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Making Most Of IoT By Moving To Edge

At the heart of IoT lies the idea of a self-configuring and adaptive network which connects real-world things to the Internet.

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As you read this, there are more connected ‘things’ or devices in the world than there are people. That situation is expected to change even more dramatically by 2025 when an estimated 8 billion humans will inhabit the Earth connected by more than 75 billion devices. The relentless evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the last decade has grown into a vast, robust and mature ecosystem bringing benefits to a wide variety of industries.  

At the heart of IoT lies the idea of a self-configuring and adaptive network which connects real-world things to the Internet, enabling them to communicate with other connected objects, leading to a new range of services. But IoT is much more than just that. It will be definitively transformative for industrial and commercial applications, more so given the explosion of data. With it, computing will move from the Cloud to the Edge as businesses vie to capture, aggregate, transform, analyse and preserve data in real-time. Edge computing has the potential to be the real game changer, as organizations leverage the value extracted from this data deluge to make important, real-time business decisions. 

The sheer enormity of the opportunity on hand can be gauged by the growth in the size of the market. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that in the next two years the worldwide IoT market will reach $1.7 trillion, up from $674 billion in 2017. In India, the market potential of IoT is expected to reach $15 billion in a year’s time, roughly 5 per cent of the global market share. A 31x growth is envisaged in IoT units in India, reaching 1.9 billion by 2020. Approximately, 12 per cent of the world's connected population resides in India.  

A joint report by IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) and Deloitte, predicts a $12 billion IoT opportunity in industrial manufacturing, energy, agriculture, utilities, transport, and logistics. The Government of India’s plans of 100 smart cities at a cost of $1 billion per year for the next 5 years will open up further opportunities. 

Already, IoT is giving rise to a new kind of industrial floor where smart machines connected to each other are enhancing productivity. In recent years as costs of sensors have come down, machine manufacturers have incorporated these and computing capability into their products. In agri-tech, sensors detect pests and release pesticides accordingly. Irrigation control depends on sensors that detect soil moisture, temperature, and air humidity. The manufacturing sector has been using RFID tags to track real-time productivity. Smart tools to manage manufacturing processes like measuring and drilling have been deployed to improve production efficiency and perform predictive maintenance. In warehousing "picking and stacking" operations, RFID has been in use for several years now.  

Edge Computing

When a large number of connected devices have to operate in tandem, there is a need for a scalable architecture to accommodate these without any degradation in the quality of service. This makes the location where the data is stored and analysed extremely important. Analytical tools need to work with real-time data, and the best place to do that is where the real-time data sits – right at the Edge of the network where IoT connects the physical world to the Cloud. 

Today, most IoT devices are resource-constrained in terms of computing power, energy, bandwidth, and storage. Many of these challenges are being mitigated by edge computing, or On-Premise computing. By moving computing closer to the data gathering nodes or edge devices (such as mobile phones, surveillance cameras, connected automobiles, etc.), it is possible to increase efficiency, reduce costs and speed up response times. Edge computing not only reduces latency and augments agility, but also makes it easier to preserve the privacy of sensitive content in the age of growing cyber threats.   

Open Standards

With such large numbers of devices talking to each other, there is a need to address concerns about connectivity and interoperability and have conversations around open standards and protocols. Open protocols such as TCP/IP have made the Internet what it is today. With the IoT set to become as ubiquitous, similar open standards are required.  

IETF, the Internet Engineering Task Force, which develops and promotes voluntary Internet standards, has defined several open standards for IoT such as the RPL, the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) and 6LoWPANs, while the Internet of Things Work Group has defined the Open Messaging Interface (O-MI), and Open Data Format (O-DF) based on XML. 

At Dell, we believe that customers must be able to leverage existing equipment and data to make the most of the current technology investments. Users can take advantage of analytics scenarios that span gateways, data centers and cloud, leading to analytics-driven decisions.  

Simply put, there is going to be a new world out there and with it, newer ways of doing business.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Alok Ohrie

The author is President and Managing Director, Dell Technologies, India

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