replenishment order to the supermarket automatically.
Millions of sensors embedded on things already monitor and track data of all hues, and deeper insights from the analysis of such big data facilitate better-informed decisions and responses, cutting across industries and sectors.
But is the cloud really necessary for all this? Can IoT make itself useful without the cloud?
The IoT ecosystem that enables the possibilities would not be possible without back-end cloud-based applications that churn, translate and transmit valuable intelligence.
With terabytes of data flowing in from millions of disparate connected “things,” the cloud is the only viable platform that can filter, store, and enable access of the required information, in useful ways.
The amount of incoming data from connected devices sensors often fluctuates widely. A sensor may generate 1000 KB of data in a day, 4TB on another day, and may not generate any data at all on a Sunday. The elasticity of the cloud enables scaling up or scaling down resources to absorb such wide fluctuations of data.
Hybrid cloud systems facilitate IoT-enabled services to communicate with geographically distributed back-end systems. This anytime anywhere connectivity is indispensable for real-time analytics, and to enable path-breaking business models and public services.
The cloud back-end does away with the near-impossible alternative of regularly updating thousands of individual “things.” Updates are a part and parcel of any system’s life, and is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
The built-in security of the cloud assures that data is protected and compliance standards are baked into the platform.
For all the enablers of the cloud, security remained a drawback. For instance, IoT enabled driverless cars, with cloud servers providing navigation instructions to car, but what if someone hacked into the public cloud server and send the passengers to Kingdom Come! Newer purpose-built clouds that device developers may share or use exclusively offers viable solutions to such security risks, combined with newer tools that protect from information leakage and iron out the few remaining chinks in the cloud armor.
The cloud and IoT being an inseparable couple cuts both ways. Even as the IoT requires the cloud to work, the cloud is evolving to better serve IoT. In fact, IoT is now a chief focus of the cloud.
As the number of connected devices increases exponentially, cloud infrastructure is on the threshold of a massive scale up, to accommodate the data swell. Unique, custom build hybrid cloud deployment models, leveraging the latest advances in software and networking, designed to meet the needs of customers’ unique workloads, enable IoT players to maximize the potential the cloud offers, without being hassled by availability, performance and security issues. Side by side specialized cloud-based service software, systems and skill development is in a boom phase, as is bandwidth improvements to facilitate transmission of data between “things” and the cloud.
A case in point, Microsoft’s recently launched Azure Functions, a “server-less compute,” allowing developers to create apps that automatically respond to events is one such path-breaking service launched recently. Microsoft’s Azure Service Fabric platform-as-a-service (PaaS) platform makes it possible to decompose applications into microservices, for increased availability and scalability.
The IoT revolution is well underway, but as things stand, only the tip of the IoT iceberg has been touched, with just 0.06% of things that could be potentially connected to the Internet being currently connected. However, growth is exponential, with 328 million new “things” being connected to the IoT ecosystem every month. The cloud infrastructure is gearing up simultaneously, to enable a whole new world of cloud powered IoT.
Fingent delivers technologies to enable your IoT solutions— cloud, networks and gateways, heterogeneous device support, systems capabilities, and data analytics. We provide industry-specific solutions that improve productivity and operational efficiency, with exceptional reliability and security. Learn about Fingent’s IoT System
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The Internet of Things has been of huge buzz lately among every field of business and life, but how well have you adopted it or been a part of it?
If you are able to remotely manage your office/home electronics through your laptop/mobile, then you are a part of IoT. If you can generate an access code on a mobile to enter into a locked property without key, you are using IoT. Most of us are already a part of the IoT, knowingly or unknowingly. But in the coming three to four years, every one of us will visibly and consciously become a part of it. It’s no more a probability, hype or a pipe dream, it’s been happening and is poised to connect over 75 billion devices in the next five years.
Though we are in the initial phase of discovering what is possible when combining sensors, actuators, and networked intelligence, years ahead will open doors to a world, where information is pulled up from living/ non-living things, and is used, shared and identified between the products and services, in the all-embracing network of IoT.
IoT will make over $11trillion impact by 2025
According to a report on industrial application for intelligent machines used in IoT, by General Electric, a simple 1% efficiency gains for systems could result in 15 years of saving:
- $30 billion worth of jet fuel for the airline industry
- $63 billion in global health care savings with more optimized treatments, patient flows, and equipment use in hospitals.
