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5/27/2014
11:36 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
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Internet Of Things: In Search Of An Architecture

The IoT vision still doesn't have a clear architecture from which to build meaningful business applications, an MIT professor says.

8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

A variety of factors are holding companies back from embracing the Internet of Things. Though Gartner predicts there will be 26 billion IoT devices worldwide by 2020, concerns about data ownership, questionable data quality, inadequate network coverage, and integration with business applications are among the IoT roadblocks.

The biggest IoT challenge, according to Professor Sanjay Sarma of MIT, is the lack of an overarching architecture to pull together myriad streams of IoT information into a flexible and responsive ecosystem of applications.

Sarma was among the participants on an IoT panel at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium on May 21 in Cambridge, Mass. He voiced concern about what he sees as a wide array of IoT point solutions designed to accomplish very specific tasks -- irrigate crops, turn the lights on in your home -- without an architecture to connect all that data in a meaningful way.

"Without connecting the dots, you'll have a disastrous, brittle system," Sarma said. "We don't have a clear architecture of where the world will go."

[Cisco says it's "all in" on the Internet of Everything -- but what does that mean? Read Cisco IoE: When Will Its Time Come?]

Using a consumer example -- the concept of the connected home -- Sarma elaborated on the challenges. "Let's say you want to change the experience when you walk into your home. The lights will come on, music will play, temperature will be set. Maybe Google Maps informs the house that you're near, and then a series of actions have to happen to anticipate your arrival." It all seems great, but what if it's not you walking into the house, but your spouse, who dislikes bright lighting, hates your music, and wants it to be cooler? Your spouse now has to change everything, making life more difficult than before.

Another panelist, Chris Kuntz, senior director of business development with ThingWorx, related that home scenario to business. "People understand it's not just about connecting your product, connecting your smart thing, collecting that data," Kuntz said. "It's about how do you connect it with a business process to effect some sort of change."

During the IoT session, panelist Dieter Haban, CIO of Daimler Trucks North America, described how the company has placed sensors in all its trucks sold in North America for the past two years. The goal, Haban said, is to maximize uptime for the vehicles and their drivers.

The sensors send information to Daimler Trucks' call center, where a customer service team notifies the relevant trucking company about a pending maintenance problem

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Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio
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batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/13/2014 | 3:52:34 PM
Re: Design is very important
Susan... thanks God I have a wife... to control my Nest :) manualy :)...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/13/2014 | 3:51:36 PM
Re: Design is very important
yes, Pablo, I heard something simular about Apple... 
Pablo Valerio
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Pablo Valerio,
User Rank: Strategist
6/5/2014 | 4:18:47 AM
Re: Design is very important
Susan, I believe Apple is into something with the Home Kit! People do not want another diffiuclt device to learn and manage.

We are at crossroads with a new wave of connected devices being offered and no easy way to control them. My Samsung Smart TV is a nightmare to operate, so I don't have it connected to the network.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/4/2014 | 7:45:55 PM
Re: It also needs to fit with processes and Enterprise Architecture
@Pieterv682: What you're basically saying is that it's not just HOW we gather all this information, but WHAT we do with it that is really going to be the driver for IoT...and in that sense it's a technology that's also in search of a business model or, if you'll forgive the old-school phrase, a "killer app." Or, in this case, a killer ecosystem of apps might be more appropos.

in regards to your comment here: The architecture needs to be extended not just to the IoT devices, but to how it fits into the enterprise and its processes

I have a few questions for you and for all the folks in the community who are partitipating in this conversation:

--what do you see as the greatest obstacle to extending IoT data into the enterpriese & enterprise processes?

--what is the business model that would make investing in IoT worthwhile?

--Who in the organization needs to have a seat at the table in planning out how to design for IoT?

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/4/2014 | 7:41:05 PM
Re: Security
@Jastro: I see security & architecture going hand-in-hand, really, Without standards it will be difficult to resolve the many security concerns raised by IoT. You're right to sound the alarm on the security issues--how any of this could ever be airtight is beyond my ability to imagine. We can't even keep our information secure and safe now. The thought that my neighbor's teenager might hack my water faucet and prank me with an unexpected shower is less concerning to me than the use of IoT in SCADA design, leading to potential vulneratilbites in the power grid and water systems for entire regions or countries.

