The internet of things (IoT) is not new. In fact it's been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected World.
If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT then you'll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, big data analytics, 'things such as fridges, thermostats, heart monitors—and other wearable technologies—web communication, applications, network, storage. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software or, as we like to say, it's an internet of many different things.
The difference is that what has, in the past, been disparate and disconnected systems are now rapidly becoming uniform, connected, and always-on systems. That’s why, to ensure future competiveness, all businesses of all shapes and sizes must start readying themselves now for the IoT.
First and foremost, this requires unshackling themselves from the current confines and limitations of the web. After all, now just turned 25 years of age, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the current ‘HTTP’ web architecture—request/response driven, slow, laden with considerable overhead, and inefficient—is perhaps the single biggest barrier keeping growing businesses from maximising the potential of the IoT.
However, this presents a problem. The intersection of the IoT and the future will, to a very great extent, happen on the web, and the 'things' businesses want to talk to are typically encircled by web infrastructure like firewalls, proxies and such. For example, with the current web setup, problems start to occur with modern businesses when they try to increase workforce mobility and service agility to boost their productivity and customer satisfaction.
But the web is about to take a gigantic leap forward when it comes to web communication, a leap that will go very fast and most likely take the established world of legacy web solutions by surprise. We have already felt the beginnings of change; the web is moving into its next phase, morphing from a static and stale network to a live, interactive, and constantly changing mesh of communication, an event-driven web.
This new web will allow us to interact with customers and suppliers at levels we couldn’t have imagined five years ago, solve business problems that seemed impossible, continue to innovate using the web as a foundation for new solutions benefiting humanity, accessing systems and share information at levels never seen before. The web as we know it today was only the beginning, now the web will change everything.
Accelerating the web
It is here and now that the legacy web technology offered by existing enterprise giants such as Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, and Red Hat will fail to deliver. Their solutions were designed with a static and stateless web network in mind, not with an always on, and always connected World of Things. To deliver on the new premise of an event-driven web we have to innovate and deliver solutions that are simpler, faster, and with superior scalability. We are entering a world of high performance web communication, where time is everything and any delays, whether it is 100ms or 100µs, will cost companies millions of pounds in revenue.
To stay competitive, dynamic event-driven businesses need to extend the full power of their self-same enterprise applications onto smart mobile devices replacing their existing request/respond HTTP web architecture with an entirely new architecture—a 'web communication' architecture.
The good news is this is now emerging with the first industry standard technology (known as WebSocket) which can quickly and cost-effectively extend benefits of scale, speed, predictability, reliability, and security across the multiple languages (protocols such as MQTT and CoAP) spoken by the 'things' that are becoming so densely connected in the IoT world. These are tailored for enabling machine to machine, person to person, and person to machine communications, allowing companies to on-board many different things (machines, individuals, and enterprises) to the web in an always-on and always-connected state at unprecedented scale—and with enterprise grade performance, predictability, reliability, and security.
Getting your business ready for IoT:
IoT is many things to many industries with an almost infinite number of decisions to be made—so the best way to prepare is to fully understand your customer demands, not just now but also in the near future, and your competitive landscape. This will tell you if you are fine with what you have or if you have to reconsider your technology choices.
It’s important to properly evaluate what is being signed off before deploying an IoT solution. Right now there are many companies that are trying to ride the wave of IoT without considering this seriously.
Rather than relying on existing software that has been rebadged ‘IoT-ready’, enterprises should select new established IoT technologies that are designed from the ground up to support this new world. These will offer greater ROIs, better TCO's, and greatly improved user experiences and security.
As with any major technology shift it is important to stay open minded to new ideas and emerging technologies—those that may help you stay ahead in the next 10 to 20 years—but at the same time carefully check out the in-built and third party security measures adopted by device and software vendors. In their rush to jump on the IoT bandwagon there will be some that have not given data security and privacy due consideration.