From Fashion Statement to Industrial Infrastructure

Eric Hui

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These days, what you wear may be saying more about who you are than you ever imagined.

Wearable technology is at the forefront of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, where every device is connected and networked. And everything, from the recently launched Apple Watch to smart T-shirts is constantly adding its own contribution to the deluge of data flooding into the clouds.

According to Vodafone’s M2M Adoption Barometer, Asia-Pacific looks likely to lead the global adoption of such machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies over the next two years. But, while intelligent clothing will certainly play a role, the biggest impact looks likely to be from another quarter as M2M moves from being a fashion statement into essential industrial infrastructure.

Big data gets even bigger

The common denominator with all IoT devices is a sensor, or a collection of sensors that gathers data, and a mechanism for offloading the data back to where it can be studied.

More devices mean more data, which requires quite sophisticated algorithms and considerable processing power to analyse and interpret it. For example, in the latest so-called “smart cars,” the MCU (microcontroller unit) monitors an entire ecosystem of items that affect the performance of the vehicle. Integrating that with cellular technology makes it possible for the car to literally phone home to the service center when anything less than optimal is detected.

As exciting as that sounds for consumers, it is really just the tip of the iceberg for big data analytics. The pay-off for individuals, enterprises and society in general will come when all of these devices, and the data they are generating, are integrated into what the manufacturing pioneer GE is calling “the Industrial Cloud.”

Industry moving into the clouds

Take the smart car as an example. A simple cylinder misfire could have a myriad of causes, from faulty or worn out spark plugs to blocked injectors. With the right analytics, the service center can fix it, and make sure it doesn’t happen again by fitting different filters or spark plugs during manufacture – before they become a problem!

As the industrial cloud grows to include more parties, beyond the manufacturer to suppliers, designers, service providers and more, its reach and potential impact will grow exponentially. And in areas you might not expect.

For a long time, the cutting-edge in data analytics was firmly in the realm of financial services. That’s going to change quickly as different verticals that make up the industrial sector embrace the potential offered by the IoT and its related technologies.

Making it happen

Taken to its logical conclusion, this big data evolution is going to change everything. The question is how can organisations do it? How can they pull together data that may span multiple sources and servers in different countries, or even separate continents? And how can they analyse it?

The answer is “cloud density.” That means the critical mass created by an increasing number of organisations hosting their cloud analytics and other related cloud platforms in close proximity in modern, next-generation data centres. It also includes the concentration of global network connectivity, supporting easy access to anything they need, anywhere it may be located.

With the right mix of each ingredient, these densely populated cloud data centres will become the virtual switchboards for the emerging industrial cloud.

As an organisation with extremely high network density, Equinix is becoming a high “cloud density” location. In fact, our Cloud Exchange is designed to accelerate the process, creating a seamless fabric connecting multiple clouds, multiple users and multiple networks. What’s more, automated provisioning in the Cloud Exchange actually returns control to the user. This offers them the ability to switch on virtual circuits, and scale-up or scale-down their services with cloud providers in real-time as their business needs dictate.

The interconnection capabilities of Equinix Cloud Exchange also remove the security, performance, reliability and vendor lock-in concerns that could hold organisations back from fully adopting and reaping the benefits of M2M, IoT and the industrial cloud.

By eliminating the bottlenecks associated with traditional cloud access across the public Internet, the Equinix Cloud Exchange provides a secure path for companies to access increasingly critical cloud resources. And, it does it at the much higher levels of throughput required to process and exploit the flood of data created by new IoT applications that will keep individuals looking and feeling great, and businesses operating more efficiently and imaginatively than ever.

 

 

Eric Hui
Eric Hui Director Business Development - IoT Ecosystems, Asia Pacific