The technology phenomenon known as the Internet of Things (IoT) has been gathering momentum over the last couple of years. Analysts predict that the IoT market will grow to, with anywhere between 30 billion and 50 billion autonomous devices connected, so the potential growth opportunities are staggering. While the consumerisation of IT and the dramatic rise of personal devices such as smartphones, smart TVs, and tablets have driven adoption and fuelled speculation, business leaders are beginning to recognise that the Internet of Things will have and to the enterprise over the next decade.
At a fundamental level, IoT refers to an interconnected network of uniquely identifiable objects or "things". What constitutes a "thing" may be broadly defined; however, a unifying property is their ability to communicate between each other or central data storage and control points (such as cloud-based servers). Many will also contain sensors that collect meaningful data about themselves or their environment. The prospect of billions of connected devices gathering and sharing information will lead to vast quantities of data being generated, which must be processed and stored. Understanding this is important in ensuring that your infrastructure is prepared and capable of supporting the IoT strategies that your business will need to implement to remain competitive.
Intel is taking a leading role in providing the building blocks necessary to create intelligent IoT solutions. With a proven track record, it is well positioned to help businesses overcome challenges faced when connecting things to the cloud and managing the data generated by them. Intel's extensive experience in developing highly scalable thing-to-cloud solutions has helped identify several key considerations when planning IoT infrastructure deployment.
Security is the most important challenge facing any enterprise considering IoT. As the number of things connected to corporate networks and the cloud expands, the points of vulnerability and threat of attacks targeting these devices increase dramatically. It is essential to implement complete end-to-end security, including embedded control software protecting edge devices to maintain data integrity as it travels from edge to cloud.
The volume of data generated by IoT will become a significant issue, since existing capacity may be insufficient. High-performance compute and storage infrastructure is necessary to process raw data and perform detailed analysis. Information collected by connected things will provide remarkable insight into the environment within which the business operates. There may be opportunity for this operation to be integrated with an organisation's existing business intelligence or big data initiatives.
Integration with legacy systems can also present substantial challenges, since communication protocols and data formats supported by such devices can be quite disparate, and often incompatible. Layered abstraction is often required to normalise data and improve interoperability. Intel Gateway Solutions connect such systems with cloud platforms by using industry-standard protocols, enabling seamless and secure data flow between them.
The complexity of deploying and managing large numbers of connected things will require a significant degree of automation in order to scale effectively. Infrastructure must facilitate discovery and the provisioning of new devices without disruption to existing systems and processes. Integration with cloud-based service architectures through orchestration and composition tools will be critical in streamlining the deployment of IoT throughout the enterprise.
One of the most prominent technology trends in recent history, the Internet of Things is set to revolutionise the way business is conducted. Large-scale analysis of corporate data and process automation facilitated by connected things will allow businesses to operate more intelligently and improve efficiency. Recognising security concerns and additional infrastructure requirements needed to support IoT integration will ensure that your enterprise IT architecture is ready to benefit from this technology in the future.