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@ThingsExpo: Blog Post

Is the Internet of Things Amassing on Your Radar? By @EFeatherston | @ThingsExpo [#IoT]

For some, given the hype and the perception of tiny little packets of data, IoT is not on their radar

I recently saw an unusual post online that caught my eye. It was a standard weather radar picture from a Wisconsin TV Station (WFRV-TV Ch. 5). In the image you can see a large green area that normally denotes rain. What particularly caught my eye was that this image labeled the large green swatch over Lake Winnebago as "Lake Flies!"

My first reaction was that clearly this had to be a joke, but a quick internet search on ‘lake flies radar' proved me wrong - there was even a great article last year from Wired discussing it. Each "lake fly" by itself is small (less than 1/2 inch), but have a mass hatching in May every year. The sheer volume of the hatching can fill the sky, as well as show up on weather radar, looking like a storm stretching for miles in all directions. Fortunately for all living in the area, the life cycle of these flies is measured in weeks and the skies will soon clear.

The Internet of Things Are Amassing
There is no denying the Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic. One industry analyst positions IoT as being at the peak of the ‘hype cycle.' From a size perspective, these ‘Things' can be anything, from a small sensor to a large appliance, and everything in between. The data transmitted by these devices, for the most part, tends to be small in size - tiny packets of information being sent through the cloud for consumption and analysis somewhere else. For some, given the hype and the perception of tiny little packets of data, IoT is not on their radar. For those people, it's just tiny, little flies buzzing around, nothing serious to be concerned or worried about. Seeing that radar picture immediately returned me to those conversations and thoughts.

Is there hype? Yes. As with any new technology, there is always a level of hype involved. Are the data packets involved small? For the most part, yes (there are always exceptions). While both may be true, one respected industry analyst predicts that there will be 4.9 billion (with a B) connected ‘things' by the end of this year, up 30% from last year. They further predict that the number of ‘things' will exceed 25 billion in another 5 years. No matter how you view it, that's a lot of devices and data amassing, creating a large blip on everyone's radar screen.

How Much of a Problem Can It Be?
There are several areas that could be impacted by that large blip on the radar approaching your data center.

  • Security: Security concerns come in two flavors here. First, traditional networked boundaries no longer apply. Mobile started us down this path and now, the Internet of Things introduces a huge volume of new access points of risk to our internal systems. Second is the ‘pedigree' of data being received from these devices. We need to ensure the data received is valid and from a trusted source. For this, security and data validation plans need to be well strategized and designed.
  • Data privacy: Wearables and home sensors will continue to send large volumes of personal data into the cloud, where the individual may lose sight/control of that information. Personal data privacy needs and risks must be identified and transparently communicated to the consumer, mitigating worrying and protecting their data.
  • Network bandwidth: As I previously mentioned, the data packets will be inherently small in size, but the volume of messages will be huge, potentially overwhelming a corporate WAN if there is no plan in place.
  • Storage: The real value of all these devices is the data. All this data will be stored and kept for analysis in large data lakes that could impact storage plans within a business. Storage and archiving of all that volume of data must be addressed.

That Blip on the Radar Won't Be Fading Anytime Soon
My analogy only goes so far. The lake flies only show up once a year, and they are only on the radar for a few weeks before disappearing. Based on all estimates by industry analysts and current trends, the Internet of Things is growing at an incredible rate and is here to stay. That big radar blip outside your data center is not going anywhere and provides great value, but also many challenges that need to be taken into consideration. As many of my readers have heard me say frequently, no technology negates the need for good design and planning. The Internet of Things demands it if you are to be successful. Don't just brush that fly away, he has lots of friends heading your way.

This post is brought to you by The CIO Agenda.

KPMG LLP is a Delaware limited liability partnership and is the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. The KPMG name, logo and "cutting through complexity" are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG LLP.

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is VP, Principal Architect at Cloud Technology Partners. He brings 35 years of technology experience in designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, and cloud technologies. He has delivered projects in various industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

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