The IoT Future is Now

January 13, 2017

The Internet of Things (IoT), an ecosystem of network-enabled devices that generates data along the way, is the natural result of technologists and innovative companies creating sensors and wearables that constantly measure, sense, gather and transmit information. The actionable data sets delivered by these interconnected network-enabled devices provide underlying intelligence organizations leverage to drive value.

The IoT gives companies greater flexibility, the ability to extend the lifetime value of their assets. It is possible to configure a jet airliner to diagnose its own maintenance issues in a way that identifies and resolves those issues without disrupting business. The net benefit? Fewer delays for the customers and more up-time for the airlines to generate revenue. The same benefits are available with interconnected household appliances, the washing machine that alerts for maintenance before a problem matures.

Beyond Physical Assets

But physical assets -- airplanes or washing machines -- represent a small fraction of the virtually limitless applications possible with IoT. Imagine financial ecosystems giving immediate statistical feedback and identifying anomalies to the professionals managing billions of dollars. Or IoT-smart supply chains tracking raw materials from point of origin to manufacture, to shipment, to retail shelf, to final disposal providing along the way everything that's possible to learn about a product in its lifecycle.

It's a Data-Driven Journey

We are only just beginning to embark on the IoT journey, where IoT solutions to problems are bound only by human imagination. The proliferation of network-enabled wearables, sensors and mobile devices has both small and large firms pumping resources into innovation.

The potential is there. The ability to burrow deeper into a wide range of business-critical processes is there. So, it's understandable that companies across various industries are pushing both their business and IT departments to break new ground to identify and create IoT implementations. IT departments can now be creative, revenue-generating resources within an organisation in ways they never were before, evolving with and tackling the challenge that comes of harvesting massive amounts of data from network-enabled devices.

Buried by a Mountain of Data

We daily generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, this according to IBM. In fact, so much data is created each day that 90% of all data has been generated in the last two years. Ben Walker, Marketing Executive at vouchercloud, Europe's biggest mobile voucher app, predicts that at this rate data generation by 2018 will be 50,000 GB per second. Depending on the IoT implementation or programme, terabytes of information could be generated by a single network-enabled device. Boeing, for example, is network-enabling its airplanes to track where they go, the performance of all the individual components that keep them in the air, and the conditions within each cabin. Every flight is capable of generating terabytes of information. Extrapolate that amount of data across the number of flights that Boeing planes make each day and you get a sense of the data crush that looms.

Adrift in Data

While some companies might purge this data in a relatively short timescale to reduce the impact on their IT infrastructures, others choose to archive the data and push it into the cloud when appropriate. Many companies, however, would prefer to hold on to this data to satisfy reporting and any other requirements they may have.

And there are other reasons to hold rather than purge.

By its very nature IoT generates a lot of very sensitive data. With wearables and mobile devices tracking people's movements via GPS, displaying their interests, their health and vital signs, there's very little information that can't be harvested and stored about any individual. From a business intelligence and intellectual property standpoint, if the individual components of a proprietary piece of technology are constantly reporting their status, the information generated could be of interest to competitors.

Data Centre Resilience

How the IoT is regulated and valid concerns about security will lead companies to the necessity of computing and storing IoT-generated data in highly resilient data centres. For some companies, the compute capacity of their existing data centres is likely to be challenged. Ultimately, companies implementing IoT initiatives are going to have to collect, analyze and gain actionable insights from their data as quickly as possible, identifying what's essential or required by regulation, to store whilst eliminating risk. Alternatively, companies may focus on the business of extracting value from the data without straining their operational resources and balance sheet by outsourcing their data centre solution.

Doorway to Innovation

The IoT is a doorway to innovation, and capabilities that might seem far fetched today are going to be reality sooner than you might expect. The amount of transparency, situational awareness and intelligence that the IoT generates stretches our collective imaginations. It's like being back before putting a man on the moon. The successful IoT companies of tomorrow will be the ones that imagine big today.

Learn more about data centre solutions from Digital Realty and how they can be part of your IoT strategy.

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