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We live in an increasingly connected world. Never in human history has information been so readily available. Today, it’s not just people that are more connected, but devices that connect to people and processes, and people that connect to devices that connect them to other people, processes, and devices. It really is a connected world – and we have information to thank for that.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is playing a significant role in connectivity, and today we look at the role of cloud-agnostic hardware in the IoT. We will cover critical questions being asked in the IoT industry today. These include the benefits of cloud-agnostic hardware, how cloud-agnostic hardware impacts the future of IoT, and whether there is an alternative to cloud-agnostic hardware.
Related: The Internet of Things promises a future where you are spoiled by your devices
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects embedded with sensors and other connectivity technologies that connect and exchange data with other systems and devices over the Internet.
If you’re checking your smartphone for the latest reports on your sleep patterns, heart rate and calories lost from your last workout, have you ever wondered how all this information is collected? Tiny but powerful sensors and software reside within your wearable device. These are designed to manage all your fitness information, analyze it and send it back to you as a report on your smartphone.
In an increasingly connected world, connected devices are tools to access and share important information related to home, health, finance and even news. Smart home appliances and wearables are widely used as unique technologies to help with everyday tasks. Experts predict that the use of connected devices will increase as part of an ecosystem of connected devices.
See also: The Internet of Things: New Threats Emerge in a Connected World
From healthcare to power and energy to manufacturing, every industry is turning to the IoT to improve operational efficiency and productivity and create new business opportunities. IoT hardware used across industries includes accelerometers, temperature, image, light, acoustic, and pressure sensors.
Industry is increasingly recognizing the importance of using data efficiently and integrating disparate systems to gain greater transparency and insight into their operations.
Does IoT need the cloud?
Technically, IoT does not require a cloud. Many data processing and command forms can be done locally using a simple internet connection.
Cloud-agnostic hardware – Sensors and devices communicate with the cloud via connectivity (satellite, cellular, Wi-Fi, LPWAN, and even Bluetooth). Data collected in the cloud is processed by software that decides what action is required. For example whether data needs to be sent as an alarm or in some cases used to adjust sensors/devices without human intervention.
See also: How entrepreneurs are connecting the world to IoT
The benefits of cloud-agnostic hardware in today’s IoT
Industry uses a large number of sensors to collect and process data and then make intelligent decisions based on that data. The cloud is crucial when it contains large amounts of important data.
For example, at NCD, we have developed an IoT-SDI soil moisture temperature EC transmitter that uses a wireless mesh network architecture with an SDI soil probe. The probe samples the EC value of soil moisture temperature at multiple locations and sends a wireless transmission to remote modems and gateways. Farming companies use this technology to compare soil moisture data received from sensors in different locations after planting the same seeds. Without the cloud, it would be difficult to compare data across multiple domains.
If several thousand sensors were used without the cloud, each sensor would have to take on enormous computing power, which would be both expensive and energy-intensive. With a cloud solution, data about the sensors can be seamlessly transferred to the cloud where all the aggregated data is processed, analyzed and processed.
Over the years, we’ve seen cloud-agnostic hardware advantages deliver to businesses across all industries. These include:
- Lower investment and infrastructure costs
- Pay-as-needed for storage and compute
- Exceptionally high scalability of the system
- Always avaliable
- Less stress on battery-powered devices and sensors, resulting in longer lifespans
- The ability to collect massive amounts of data efficiently.
Cloud Agnostic Sensor is a device that can send data to any cloud service out there. Users have the choice to choose the best cloud option, or if they don’t want to use the cloud, they can still use their sensors. You have complete control over your data and how it is presented.
Sharing a symbiotic relationship
While IoT doesn’t always depend on cloud computing, there is an undeniable symbiotic relationship between the two. Over 10 billion active IoT devices will reach 25.4 billion in the next eight years (by 2030). At the same time, cloud computing has seen a steep rise, with over 94% of businesses relying on cloud services. The total amount of data from IoT devices alone is expected to reach 73.1 zettabytes in the next three years (by 2025). IoT applications can rely solely on the cloud to provide the massive power needed to host and process this vast amount of data.
As IoT deployment continues to reach new heights, there is no doubt that developers will face challenges hosting and processing data. At NCD, we’ve been busy understanding future IoT trends and potential concerns across all industries, and here are some of them.
- Companies are faced with challenges associated with setting up an IT infrastructure.
- As IoT deployment continues to reach new heights, the need for speed in mission-critical scenarios such as remote patient monitoring, perimeter monitoring, connected cars, autonomous vehicles, telemedicine, and robotics will also increase.
- Latency and performance, scalability, cost and security issues will be concerns across industries.
- IoT deployment is becoming increasingly complex as it grows in popularity. A more comprehensive offering of sensors, configurations, network technologies, software platforms, and protocols will compound a developer’s nightmare.
- As IoT databases grow exponentially, so does the need for scalability. However, with scalability comes a huge cost (operational costs and costs associated with managing multiple sites).
There is a solution to all these problems: cloud computing and agnostic hardware. Developers will turn to different cloud architectures – hybrid clouds, public clouds, private clouds and even multi-clouds – to solve at least a significant part of their problems. For everything else, edge computing will come to the rescue.
Also see: 8 ways IoT devices can improve your office
Edge and where it fits into the scheme of things
More and more devices are connecting to the internet every second. By 2025, 152,200 new devices will connect to the internet every minute. This could lead to massive performance and latency issues for time-sensitive data in the future.
Not all data is time-sensitive, but active data (e.g. real-time glucose levels or heart health metrics) cannot tolerate delay. It must be delivered immediately via medical devices or sensor-based alarm systems. This is where edge data centers can come to the rescue. To ensure the delivery of critical information in near real-time, IoT developers must consider moving to an edge computing architecture that uses edge data centers closer to the edge devices, thereby improving performance.
Processing data directly on edge devices is an option. Yet these devices often have minimal computing resources and are unable to handle workloads such as machine learning, AI, and video analytics.
Back to the cloud
We are once again looking to the cloud for solutions to our future problems. And like every cloud has a silver lining, cloud forecasts help us believe that cloud-agnostic hardware will undoubtedly hold the key to the future of IoT. Based on our experience at NCD, we expect the following:
- A rise in multi-cloud adoption in the IoT industry.
- Cloud environments will provide more security to eliminate security risks.
- Cloud computing is used along with edge computing to handle massive data loads that edge computing cannot handle.
- The growing demand for cloud data storage will ensure greater storage capacity for IoT devices without compromising on speed.
- AI will continue to evolve into the pillar that supports cloud computing (data management and data insights).
Whichever way you look at it, there’s no denying the critical need for cloud in IoT and the need for cloud-agnostic hardware. Whether used in silos or with edge devices, business and industry-specific IoT devices rely on the cloud to support large IoT ecosystems. Cloud-agnostic hardware is the way forward – it’s the only way to keep up with the fast-growing IoT industry.
See also: Three ways IoT is shaping the smart cities of the future