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"To improve is to change"

How to keep the Internet of Things under control

Rick Delgado
Internet of Things
Smart city image via Shutterstock

In theory, the IoT will function smoothly as it grows over time. People will eventually get used to living in a fully connected world where everything they use has some connection to the web. That’s all good in theory, but in practice, getting the IoT to reach its full potential is proving to be an enormous challenge.

At this point, it’s a bit difficult to fathom the sheer scale of the Internet of Things (IoT) once it gets fully up and running in the next few years. The number of devices alone dwarfs the amount we have already. According to research from IDC, a stunning 80 billion devices will be connected to the web by the year 2025. And today the number doesn’t exceed 11 billion.

To put that in a different perspective, IDC says that by 2025 more than 150,000 new devices will connect to the web every single minute. Based on these numbers, it’s easy to see the IoT’s potential, but equally worth noting is the amount of data the Internet of Things will generate and store. At the moment, the world generates around 10 zettabytes of digital data every year. That number is expected to hit 180 zettabytes within ten years. That’s a lot of information. The IoT concept is growing at an incredible pace, and it’s easy to see how things could get out of control.

Internet of Things: Theory vs. practice

In theory, the IoT will function smoothly as it grows over time. People will eventually get used to living in a fully connected world where everything they use has some connection to the web. That’s all good in theory, but in practice, getting the IoT to reach its full potential is proving to be an enormous challenge. The current networks and systems we have will simply become inadequate to handle the flood of new data being generated by billions of new devices. But businesses aren’t going to let those limitations stop them from creating new IoT products. They see the money to be made in a new market, leading to innovative new gadgets with internet-related capabilities. Keeping up with this means keeping the IoT under control as much as possible.

To do so, new types of technologies and techniques will need to be adopted. The current preferred method of storing, analyzing, and transferring data simply won’t cut it the bigger the Internet of Things gets. Now, most devices use a connection to the cloud in order to transmit and access any data they need in order to function. Connecting to the cloud means accessing a server through the internet, but as the amount of data grows exponentially, doing it this way will quickly become detrimental to peak IoT performance. That requires a change in strategy, and most experts agree this will come in the form of processing and storing data at local level.

Keeping things local

Keeping things local means having a decentralized approach to data processing. Not only does this cut down on the amount of bandwidth needed for data to move from one point to another, but it also decreases latency and keeps everything close to the source where data was originally generated. Industrial plants will want to know precisely how machines and equipment are operating without any delays. Healthcare institutions will want help with diagnoses while keeping their data safer and more secure by being nearby. By analyzing this information locally, organizations will get faster results and devices will be able to deliver performance more efficiently.

SEE ALSO: Java is the go to language for IoT applications

Local processing, analysis, and storage can take on many forms. Some of it may happen in the form of fog computing, a sort of hybrid solution that mimics the cloud but stays on the edge of the IoT. Some organizations may choose to go with IoT gateways, effectively funneling security and connectivity and allowing for quick analyses to be performed. Edge data centers, or data centers built at the local level, may also prove crucial to helping the IoT reach new heights by cutting down on the amount of time data needs to travel.

Already, many major tech companies are working on solutions that will answer the challenges posed by the extreme growth of the Internet of Things. By developing new edge computing capabilities, updating converged infrastructure, and adopting local processing techniques, the world will become adept at handling the large workloads stemming from the IoT. With these changes will come a new world that fully takes advantage of all that the Internet of Things has to offer.

Author
Rick Delgado
Rick Delgado is a freelance technology writer and commentator. Connect with him on Twitter @ricknotdelgaldo.