The Internet of Things – A passing Technology Buzzword or Big Business for us?

The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) seems to have caught Tech World by storm! It has been a topic of serious debate in technology circles and has steadily gathered steam in the past few months! So what is the (IoT) wave all about? Is it just another buzzword or will it really alter the course of the Internet as we know it? Let’s get some perspective…

What is the Internet of Things?

Imagine that you need to get to work early for a business meeting and you are running a little late. Let’s say you had a sensor/alarm clock in your bed that would notify other devices that you are awake. This would in turn would open up the drapes, get the coffee machine running, and switch on the water heater for your shower. If you have forgotten to turn off the lights/fans because you left home in a hurry, motion sensors will turn them off, thus saving you a lot on electricity bills. Wow, that sounds really exciting, straight out of a sci-fi movie, doesn’t it? Some parts of this are already reality and more are just round the corner! By transferring this kind of technology to everyday objects and equipping them with their own sensors, IPs and access to the Internet, it would help us make develop a smarter home and smarter life!

This, in essence, is IoT. Kevin Ashton is said to have coined the phrase ‘Internet of Things’, and while there are several definitions of IoT floating around the Web, the basic concept is that the Internet is a vast ecosystem of ‘smart’ everyday objects that interact with each other through the Internet.

But how is IoT and a smart home relevant to us and our Industry? In other words, what’s in it for us?

In 2008, the number of devices that were connected to the internet was more than the number of people living on the planet.  A majority of these were devices like smart phones, tablets, laptops etc communicate with each other over the Internet. The number of devices connected to the internet is expected to touch 26 billion by 2020 and as IoT becomes more and more pervasive, there is a lot at stake for the DataCentre Industry and Web Service Providers like us. Here’s why:

Data influx & Higher demand for Efficient Storage Technologies

IoT deployments are speculated to generate a large amount of Data Influx. This Data will need to be processed and analyzed in real time. Given the projected increase in Data in a relatively short period of time, the demand for scalable Internet Infrastructure, and higher storage capacity will only increase, which will further propel Storage Management technologies & server technologies. The magnitude of network connections and data associated with the IoT will accelerate a distributed datacenter management approach that will call for Web service providers like us to offer reliable data storage facilities and efficient system management platforms.

Addressability of Devices in the IoT

Addressability of devices in the IoT is a crucial aspect that is being explored by a few leading Industry players. The Internet ran out of IPv4 addresses in 2010, and while no major impact of this was visible to us, IPv6 deployment will take the centre stage as potentially billions of new sensors will require unique IP addresses.

Verisign’s Object Naming Service (ONS) is a model put forth to tackle the question of addressability from a different angle. ONS is a central registry that stores IP addresses of all the servers that hold EPC (Electronic Product Codes) transmitted by RFID tags. These codes allow individuals to look up information about specific objects across a distributed supply chain. As IoT becomes more and more ubiquitous, it will be interesting to observe how this technology is mirrored and maintained for everyday objects in our home akin to the DNS Service for Domains. Who knows, ONS could also potentially become an additional source of revenue for Web Services providers like us!

New gTLDs in the Internet of Things

ICANNs New gTLD Program is touted as the Internet’s biggest Game Changer. Tie this in with the Internet of Things, and the possibilities are seemingly endless! For starters, imagine if you could access and modify the temperature controls in your refrigerator through a URL like http://www.tedsicebox.fridge. This is just the tip of the iceberg. For brands that manufacture these products, this could be a great way to increase brand personalization with brand specific URLs and extensions.

The road ahead for IoT is still pretty uncertain. It remains to be seen how soon this becomes an integral part of our existence. However the possibilities and projections are extremely promising! If anything, three recent developments indicate that Internet Pioneers are betting big on this –

  • Google’s recent acquisition of Nest Labs (a home automation company) for $3.2 billion,
  • Microsoft’s latest launch of Windows for the Internet of Things
  • Apple’s iBeacon that allows Apps to send customized messages/promotions/coupon codes to users, based on their current location or past history,

Perhaps this next wave of the Internet will be upon on us sooner than we can possibly imagine. Stay tuned! Let us know what you think about IoT in the comments below!

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