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Nine things you need to know about the Internet of Things

How will machine to machine comms across the cloud work? Here's what you should know

internet of things

1. The IoT has already taken over

The global Internet of Things (IoT) is not just your Smart TV or Alexa or the fancy smartphone-controlled light bulbs in your house, the world is now full of all kinds of internet-enabled devices and they've been widely implemented into enterprises around the world.

Indeed, the success of IoT so far can at least be partly put down to the fact it has taken off across numerous business verticals. It has been incorporated at a base-level in emerging technologies like autonomous cars and within established industries that use the principles on a large scale, such as remote sensors that automate warehouses, oil rigs and shipping yards.

The IoT market is still rapidly growing and is predicted to exceed $1 trillion in value by 2025, according to forecasts by GSMA, a global trade body representing mobile network operators.

Of the 25.2 billion devices expected by 2025, which is 6.3 billion more than in 2016, those deployed in businesses of vertical-specific applications will account for more than half; 13.8 billion devices, versus only 11.4 billion in the consumer market, which is mostly driven by advancements in the smart home market.

2. Humans need to watch out

As devices get more intelligent, users are becoming increasingly dependent upon them. For example, 'Google it' is now the default answer to most questions you cannot be bothered to rack your brains for. Amazon Echo's Alexa can tell you what the weather is like if you're too lazy to look out the window. It can also change the channel on your TV if your index finger is just too tired to press that button on the remote. (Buttons! What is this, the dark ages?)

However, these devices of convenience are more advanced than we realise and have the potential to invade our privacy. Indeed, with great IoT connectivity, comes great responsibility. Last year a little girl used Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant to order a dollhouse and her parents only realised when it turned up on their doorstep. This turned into a news story picked up by San Diego TV, who's anchor said the phrase: "I love the little girl, saying 'Alexa ordered me a dollhouse'". This set off a chain of dollhouse sales from every person watching with an Alexa device.

3. Security is complicated  

The IoT has created all kinds of cybercrime opportunities, such as Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attacks, data theft and gateway entry points. An organised DDoS attack is a common problem for IoT networks and often comes in the shape of a botnet, which connects multiple devices and points them towards a target or website, to overload it.

Devices are also known as endpoints and can provide gateways to over parts of the network where greater control can be utilised or sensitive information can be stolen. For example, the security of a Las Vegas casino was breached when an innovative hacker gained access to an internet-enabled fish tank inside the building.

4. The require more storage

With so many enterprises now deploying multiple IoT endpoints, large-scale data is being collected constantly and cloud storage solutions are an essential business tool.

Many organisation opt for a hybrid cloud storage system, which is a mix of internal and public cloud storage. It's of benefit to companies who wish to retain some or all of their data on-premises, whilst taking advantage of the benefits of the public cloud.

This approach means that business can take advantage of the scalability, reliability and cost savings of public cloud storage, whiles also utilising the additional security and full control of private cloud storage.

5. Network traffic is a nightmare

However, the level of data these endpoints collect is mind-blowing and it is becoming increasingly costly and inefficient to stream all this information to the cloud or to a data centre for management, analysis and decision making.

Sending all this data to a centralised cloud or storage facility can be unnecessary and clog up the bandwidth, cause latency issues which slow your operation down and in some cases, there can be server performance implications, particularly in remote locations with poor network connectivity.

This is has seen the rise in Edge Computing, which is a sort of data triage that operates closer to where endpoints collect data and process it in real time. According to research from Gartner, enterprise generated data created and processed outside of a traditional centralised data centre or cloud will increase from the less than 10%, being generated today, to 75% by 2022.

6. The IoT is vital for AI

Artificial intelligence could one day replace humans in the workplace, either positively by helping to do our tasks, or negatively by doing them without involving us, which is a hot topic of debate. By using data that is inputted into a system and then injecting a code to help the computers make intelligent decisions based on the possible outcomes.

Although AI is said to be a gimmick by some critics, it has the potential to be highly useful in many different sectors, such as healthcare and legal services where the process of data can be sped up far beyond human capabilities and utilised more efficiently.

With multiple IoT devices able to harvest such large quantities of data it is accelerating AI research and helping to implement it in industries across the world.

7. The IoT will transform our cities

By far the most compelling application of IoT can be found within the industry where AI is revolutionising the way we do business. Smart cities are helping to cut down on waste and energy consumption, while manufacturers are now able to use connected machines that automate repair call outs. Connected sensors are now even being used in farming, where they help to monitor crop and cattle yields and predict growth patterns.

8. What lies ahead

Despite its wide implementation, we are at the begin of the IoT revolution and it will be some time before we really understand its effect on our lives and the economy. For it to really take off, we need the rest of the technology world to catch up. Management tools, bespoke IoT operating systems and communication standards all still need to be properly developed and with the expansion of internet-connected devices, we are opening up more opportunities for hackers. It's safe to say the IoT is going to change everything.

9. There’s nothing to worry about 

The benefits of the IoT far outweigh the security risks and we are already seeing its positive impact in the business world and everyday life.

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