The last few years have seen the Internet of Things (IoT) grow from a theoretical concept to a major priority for many organizations. As companies integrate IoT devices into their network infrastructures, they are looking for new ways to utilize them and manage the data they collect. With the end of the year approaching, it’s worth looking ahead to some IoT statistics.
That’s a lot of devices. When looking at the raw number of IoT devices Gartner predicts will be connected to the internet by the end of the decade, it’s easy to lose sight of how large the figure actually is. For context, take a moment to look at the difference between a million and a billion in terms of time:
One million seconds is roughly equal to 11.5 days.
One billion seconds is roughly equal to 31.75 years.
The difference between a few million IoT devices and a few billion, then, is quite staggering. If the total number of devices doesn’t provide enough shock value, consider the vast amount of data these devices are expected to generate. Cisco expects that total to exceed 800 zettabytes, which is quite a lot considering that a single zettabyte is equal to about a trillion gigabytes (following the time example above, one trillion seconds is equal to about 31,710 years).
Data centers will play a huge role in managing this information and harnessing its potential. Considering that about 90% of this data will be unstructured, it will be more important than ever for data centers to continue pushing the boundaries of both storage capacity and predictive analytics to keep pace with the demands of IoT.
Autonomous vehicles are coming, whether people like it or not. While precise numbers are difficult to determine, PWC estimates that the automotive industry spent around $46 billion on research and development of self-driving cars in 2015 alone. While driverless cars may not be taking over the highways soon, their need to gather and analyze huge amounts of data will demand more sophisticated edge data centers capable of directing the resulting digital traffic.
Even if self-driving vehicles aren’t here yet, existing automobiles are increasingly incorporating IoT features. From sensors that transmit usage and mechanical condition data to manufacturers and dispatchers to internet connectivity that facilitates better GPS and driver comfort, today’s vehicles offer as much connectivity as the modern home. The computing power that makes this connectivity possible will make IoT-enabled vehicles valuable tools in edge computing architectures.
Many companies have already identified IoT devices as a clear value add for their business. Far from just the technology sector, clothing manufacturers, healthcare providers, and municipalities around the world are investing in new ways to leverage the potential of interconnected devices.
With so much capital pouring into research and development, it’s safe to assume that the IoT market of the next decade will look very different from today’s. One thing that won’t change, however, will be the importance of edge data centers in IoT networks. This may explain why colocation data centers continue to be a vital IT solution for organizations looking to rapidly scale their operations to make the most of IoT devices.
Increasingly, IoT devices are popping up everywhere. Former Cisco researcher David Evans, who calculated just how many devices were being added every second, provides a glimpse into how widespread they’ve already become:
…“things” are no longer just computers and phones. Today, literally anything can be connected, including tennis rackets, diapers, clothing, vehicles, and, of course, homes. And although people may find this unsettling, the network is also starting to include biological things: Today, pets, crops, livestock, and the clothing on your body can be connected. We’re not far from an Internet link you can actually swallow as a pill.
With so many devices proliferating, IT professionals will need to be much more aware of potential security threats. Each device represents a different attack vector for hackers, and with so many devices coming and going in the workplace, companies must become more diligent managing access.
While self-driving cars and smart kitchens snatch most of the IoT headlines, some of the most exciting innovation is taking place in the manufacturing sector. Accenture anticipates that IoT technology will help the global economy push beyond years of weak productivity growth and transform the industrial workplace. From intelligent machines capable of performing automated tasks to augmented wearables that allow people to work more efficiently and safely, companies are experimenting with new ways of putting the latest IoT innovations to use.
Better data analysis will also enable predictive maintenance, better energy efficiency, and higher overall levels of production uptime. Combined with edge computing architectures, industrial IoT devices will be especially valuable for places where low or non-existent bandwidth has led to data infrastructure challenges in the past. Smart machinery will be able to operate in more places than ever before, helping to boost production, create jobs, and grow the economy.
While IoT devices are clearly already having an impact on the world’s network infrastructure, that influence is only going to increase in the coming years. By taking some of the current and projected figures into account, organizations can begin to position their business plans to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities, and mitigate the risks, these devices present. No matter how a company plans to incorporate IoT, a good data center will continue to be a vital partner in that process.
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