The internet of things (IoT) is one of the most talked-about technologies of the past few years. More and more devices are able to connect to the Internet now, allowing companies to tap into devices without physically operating them. Analyst house Gartner predicts that by 2021, there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet. IoT has a lot of potential applications that will benefit companies, but how do you process all the data it will generate?
That's where cloud computing comes in. Another relatively new technology, cloud computing, and IoT go hand-in-hand with each other. The cloud has allowed for IoT devices to store the data they produce without having to waste space on physical servers. As more businesses adopt IoT devices into their infrastructure, they will also have to change the way they look at the cloud. What do the capabilities of IoT mean for the cloud, and how can companies prepare themselves if they're looking to integrate IoT devices?
Visibility and scalability
Cloud networks need to be able to see IoT devices on their network if they're going to work with them. To properly communicate with IoT devices, cloud providers will need to ensure their software can properly detect IoT devices just like they would any other computer. Likewise, IoT devices must be capable of creating an address and information that the cloud can interpret.
Most cloud networks have the ability to scale up and down depending on the number of devices it detects. This is important for IoT since it will increase the number of devices connected to a network. IoT has the potential to drastically expand a business's infrastructure, and the cloud must expand alongside it.
Obviously, devices that have no connectivity (or "dumb devices") pose zero security risk to networks. Once you introduce network connectivity into a device (making it a "smart device"), it suddenly becomes much more dangerous. Just like any computer, an IoT device needs security measures applied to it in order to prevent malicious attacks from outside the network.
It may be easy to assume that devices that are traditionally non-connective won't be a big threat once they become smart. In reality, they should be treated like any other computer or mobile device. The jury's still out on whether or not IoT devices are easier or harder to hack into than computers. Since IoT devices connect to the same channels as regular devices, that means they have the potential to act as a lightning rod for DDos and other botnet attacks.
The rise of edge computing
While the cloud can compute IoT data just fine, it may not always be the best option for it. IoT devices create a ton of data but can't necessarily process them that's up to the cloud to handle. However, the introduction of edge computing (or fog computing) may help alleviate that burden. Edge computing processes the data closer to the IoT source before transmitting it to the cloud. This reduces the effects on bandwidth, storage, and cloud computation, leaving more power for the cloud to operate elsewhere.
Edge computing will not completely eliminate the necessity of the cloud for IoT, though. Indeed, most IoT devices will still rely on the cloud to store all that processed data. Edge computing will simply help balance the workload that cloud systems will have to do, preventing IoT from overwhelming the cloud's power.