- $66 billion savings in fuel consumption for the global gas-fired power plant fleet.
The impact of IoT applications is going to be massive, about $11trillion by 2025, according to a research by McKinsey Global Institute. More than two-thirds of this value will be for business to business sector, and the consumers of these businesses will enjoy over 90% of the value thus created. However, in order to enjoy these high profits, businesses need to start adopting connected, interoperable systems, devices and components, address security/privacy issues and make crucial organizational changes to reap IoT’s maximum benefits.
Let’s see how businesses should set themselves ready to receive this impact;
Connected and interoperable components and systems in business
Companies should start demanding their vendors and suppliers for systems and components that are mutually connectable and interoperable with each other and with other systems. 40% of the value IoT can provide will depend on the components’ interoperability. Now, connecting the equipment or deploying sensors at multiple locations will not make your business ready for IoT. Companies must also integrate, deploy and customize the analytical software that can collect and combine the data generated by all these sensors, to make efficient decisions, in order to derive better business insights. For instance, there are over 30,000 sensors and connected/interoperable devices in modern oil platform. But less than 1% of data collected from these sensors are actually used for efficient decision making processes in the industry. Also, data needs to be collected, combined and analyzed from multiple components to make an effective predictive maintenance condition. All these render the whole system simply inefficient.
Every device in your business should have an On/Off switch to the Internet
Every device, from phones, doors, electronics, manufacturing machines, printers, to security systems, should be able to connect to the internet. This will make the tasks of these devices up-to-date, just like a PC connected to the internet receives latest software updates on it. Network connectivity will ensure real time checking of component status, features or updates, helping the businesses to stay informed and fresh, always.
Moving to Cloud
Companies should move their data and services entirely to cloud, providing a flexible, expandable, robust way of service to its increasing customer base. The large players in the industry already have their solutions in clouds, to provide scalability and better customer experience.
Security and Privacy concerns of businesses in IoT
Almost all IoT-based applications rely on data from sensors, or consumer data, even collected passively from them, by tracking their behaviors. For instance, in an IoT-enabled futuristic mall, customers will no longer have to wait in long queues to bill their items, rather they could just pick the items and walk out of the exit. This is possible with the bills being totaled by ‘beacons’ that scan the price tags of the items in the customer’s cart, and debit the equivalent amount from the mobile money in his smartphone. McKinsey estimates that there could be around $380 billion reduced costs for retailers per year from this kind of automated checkouts.
The flip side of the whole thing will be the security and privacy issues. Every sensor is a potential loophole for hackers. Implementing such process will need businesses to build trust with the customers, by convincing them that their private data cannot be breached and will only be used securely. A lot of work needs to be done here. Companies, while implementing IoT, should make sure to invest only in high-quality data securing systems/solutions that are super safe for your business and customers. Businesses need to protect their own data, the customer data and the intellectual property. Partner with only those trusted technology vendors providing high-security solutions.
Remote Mobile Device Management (MDM)
Remote mobile device management technologies will play a key role in IoT, controlling and monitoring the equipment in the network of things remotely. This will help business to reduce equipment costs, cut down on resource usage, avoid disasters remotely. Optimize operations, and boost productivity.
Building the right organizational environment
Collecting or gathering data from everywhere is not the key thing, the actual point lies in combining the different information, analyzing it, and acting on it. Even the biggest of the organizations struggle to make the optimum use of the information technologies available to them. So it’s not just about having the most sophisticated technologies, it’s about using and sharing it within the organization and making crucial data-driven decisions from it. Operations need to be continuously monitored by IT experts, as processes are getting redesigned around IoT and the managers should plan how to interpret real-time data (i.e, to integrate information technology and operations technology). Marketing, financing and information officers will be required to share their data. And teams should learn to make decisions relying on machines and data.
Sooner or later IoT will mean a tweak in the lens through which we all will see the world. It will change everything and every business should consider its implications. Over the next few years, you will see the Internet of Things hitting a tipping point very fast. How can your business get on top of it, understand and implement it? Learn from our tech experts