Much like mobile computing before it, the ultimate success of the Internet of Things (IoT) will ultimately depend on the cloud services that enable it. Nowhere was that fact brought home more this week than at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Some of the most relevant IoT announcements to IT service providers that were made at CES include:
- An IoT platform from Blackberry that makes use of the company’s core technology to secure communications between a cloud service and end point devices.
- An alliance between PubNub, a provider of a data streaming service in the cloud, and Atmel, developers of processors that are widely used in embedded systems.
- The release of AllJoyn Gateway Agent that connects IoT devices built using the open source project to backend cloud services.
That doesn’t mean that all the application workloads associated with IoT will be processed in the cloud. Limited amount of network bandwidth will clearly make it necessary to process data at the end point. But that data will inevitably be stored and shared via the cloud; in effect not only creating distributed computing systems at a level of scale never before seen but also creating the need for Big Data analytics applications to make sense of all that data. From there, of course, it becomes apparent that the expertise needed to manage, secure, and govern all that data are also going to be in demand as well.
Of course, one of the more limiting factors of the IoT market is a general lack of standards. There is no shortage of IoT standards. The problem is that none of them have gained enough traction, which makes it difficult for IT services firms to craft repeatable IoT solutions. Instead, each IoT project winds up being its own unique adventure. While a significant amount of progress is expected to be made on this issue in the months and years ahead, until there is a standard, there isn’t so much an “Internet of Things” as much as there are simply a whole lot of different things individually connected to the Internet.
With over 900 of those IoT products and services on display this week at CES, it’s clear that just about each and every device imaginable is going to be hooked up to the Internet. But while smart watches and connected cars may capture the spotlight, the real money is going to be in traditional business applications that address a range of vertical industry opportunities that previously might never have been either realistically affordable to deploy or, in some cases, never before thought possible.