With every new wave of technological progress, there will always be those who warn of its many dangers. The Internet of Things is no different – and concerns are already being voiced it could end cloud computing. Meanwhile, others claim it will only strengthen it.
For starters, what is the Internet of Things (IoT)? To understand the concept, remember that the Internet increasingly links smart devices and other kinds of assets. In the near future, almost all products will feature both an IP address and have the ability to communicate. This scenario perfectly sums up the Internet of Things.
By 2020, there will be more than 30 billion permanently connected devices, and more than 200 billion intermittently connected devices, according to a Gartner (News - Alert) Group study cited by TMCnet. Additionally, over five billion wireless connectivity chips will ship this year alone, according to ABI Research (News - Alert) cited by David Canellos, president and CEO of PerspecSys.
Even more, there are currently about two Internet-connected devices for every person in the world, with most being found in tablets, sensors, cameras and other products. An increasing number of these are able to connect to the Internet, and as the years proceed, more small sensors will be able to take part in machine-to-machine communications. And by 2025 (a cool 12 years away), there will be about 50 billion Internet-connected devices, representing over six Internet-connected devices per person on the planet.
I think you now get it.
“Driven by a revolution in technology, for the first time, we have the ability to create a central nervous system on our planet,” Canellos elaborated in a recent statement. “This sensor technology will allow us to measure systems on a global scale and at the same time offer a never before seen array of intelligent services.”
Ron Vetter, a computer science professor in at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and member of the IEEE (News - Alert), explains in a Tech Republic article that the Internet of Things “has to do with the large number of devices (things) that are currently or will be shortly connected to the Internet. The proliferation of smart sensors will greatly increase the number of things connected as well as the kind of information and control that will be available.
He adds that “The quantity of information will explode, as will concerns for privacy and security.”
Machines increasingly can provide benefits to people using this technology in such sectors as e-Health, smart cities, assisted living, intelligent manufacturing, smart logistics and transport or smart metering. Future areas may include home appliances and heating, ventilation, and cooling and air conditioning systems in houses or businesses.
Where we reach our peak here is where Canellos says that the real achievements in this field will come with the combination of Internet of Things and cloud computing.
“As all these interactions between Internet devices occur, large volumes of data will be generated,” Canellos said. “This data will be easily captured and stored, but it needs to be transformed into valuable knowledge and actionable intelligence – this is where the real power of the cloud kicks in…The cloud effectively serves as the brain to improve decision-making and optimization for Internet-connected interactions.”
In a nutshell, the cloud will give a virtual infrastructure for the integration of applications, monitoring devices, storage devices, analytics tools, visualization platforms and client delivery, Canellos explained.
However, there are some challenges under this merger. Specifically, there are prime concerns about threats to privacy, especially as it relates to personally identifiable information. Options like encryption or authentication may need to be employed, as well as other more powerful methods that have yet to be seen.
“The protection of private data … is the responsibility of both organizations and individuals,” Marc Vael, international vice president of ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association), added in said statement. “Data protection, involves improving people’s awareness, using best-of-breed technology and deploying sound business processes.”
But not everyone is as positive on this marriage of technologies. In fact, many stand to object.
To make way for the advent of The Internet of Things, IPv6 needs to be more widely deployed, there needs to be economical production, better antenna design and improved battery life, industry expert Nick Hardiman wrote for Tech Republic. There also has to be upgrades in privacy controls, green technology, and overall management of the Internet of Things.
“The Internet of Things will lead to de-centralization. It could lead to the end of cloud computing,” Hardiman warned. “The current trend is centralization – replacing the local computer room with remote cloud services. The clever desktop machine is being replaced with the mobile device.”
“As we build the Internet of Things in the coming years, new types of work and even new industries will spring up that don’t currently exist,” he further predicted. “Who will make all the Things? What will stop hackers switching the lights on and off in a million homes? When the Internet of Things is producing its ocean of data, where can we store it? And how do we use it?”
Though these are definitely challenges, consumers and businesses will look to the technology sector for answers. Products and services will be developed and offered as privacy and security concerns increase. If not enough progress is made by the free market, the government could step in, but as a rule, technology has progressed, as government has largely taken a back seat in most kinds of regulations.
Bottom line: Consumers and businesses want the advantages found with the cloud and the Internet of Things. The cost and time savings alone will make our lives much more pleasant, and appropriate security and privacy solutions will be offered by the sector if they are needed. It’s the time-proven method of technological advancement.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo