It seems everyone has started talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) and embracing the idea of a more connected world. The IoT represents the convergence of machines (or “things”) and data and is predicted to transform multiple industries through intelligent, interconnected devices. Goldman Sachs has defined IoT as:
A trend that connects devices such as every day consumer objects and industrial equipment onto a network, enabling information gathering and management of these devices via software in order to increase efficiency, enable new services, or achieve other health, safety, or environmental benefits.
According to IDC, the installed base of the IoT will be approximately 212 billion devices by 2020. This year alone, IDC expects shipments of smart-connected devices (i.e., PCs, tablets, and smartphones) to surpass 1.7 billion units worldwide.
The IoT differs from the Internet in several ways, but one key difference is that data generated by the devices will need to be stored and processed on the devices themselves, or on solutions that sit between the devices and the Internet. This transition to ‘edge’ computing is distinguishable from cloud computing in its proximity to end-users, its dense geographical distribution, and its support for mobility.
IoT will have broad-based implications for both the consumer and enterprise spaces. First, as more devices enter the workplace as part of BYOD (bring your own device), IT departments are struggling with a wide range challenges such as device management and security. To further the development, adoption, and wide-spread use of interconnected machines, several leading technology, government, industrial, and academic leaders have come together and formed the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC). The IIC, which Dell has joined, is working not only to create use cases but also to influence the standard-making process, which will allow devices to communicate with each other regardless of manufacturer.
Second, the growing usage of sensors will generate tremendous amounts of data, which will then have to be digested and analyzed in order to become useful. The exponential data growth will require further investment in the data center, specifically in storage and servers, in order to support the increasing internet activity. This should provide a tailwind for the server market, as one server will be required to support 400 smartphone devices, or 100 medical wearable devices, or 40 connected factory tools.
Third, as the number and variety of devices grow, so too does the potential for cyber threats. These threats can range from privacy issues to safety issues – for instance the threat of hackers taking control of smart car steering systems or manufacturing companies’ production lines. Therefore, security is becoming a primary focus as the IoT becomes more prevalent.
Amidst these emerging and growing trends, Dell is participating in the IoT in several ways:
As it is only just beginning to take shape, the future potential for the IoT market is significant. It will generate voluminous amounts of unstructured data, and the opportunity to innovate lies within a company’s ability to create hardware devices and its ability to develop tools, technologies, and/or services to gather, aggregate, analyze, and secure data. Dell will continue to be a part of that, developing solutions that meet our customers’ needs in an ever-changing environment.