Internet Of Things: In Search Of An Architecture - InformationWeek

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IoT
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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
5/27/2014
11:36 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
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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 leads 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 EnterpriseEfficiency.com, a UBM ... View Full Bio
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Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 12:58:45 PM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@StaceyE: Good attitude, i happen to agree. Most cynics are really optimists at heart. :)
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 1:02:02 PM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@Batye: And often we do see the benefits of that R&D investment in our personal lives as well. i wish there were another way to do it, though. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 1:00:05 PM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@Batye: Thank you kindly. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 12:59:15 PM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@StacyE: Thanks so much. I guess the best we do is to become is optimistic realists.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 6:47:37 PM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@StaceyE: That's a conundrum i struggle with on a personal level. I'm no proponent of war by a long stretch, but I have to acknowledge that many of the technologies and engineering innovations that shape our daily daily lives came about as a result of initially being developed by the military. Silicon Valley most likely wouldn't exist in its current form if it weren't for the defense spending that poured into this area in the 1950s and 1960s. So while I agree in principal that I would like to see more government spending on engineering that on military, I suspect that in reality the two are more tightly entwined than I'd care to think about.

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/13/2014 | 4:17:29 PM
Re: Design is very important
@Batye: haha! I could use one of those, too. :)
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?
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