Is IoT the new Y2K?

Summary:Every big trend that hits IT brings with it a hoard of shlock products, fly-by-night companies, and 'experts' from under every rock. Get ready for the wave of the new Y2K: The Internet of Things.

Nothing used to irritate me more than Y2K experts. The reason is that they really weren't experts at all. They were scam artists, which is to say they were quick learned, fast-talking, opportunists who were out to make a quick buck based on public fear. It worked. A lot of those guys did very well. I told my staff back in 1998 and 1999 that I would be grateful for January 2, 2000 because the world would be rid of Y2K experts forever. Well, I was partially right when the day finally came and no great disasters happened.

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Sure, we were rid of the Y2K experts, and good riddance, but each new technology or hot trend pulls the same group of experts from the woodwork. The newest one is The Internet of Things.

It's unfortunate too for the unsuspecting, well-meaning, proactive business owners and managers who really want to make the best of their technologies. It's sad that these innocent people will pay a lot of money and get nothing for it. That, plus, they'll have to spend more to undo and redo what they did wrong in the process.

The Internet of Things is a complex technology. There aren't many experts available. Those who are experts have been doing this type of work for a long time but just didn't call it "The Internet of Things". They are the people who've gathered data from remote locations, from remote devices, from a variety of sources, from gadgets, from sensors, and from each other for years.

Those are your true experts.

Now that isn't to say that network experts, security experts, and data crunchers can't be IoT experts, because they can and they are.

But beware of someone with no real credentials and no real history with IoT, data, security, or networks—both wired and wireless.

The truth is that you might need more than one expert (real expert) for each part of your IoT implementation. Here are the reasons why.

  • Device manufacturers have different methods of securing their equipment.
  • Data analysts and database administrators are experts at handling data and database security.
  • Network engineers are experts at handling end-to-end network traffic (devices to servers).
  • Security professionals integrate all the pieces into a secure and monitored package.

It would be a very rare individual, indeed, who could do all of those himself or herself alone.

Think "It takes a village" at this point in the conversation.

And add that to the factors that increase complexity for an IoT implementation:

  • Geographic disparity
  • Device disparity
  • Operating system disparity
  • Number of devices
  • Different data types

IoT is not for the faint of heart or for someone who can just 'talk the talk' and 'walk the walk'. You need real expertise for this type of work. It's no Y2K, when it comes to the actual work that needs to be done.

IoT is more than just connecting gadgets into your network so that you can scrape a few data points; it's using devices to gather pertinent business information and it has to be done by someone who knows how to do it with an eye on security from one end to the other. IoT isn't time for amateur hour nor is it the type of business that can tolerate incompetence or implementation mistakes.

My best advice is to get outside help from people who know what they're doing and from ones who've done it for years. No, they didn't call it The Internet of Things the whole time, but like 'cloud', it's existed for decades. 

Have you seen anyone who's running a 'shady' business in the IoT area? Have you met any so-called experts in this field who obvious are not experts? Talk back and let me know.

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Topics: Security, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Networking

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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