Digital Storage And The Internet Of Things

Author

Tom Coughlin, Contributor

December 3, 2014

The Internet of Things is a hot topic recently. As the power of inexpensive low power microprocessors increases they are appearing in more and more devices and products. By networking these devices together we can enable ways to interact with our homes and the things that we carry with us in ways that have never been possible. One popular example is the growing use of network-connected thermostats that allow us to monitor and control our homes remotely. Tom Coughlin is the organizer of the Storage Visions Conferences.

Interconnected intelligent devices (things) will also change the way we work and interact with the things around us. Sensor networks will allow better industrial controls in manufacturing plants as well as new opportunities for energy conservation in office environments. The propagation of intelligent devices and networking will place new strains on and requirements for the Internet and provide new opportunities for digital storage technology to support these intelligent networks.  The infographic below gives some examples of the IoT today.

IoT-Infographic-457x1940

The actual size of the data from individual networked devices is not very great and as some networking experts have pointed out, we need a way to allow low cost transmission of low bandwidth data in places that do not normally have access to conventional WiFi networks, such as outdoors. One way to do this is to create a multi-tier network with both a local network of things utilizing a local content aggregator, which can then be connected to the bigger Internet as needed.

This content aggregator will require some digital storage to store content from the various devices in the local network. Depending upon how the data is then used it can be processed in this local network and the results of that processing and analysis can then be provided to the bigger Internet as appropriate. This may be desirable for a network of things in our homes, since this local network provides some privacy that the broader Internet would not provide. Data can be provided to the Internet as appropriate and per the instructions from the residents.

For industrial applications, low power radios communicating and storing logged data in a local content aggregator could provide a way to store this data until there is enough of it to transmit the aggregated data over the broader network that is built for higher data transmission rates and larger data transfers. Whether for the home, mobile devices, in industry or agriculture a more local aggregation of content combined with tiering of networks (from a local to a more global network) will drive the need for some local storage and in some cases for quite a bit of local storage.

IDC’s Digital Universe analysis of the growth of data projects that intelligent connected devices will increase the amount of “useful data” that can be analyzed and used to make decisions from 22% in 2013 to 35% in 2020. This “useful data” needs to be in digital storage in order to enable the analysis and use of this data. Although as pointed out earlier there will be new needs for data storage in the home with the IoT, there will be even greater demand for storage in data centers for business applications.

At the Storage Visions Conference in early January 2015 speakers will explore the growth of the IoT in industrial as well as consumer applications and its impact on the growth of digital storage. The explosion of data gathering from the things around us although small for individual things, will be large in aggregate.   The requirements for IoT will be a significant driver in digital storage demand and architectures in the next few years. In a sense the Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing us closer to the Storage of Everything (SoE).

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