The Internet of Things has been “the next big thing” for several years now. That’s not because it’s failing to live up to the hype. It’s because it’s that huge.
By 2020, 37 billion intelligent things will be connected to the internet, according to Cisco. But even on the low end of that, there will be roughly three “connected things” for every person on earth. That number may be tough to fathom, but it’s easy to understand there’s a lot of exploitable data being produced, and it comes with a lot of opportunity. Business Insider projects $6 trillion will be spent on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in the next five years.
Still, the possibilities of the IoT also come with something of an imperative: The enterprise needs to figure out how it can best integrate and exploit this massive internetworking of things, because their competitors surely will. We think this combination of business opportunity and necessity will be a major factor driving an IoT (r)evolution for the enterprise in 2017.
A fundamental problem enterprises face as they figure out how to make the most of the IoT is that many corporate IT networks simply were not built to handle it. The IoT requires direct, proximate connections that deliver ultra-low latency, in the range of 20 milliseconds to sub-1 millisecond. To understand why, just consider some of its applications. One IoT-based platform, for instance, uses sensors to monitor a worker’s skin temperature, heart rate, or exposure to toxic gases to prevent heat stress or poisoning. This kind of application can be rendered useless if this data is being transmitted on high-latency networks that are prone to congestion, losses or delays. Unfortunately, enterprise networks often have these problems, because many are based on traditional, centralized architectures that still bring all the data to the core of the network instead of processing, analyzing and storing it at the edge, where most users reside and IoT data gets created.
Another huge IoT-related issue for the enterprise is security. That was plain after hackers weaponized a network of IoT-connected cameras and video recorders to launch a series of high-profile distributed denial of service attacks in September. Experts said this was just a preview of attacks to come. Meanwhile, Forrester forecasts a large-scale IoT security breach among its 2017 predictions. Companies that know they must better exploit the IoT also know they need to protect themselves as much as possible.
With these issues as a backdrop, here is some of what we see in store in 2017 in the IoT evolution, and how this will push the enterprise toward an IoT revolution:
- We see the IoT evolving from single, vendor-independent solutions to those that will be based on open standards and APIs. This will enable solutions to talk to each other and rely on the same data and common security rules, enhancing efficiency and security.
- As the number of players in the IoT value chain increases, the end-to-end service concept will become dominant, and interconnection will become more important for access to networks and clouds, and for working in a multi-cloud environment. This will push the enterprise further away from centralized, siloed IT architectures that can’t meet the IoT’s demands for ultra-low latency connectivity. Companies will instead turn to architectures that can shorten the distance between their IT infrastructures and the IoT components that must instantly and securely connect for the IoT to deliver its true value. This involves IT transformation, and it’s at the heart of the IoT revolution.
- The IoT industry will increasingly put security first in the design of every IoT-enabled device in response to ongoing threats, and under pressure from the enterprise. The enterprise will also accelerate a push for common security standards for any device in the IoT ecosystem, such as basic authentication for product interfaces and a secure firmware/software update process.
Our global interconnection platform, Platform Equinix™, is built to help companies keep pace with the IoT (r)evolution, both from a performance and security standpoint. The platform extends to 40 global markets, giving us the reach to enable proximate interconnection between various elements of the IoT that need to instantaneously collaborate and communicate, such as clouds, networks, data stores, analytics and end users. Close, direct interconnection isn’t just higher-performing, it’s also more secure. Various players in the IoT are already using an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy to bypass the public internet and get as close as possible to IoT and security services, which promotes confidentiality and integrity. Platform Equinix is the only place to find everything you need to execute an IOA strategy.
Get guidance on implementing an IOA by downloading the IOA Playbook.
Learn more about designing IoT architectures by reading our white paper, “The Fog Rolls in – Network Architectures for IoT and Edge Computing.”
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