Makes me want to grab my tinfoil hat and head to the bunkers.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/4/2014 | 7:37:31 PM
Re: Design is very important
@mdmconsult: There's a lot of good work being done around Bluetooth & also next-gen WiFi. You raise a good question: What does the IoT network look like? We've got Bluetooth, WiFi and Cellular m2m devices out there already--which serves our needs, or will we always require some combination of all three (or something completely new?).

And--where will all this wireless bandwitch come from to bring IoT to every home and office and car?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/4/2014 | 7:33:55 PM
Re: Design is very important
@batye: what do you hope the internet of things will do to make your home life easier?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/4/2014 | 7:33:11 PM
Re: Design is very important
@Pablo: Good dispatch you have there from the Barcelona Digital Global Congress. How many products or applications have we seen fall by the wayside over the years because of poor user interface. Paul Walborsky is right on the money with that one. I am not even sure I can envision what type of user interface I would want to see for, say, my "home of the future."

How do you think the interface should look/feel/operate? Should it be tablet-controlled? Touch/heat senesitive? Voice activated?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/4/2014 | 7:28:55 PM
Re: The IoST (Internet of Shared Things)
@SusanF: I want this scenario you have outlined to be available to me now:

You program only one thing: The device that wakes you up, or, in my case, the time when you want to start your day. When that device goes off it tells your coffee or tea maker to start. There is a kitchen AI making your beakfast, your shower starts so when you step into it it's all nice and warm, etc. So, your day flows beautifully and you can spend your time doing what no one -yet- can do for your: Your brain work, your creations, your research, your writing.

While that sounds like it would make my life so much more manageable, i really do worry about security and privacy. Let's face it, we can't even manage to keep our personal data from being compromised now (Target hack, thank you very much!). I wonder, though, if the sheer volume of informatio about us and our lives in the IoT will become so much that it actually makes the hackers' jobs too difficult.

I know that sounds rather silly, but think about it this way: When you're walking home  late at night, the coventional wisdom is that you are safer in a group than by yourself. LIkewise, perhaps, IoT will unleash such a tidal wave of information that it will become every more difficult for hackers and criminals to isolate the data that really matters to them...

Surely, it won't be my taste in music that they are after.

:)
Pieterv682
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Pieterv682,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/2/2014 | 8:14:13 PM
It also needs to fit with processes and Enterprise Architecture

I have to agree with Chris Kuntz, of ThingWorx who related the home scenario to business. "People understand it's not just about connecting your product, connecting your smart thing, collecting that data. It's about how do you connect it with a business process to effect some sort of change."

We understand the security challenges with IoT and the lack of standards. As IoT adoption increases standards with be developed and implemented. It is the natural evolution of technology adoption processes.

What is equally important is to consider how IoT fits in the Enterprise Architecture and as Chris mentions "how do you connect it with a business process to effect some sort of change". There is a lot of hype around smart devices and big data, but the real value will be realized when it is wired into the operational processes of a business. Adoption (and funding) of IoT will be accelerated when organizations can "listen" for key business events from sensors, "decide" if an intervention is required and "act" in a timely and appropriate manner to these key business events.

This requires that IoT becomes part of the Enterprise Architecture that considers the data from these devices, the other systems that it interacts with and the processes that manages the interventions and actions from the information that we gather from these devices.

Our experience with mature Fortune 10 companies who use smart devices in M2M and Operational Technology (OT) scenarios show that standards will emerge but considering how to create operational benefits from these devices and big data requires some Enterprise Architecture thinking as well.

IoT will also require some thought to manage the operational process applications that deliver the benefit from the devices, and not just applications that manage the devices itself. As Chris said, it is estimated that it will require around 5 to 10 million applications to support the billions of devices to deliver business value. The architecture needs to be extended not just to the IoT devices, but to how it fits into the enterprise and its processes.

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