The Internet of Things (IoT) may be the newest kid on the enterprise block, but it is shaping up to be one of the dominant development trends in the new year as vendors across multiple industries try to capitalize on a connected universe.
But these high hopes are tempered by some thorny technological questions, not the least of which is building the infrastructure that can corral the mass of device-driven data and then analyze it in time to take advantage of fast-moving opportunities. And all of this must be done under a secure, highly reliable footprint.
According to analyst firm MachNation, IoT platform revenues are expected to grow by 116 percent in 2017, topping $2 billion. This runs the gamut from smart homes and businesses to smart cities and end-to-end smart data ecosystems in manufacturing, health care, retail, transportation and other industries. The technologies in play are also widely diverse, ranging from wired and wireless wide-area networking and edge infrastructure to cloud computing and multiple layers of systems architecture and management middleware.
In fact, says Information Age’s Ben Rossi, as the diaspora of IoT solutions expands, expect to hear less talk of the IoT as a singular entity and more as a collection of discrete elements. Already, key vendors are shifting their messaging strategies to highlight their specialized segment of the broader ecosystem, whether it is a particular connected device, a key element of the data collection or analytic process, management and orchestration, or some other tightly defined system. It also seems likely that the focus will shift away from specific technologies and more toward enhancing the user experience or streamlining the support infrastructure.
For the enterprise, the biggest push in the IoT will be the development of the storage and analytics infrastructure capable of delivering massive, but highly dynamic scale. Already, there are multiple schools of thought when it comes to the so-called “data lake.” As Database Trends and Applications notes in its year-end IoT wrap-up, some experts like Basho Technologies CEO Adam Wray expect enterprises to resist the “ball and chain” of a centralized data strategy in favor of greater computing prowess on the edge, while StreamSets CEO Girish Pancha expects the enterprise to gain more trust in the data lake through improved data ingestion methods and more flexible analytic processes.
One thing is clear, however: Device level security is still woefully inadequate, leaving the enterprise exposed to massive DDoS and other attacks if left unchecked. According to analytics expert Dr. Scott Zoldi, the recent attack on Dyn Inc., which jammed internet traffic across much of the U.S. a few months ago, may be only the tip of the iceberg once connected devices start to come online in significant numbers. As he noted on IT Pro Portal:
“… creating an IoT botnet is a great deal easier than phishing users to compromise PCs. Given the ease with which IoT devices can be hacked, we can expect more attacks to follow.”
In every opportunity, of course, there is risk, and vice versa. The need for security and other features in IoT infrastructure is the prime catalyst for rapid development, which in turn fuels greater interest in the deployment and optimization of IoT systems and infrastructure.
The coming year, then, will see a dramatic roll-out of IoT capabilities across the digital spectrum. From there, it will be up to the creative minds in today’s leading industries to utilize these advancements in ways that capture the public imagination and implement meaningful, positive changes in our daily lives.
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.