An Enterprise View of the Internet of Things
Undoubtedly you’ve heard about the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE). A lot of the information revolves around futuristic claims that are easy to think of as fantasy. However, businesses are implementing IoT projects today. This article shows what they’re doing, and how you and your environment could be affected, and sooner than you think.
What are IoT and IoE? The Internet of Things is a technology that enables the collection of sensor data from widely distributed physical objects and, in some cases, the transmission of control signals back to those objects. Networks carry this data to applications and platforms that aggregate, translate, and analyse the data to derive meaningful information.
Just a few examples of IoT applications include fleet management, remote asset management, healthcare-related monitoring devices, smart monitoring sensors, and smart metering.
In comparison, the Internet of Everything is the evolution of technology, business strategies, and human-to-technology engagement in ways that reinvent how organisations function. The IoE includes technology solutions that combine security, software-defined networking, unified communications, analytics, application-aware networking, database federation, and mobile experience. The Internet of Things is the key enabler of the IoE, as shown below.
There are many examples of IoT working in the market today. Top enterprise cases include connected cars, fleet management, remote asset management, building automation, building energy management, smart metering, connected healthcare solutions, connected retail store management, smart warehousing and smart building management.
In general, most enterprises adopt IoT applications to save costs. For example, they may want to reduce the use of electricity or fuel, reduce the chance of theft or other criminal activity, or, importantly for facilities management, reduce the probability of equipment failure.
Some enterprises are now using IoT to develop new services. Construction companies are using IoT to launch collision-avoidance services to reduce accidents and injuries at sites, automotive manufacturers are embedding connectivity in their products so cars notify their drivers when it’s time for tune-ups, and facilities management systems are launching new monitoring services with connected products.
Why it matters
IoT projects often require the modification, re-design, or purchase of new networks, cloud services, and data centre equipment. They also require new software and platforms to support the different types of devices used, from simple sensors to complex computers.
Networks must to be properly re-configured to handle the location, throughput expectations, and security requirements of new endpoint devices the IoT introduces. Most, although not all, will run over IP, putting an additional burden on the corporate network. Some IoT devices, such as smart meters, or sensors on a machine, might not tax a network whereas others may have extremely heavy data requirements. Whether they are light or heavy bandwidth users, all IoT devices have different usage characteristics than those of the typical employee using a PC from a desk. Businesses will want to review their IT capabilities and their network configurations carefully.
Cloud services are part of most IoT projects, used either as part of the IoT application, the application enablement platform, device management, data storage, or analytics. Many vendors offer cloud services to support IoT deployments. The use of the cloud affects data centres, collaboration, policy management, and security management.
Data centre operations will be affected by enterprise IoT rollouts, whether they are cloud-based or on-premises. Questions will arise about setting up virtual machines, setting up physical hardware, monitoring, management, and resource allocation.
Providing the hardware, database, and software resources necessary to support an IoT application requires careful planning, because often the decision to launch an IoT project involves many functional sections within the business. Enterprises need to understand fully the expectations for performance and data volumes and must also consider additional questions about data security, compliance, backup/storage, and redundancy of systems.
Personnel: IoT also has implications for the types of talent that businesses need. IoT projects require IT personnel skilled in infrastructure who can successfully support implementations and ongoing monitoring. IoT deployments require connectivity and also a secure network environment. Businesses will need specialists with skills in security, hardware, database management, database federation, cloud services, and applications management to successfully pilot and maintain the applications and resulting data.
IoT and IoE deployments can have critical impacts on networks, data centres, cloud services, and the personnel who support them. The forecast growth rate for connected devices is 30% to 40% per year for at least the next 10 years. Companies that prepare for these technology and business changes will find themselves better equipped to compete in global markets and create new, innovative ideas for their customers.