The Internet of Things (IoT) is the term used to collectively refer to networked devices that monitor and interact with the environment and each other. IoT usually refers to devices beyond traditional IT infrastructure such as servers, PC’s, tablets, phones, and networking equipment. Although strictly speaking all these are networked devices with sensors and software to monitor and interact with their environments so they can be classed as part of the IoT.
Devices more typically referred to as IoT include those with sensors to detect environmental changes, can have cameras, accelerometers, or other task-specific electronics. All IoT devices collect and share data. Most are networked to share data in real time, often via IoT Gateways, but some collect and store data for later retrieval if used in places where networking connectivity is poor. However, the vast majority of IoT devices don’t tend to need any human interaction, and this is a significant change from the pre-IoT Internet where people using devices provided most of the data created.
Use of IoT is accelerating across many sectors at a phenomenal rate. From consumer devices and appliances to the Industrial Internet where IoT devices are being used to streamline work in manufacturing, engineering, health & safety, remote management, and other scenarios. It’s unlikely that any area of business will be untouched by the growth of IoT over the next decade. Gartner estimates that 6.3 Billion IoT devices will be in use by the end of 2017, with 63% of that total in consumer devices. They report that of the remaining 37% used for business 17% will be generic devices and 20% will be vertical business-specific devices. By 2020 they predict that 20.4 Billion IoT devices will be in use with the percentage in use by consumer devices still 63%, but business usage will change to 21.5% business use of generic IoT devices and 15.5% using vertical business-specific devices. This business use of IoT devices Gartner estimate will be worth $1.4 Trillion in 2020 for hardware alone, with associated services to deploy and manage the IoT infrastructure running into billions.
The rise of IoT devices brings with it an increase in network complexity and in the amount of data that is collected and moved over the Internet. All the IoT devices collecting data need to send it to back-end systems to be stored, analyzed, and integrated. Increasingly this is done by Cloud-based infrastructure based on Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, or other public or private Cloud service. This influx of data introduces bandwidth problems that need to be solved, availability issues as servers are sent all the data, and also security issues. Currently, many IoT devices are not built with robust security protocols built in. Many recent DDoS attacks have used insecure IoT devices to flood websites and web applications (for example the Mirai botnet attack of 21st October 2016).
These issues with IoT devices can be addressed using tools that are available today. KEMP LoadMaster can sit between IoT devices out in the world, and the Cloud or private data center based application infrastructure that will analyze and use the data they collect. Our white paper LoadMaster - Powering the Internet of Things explains how this is done and is available here.