Facing Reality: Most Enterprises Will Have to Deploy IoT Infrastructure on the Cloud

Arthur Cole
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Amazing Growth in Data Requires Innovative New Solutions

The enterprise needs to scale up resources quickly if it is to leverage the power of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) before someone else does. That means all but the most well-funded of organizations will have to turn to the public cloud to support these new architectures, ready or not.

This is already playing out in technology markets, with Technology Business Research reporting that IoT revenues grew nearly 15 percent in the last quarter of 2015 to hit $6.7 billion, fueled in large part by an explosive upsurge in cloud services. The cloud, in fact, showed its highest year-over-year growth in its nascent history, surging nearly 80 percent to post $604 million in revenue. Scale-out processing and storage are the two most sought-after services, quite understandably, but the lion’s share of the gains is going to cloud providers who also provide effective data management and security services for IoT and Big Data workloads.

The fact remains, however, that the IoT-facing cloud infrastructure and services market is still in its infancy, and many top vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google are trying to find the magic formula that will kick deployments into high gear. The latest entrant is Samsung, which just released the new Artik cloud platform as an alternative to more established platforms like Microsoft Azure and IBM’s Bluemix. The service features open APIs and specialized toolkits designed to break down the barriers between platforms, devices and infrastructure that could introduce productivity-killing silos in IoT deployments, says NewsFactor Network’s Jef Cozza. At the same time, Artik provides Samsung with an overarching framework to unite its own diverse portfolio of connected devices, which includes everything from smartphones to smart washing machines and refrigerators.

One only need look at the extent of Samsung’s Artik strategy to appreciate how confusing the IoT field has already become, says The Verge’s Dieter Bohn. First, there is the Artik 10, a tiny ARM computer similar to the Raspberry Pi that will share much of the same functionality as Artik-based embedded systems. On top of that, you’ll have the Artik Cloud, which links not only Samsung’s own products but rivals like Amazon Echo, Fitbits and, via the IFTTT service, virtually anything else that comes online. In addition, there is Samsung’s SmartThings project, which incorporates earlier efforts like SAMlio, all of which is now consolidated under the Artik brand. And this doesn’t even touch on the many third-party IoT projects like Brillo and Weave and the fact that more IoT standards and platforms are emerging almost daily. So it looks like it will be a while before anyone offers anything close to a unified IoT ecosystem, if ever.

This isn’t altogether unsurprising, of course, considering that virtually every major technology initiative is the product of multiple development efforts. The IoT, in fact, is emerging as a life-line of sorts for Intel, which has all but given up on making significant headway in the last great technology frontier: mobile communications. The company recently announced that it is pulling the plug on nearly the entire Atom line, essentially ceding the smartphone and tablet markets to the ARM architecture. Instead, the company will focus on the cloud and IoT by doing what it does best, develop processor technologies that push high-performance, programmability and broad interconnectivity to accommodate the most demanding enterprise workloads. To that end, CEO Brian Krzanich says future product lines will incorporate technologies like 5G communications, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and innovative new chip designs aimed at extending Moore’s Law into the future.

In a way, the IoT brings the enterprise industry back to its roots: massive infrastructure churning away on massive data loads to hopefully make sense of complex systems and processes. The good news for the enterprise is that the advent of scalable resources in the cloud allows it to custom-fit infrastructure to workloads without having to deal directly with hardware and software integration, load balancing, resource configuration or virtually any of the monumental management tasks that plague legacy data infrastructure.

This doesn’t mean the cloud won’t cost anything; just that its costs will scale as needed. All the enterprise needs to do is make sure the value being derived from Big Data and IoT justifies the expense.

Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

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