Cisco would like to use the phrase IoE – Internet of Everything. But the common term is IoT (Internet of Things) these days. It refers to any device that has an IP address, and can communicate. I will be speaking at an IoT Expo in San Francisco on May 5th. and my session is called – Big Data, the oxygen of the Internet of Things. The term IoT is nebulous and involves all kinds of players – device suppliers (wearables, sensors, home appliances, monitors, etc.), backend players with network gears such as routers, hubs, load balancers, and then computing resources, storage, plus a large number of software players. From consumers to enterprises, the impact of IoT will be pervasive. Some new companies such as Kaazing claims to enable the Internet for the IoT. What does that mean? They offer a product called The Kaazing WebSocket Gateway, an enterprise solution for full-duplex, high-performance communication over the Web built with the HTML5 WebSocket standard at its foundation. I can guarantee that hundreds of companies including incumbents like Cisco will have similar claims.
Let us examine some vertical industries and see how IoT will have an impact. Take transportation, for example. Today, Southwest, Jet Blue, and Delta provide onboard wifi connectivity. The newer aircrafts like Boeing 787 or Airbus 380 are like flying data centers. Onboard connectivity via wifi or cellular is offered already. New applications such as real-time credit card verification for duty-free shopping can minimize exposure to fraud. Such applications can also reduce inventory onboard for duty free goods depending on historical records. The main goal will be to improve business operations. On the other side, operation and safety of the aircraft will use sensors providing real-time data and alerts for any abnormal events. GE-built aircraft engines have over 1000 sensors.
Healthcare industry will see increased use of monitoring of patients. Even devices will track if individuals are taking timely medicine or not. Qualcomm’s MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) Wi-Fi radio approach is getting popular in healthcare. Similarly verticals like retail, manufacturing, and financial services will see big benefits of greater device connectivity. Retail industry can locate geo-location of customers and offer discounts as they walk into the store, based on past purchases. Manufacturing will see more just-in-time maintenance to reduce cost. The possibilities are numerous.
Data management and analysis becomes the real oxygen here. Hence big data technologies and solutions will be crucial. Among the challenges are mentioned – coding, UI/UX (user interface and user experience), hardware, operations and staffing. How do you integrate all the pieces, as there are no standards yet? How do you get reliable guaranteed communications and optimize traffic flow? The devices will be radically different (Nest thermostats, door security, wearable devices from Fitbit, etc.) and what is required is a level of abstraction that can be coded to.
There are other challenges also in terms of staffing and organization. Start small and figure out the touch points and what to solve. What options exist? Then identify toolsets, process, staffing and training. Security and protection against malware hackers become important.
We are at the beginning of this key movement and like any other technology cycle, solutions will emerge. But today there are more questions than answers.