Internet of Things (IoT)

What you need to do to ensure IoT data is collected effectively

This is a contributed piece by Shawn McAllister, CTO of Solace

The Internet of Things (IoT) market has taken off, with IDC predicting it will hit the trillion dollar mark by 2020. There is still a lot of risk associated with IoT though, especially when it comes to performance, data security and future proofing to accommodate ongoing innovation. Even though the space is in its infancy, users expect IoT services to provide the same kind of responsiveness, reliability and security they’ve come to expect in much more mature internet and mobile services. A failure to meet those expectations could stunt the growth of this industry and negatively impact enterprise adoption.

That means developers need to look past the flashy front-end development of IoT devices and ensure the robustness and scalability of the infrastructure supporting them. This starts with identifying a strategy for the flow of data that directs enterprises to invest in technology that can support user demand and addresses the connection to enterprise IT networks, both legacy on-premise systems and cloud-based microservices. This ensures that IoT functionality is optimized and the data collected is effectively interpreted without taxing internal resources. To begin, businesses should consider strategies and tools that support the following:


Management of hybrid environments

Today’s businesses operate across hybrid and multi-cloud environments that include both private and public clouds along with on-premises systems. This means businesses not only need to build an infrastructure that is efficient, but ensures applications and devices can effectively communicate across diverse and distributed environments. As the technologies we use today continue to evolve, this will enable businesses to stay flexible in the way that they collect, interpret and distribute information.

Much hyped blockchain may help bring desperately needed security to IoT. Check out: Could blockchain unlock the potential in IoT?

For example, if a sensor monitoring oil pipelines detects a change in pressure in one area, that event will need to flow through a number of environments and/or applications to identify if there have been changes in the amount of fluid moving through the pipeline, if this area has experienced similar issues before, and how old that section of the pipeline is. That way, when the information is delivered to the management team, it provides a complete, contextual answer, giving them the information they need to react quickly if necessary. When new tools improve the accuracy or reach of their data collection efforts, they need to quickly incorporate them into existing infrastructures to drive immediate value.


Connection to legacy systems

While enterprises continue to shift many applications and information sources to private and public cloud environments, legacy systems will continue to be an important part of IoT initiatives for years to come, so businesses need to effectively connect legacy and next-gen technologies. This comes down to investing in infrastructure that interprets data pulled from legacy systems and, in real-time, translate it to align with resources from the cloud. Taking our pipeline example, this could support pulling records of past leaks from a legacy system and comparing it to current data on the performance of a particular section of the pipeline.


The ocean of real-time data

Integrating IoT systems and services into an existing IT ecosystem also creates an influx of data at a scale some systems may not be able to handle. And as new devices are launched, or new applications are applied to IoT devices, the data resources available also evolve. If it’s not carefully collected and analyzed, this data can get lost in the shuffle, leading to missed opportunities for innovation or an inability to alleviate roadblocks that may not have come up in the past. This makes it imperative that enterprises put in place technologies that can easily manage high-volume flows of data and improve analysis.


Security of data in motion

It is a given that data needs to be secure, but in the age of IoT what does this really mean? Businesses must ensure that data is not only protected where it lives, whether in the cloud or datacenter, but that it receives safe passage as it makes its way between devices and applications. This can be the weak point in an infrastructure that can lead to hacks, data leaks or other harmful activity. Another is protecting information when a resource goes down, so when a resource experiences an issue, the enterprise can know the insight collected won’t be at risk, won’t be lost and can be recovered at a later date.


What can we learn

As IoT becomes an increasingly pervasive piece of today’s enterprise, it is important to ensure the infrastructure supporting this technology is equipped to manage new and evolving needs. By ensuring that information can be effectively managed and moved across hybrid environments and evolve with changing technology, businesses can be more successful and flexible in their digital transformation.


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