I’m at the 2014 Internet of Things Expo, which is part of the larger 2014 Cloud Expo happening this week at the Santa Clara Convention Center. What has me interested in attending the Internet of Things (IoT) Expo? I was intrigued by the fact that they were offering a specific Enterprise IoT track.
With so much of the current IoT hype focused on the consumer impact that wearables and the smart home will bring (plus daily reports of drones spying on celebrities), it can get lost in the noise that there are or will be plenty of great IoT solutions and benefits that exist for the business.
So, how is IoT for the consumer different than IoT for the business?
At face value they are not that different. You are talking about using devices or things to collect information and data more easily and efficiently than you could have before, and using that information to your own benefit. While this concept is really not new, it definitely has been enhanced with new types of connected, location-aware devices and things as well as easier and faster ways to collect, transport and analyze the data that these devices and things generate. The differences between the consumer and corporate model often relates to security and scale. The typical Enterprise will generate much more data and have much more rigid security requirements than the typical consumer. Scale will also require the Enterprise to recognize and support multiple protocols and standards as they deal with different types of IoT solutions across the Enterprise. The days of standardizing on a single IT solution was driven out by the consumerization of ITand will only be made worse by the Internet of Things.
In these differences will evolve methods for the Enterprise to manage this scale.
At the show we heard Red Hat talk about the “Intelligent Enterprise” and how the typical Enterprise will have an IoT controller of some sort that will sit between the devices and the cloud, serving as an intermediary that can filter and summarize data before sending to a datacenter/cloud as well as offer real-time actions and rule enforcement. MuleSoft even mentioned that we might have a “Hub of all Hubs” to help provide this layer of control since initially there may be too many disparate ecosystems to manage and that consolidation of protocols and standards is not on the short term horizon. While this controller will offer security capabilities, it will not be the classic firewall type model. IBMmentioned that with IoT we will be moving from ‘controlled access to ‘controlled trust’, that this will be the only way to provide security in a model where everything is connected. If this all sounds familiar, it is because it is.
The concept of a controller in the network is definitely not new.
Security based on controlled trust vs. controlled access has been around for a while and was driven heavily by the explosion of mobile devices into the Enterprise (remember the deperimeterization of the network?). The point that IoT is really not new was made several times by multiple vendors throughout the show. However, the point was also made that the pace of change is accelerating and will continue to do so as more and more things are connected, more data is collected, and more intelligence and knowledge is gleaned from the data. This rapid evolution of IoT will force the Enterprise to deal with new devices, new protocols, new standards, new connections, etc… This will lead to new solutions that while may be familiar and share similarities with known concepts, how they help the Enterprise turn all of this data into actionable services will be where there is plenty of innovation to be had. It should be a fun ride.
Chris Witeck is a Principal Technology Strategist with Citrix Labs. Citrix Labs is an applied research organization within Citrix. To get updates on what the Citrix Labs team is following as well as projects the Labs team is working on, you can subscribe to the Citrix Labs LinkedIn group