The creation and proliferation of connected devices, systems and sensors continues to expand, resulting in a positive impact to human culture. The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to bring about fundamental change in how people live their lives. This is because nearly every industry is striving to improve the quality of their user experience through the use of high speed connections, data analysis and rapid consumer feedback. This has resulted in increased safety, more efficient transportation, simplified lifestyles and improved health.
The Real Value
IoT is more than just connecting sensors. It is about ensuring that those connected devices provide valuable input to a cycle that can be used to improve the industry they are supporting. But the real value of IoT will be realized as more complementary technologies mature and become integrated into the systems that are already connected. Ultimately IoT is a mindset, backed up by constantly emerging and maturing technologies, such as analytics @ the edge, serverless computing and machine learning.
The Value Chain
The goal of any IoT product or project is to provide connectivity to IoT users. This is enabled by the IoT provider through services provisioned on an IoT platform and through the use of public cloud resources.
IoT provides the means to enhance almost every domain that contributes to the modern human experience. For example, the potential for leading longer lives, the lowering of costs for common services, and the increase in human efficiency will all lead to more engaged and fulfilled lives by those who are connected.
Concerns to be Overcome
As IoT deployments continue to grow, there are several persistent concerns that will hinder adoption if not properly managed through the application of the right technology at the right time.
As users connect more devices, the risk of notification overload becomes ever more present. IoT vendors must ensure that their platforms focus on notifications that are timely, relevant and accurate to avoid users disabling them and losing value from their IoT products and supporting services.
Privacy expectations set by users are higher than ever. In addition to being cognizant of regulations, laws and privacy standards, IoT vendors must ensure that users’ expectations are met. Privacy of users’ data demands high quality software development, constant testing and improvement.
The integrity of data, which includes captured information and resultant recommendations is critical to ensuring that users trust IoT devices and their associated feedback. Security exists at many levels for IoT, including connectivity, storage, data and device integrity.
Accelerating the Internet of Things
Emerging and maturing technologies will enhance our ability to build and scale even more robust IoT solutions. These include analytics @ the edge, which operates closer to the consumer, as well as serverless computing and machine learning, which are both built up on IoT platforms (Figure 3).
Analytics @ the Edge
Analytics @ the edge promises to enable faster decision-making by ensuring data does not need to move over slow or unreliable connections before a user response is provided. This is accomplished by embedding analytical capability into devices and edge components. IoT providers can then minimize the risk that the movement of data increases and better manage the cost of connectivity.
Serverless computing allows IoT providers to seamlessly scale their computing needs and provide advanced functionality without the need to invest in traditional IT operations resources and processes. Serverless computing ensures that common operations tasks like patches, upgrades and host inventory are no longer needed This frees up resources to focus on product enhancements and feature development. The smaller footprint of a serverless environment also minimizes exposure to security threats, enabling IoT vendors to share responsibility with cloud vendors and their large depth of security knowledge, monitoring ability and automated response resources.
Machine learning, which happens at the cloud platform level, allows for changes in user behavior to be reflected in all analytical work and positively influences the quality of user recommendations. Machine learning provides for improved user feedback as well as improved security through better detection of anomalies.
IoT providers must constantly evaluate new and emerging technologies to connect them in the most effective ways in order to provide a unique, compelling and secure experience. Doing so judiciously will also ensure IoT users’ privacy, security, as well as notification integrity and relevance. Serverless computing promises to lower the operational overhead for IoT vendors. Analytics @ The Edge will ensure faster, higher quality recommendations. Machine Learning technologies will both improve security and recommendations quality for IoT users.
All major public cloud vendors are deploying their own IoT platforms. Their goal is to ensure that knowledge can be shared across many different IoT vendors, minimizing the amount of technology that must be rebuilt for each IoT product on the market.
Vendors of IoT platforms do this by focusing on user value to minimize the amount of rework needed to release high quality products. This enables product companies to focus on their value add, and not just common repeatable technology patterns.
- Azure– The Azure IoT Suite includes devices, gateways, supporting SDKs and analytical capabilities to automate the movement and analysis of data.
- AWS – The AWS IoT Platform supports not only the movement and analysis of data, but also the management of devices and the associated lifecycle of those devices.
- Google – Google IoT Solutions are focused on the ability to stream high speed data, at global scale to provide real-time, actionable insight. Google has built a world class network between their data centers to ensure that data connectivity is available between cloud resources and end devices.
Successful IoT applications are about the ability to connect us to our environment, through devices. The goal is to provide rapid, accurate feedback and opportunity for improvement. IoT possibilities seem unlimited with the advent of the public cloud. Emerging technologies such as serverless computing, analytics @ the edge and machine learning enhance an IoT providers ability to build scalable, secure capabilities, leveraging the platforms that cloud providers have created.