As computers get smaller and networks become more pervasive, the very nature of computing is changing.
Technology has evolved to help enterprises with their problems, so they can be free—free to focus on business. This has been a gradual process and it’s been going on for decades, helping people and organizations do the jobs that no one wants to. It’s now reached an inflection point where it is forecast as a central trend in IT for the next decade. It’s called the Internet of Things, or IoT, for short.
Wikipedia defines IoT as follows:
The internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
You may be wondering, though, what does all of this mean for ME?
It’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked it. It means that the nature of computer applications is changing. Some may be concerned that problems could arise – too much technology, SkyNet and all of that. But, thanks to IoT, technology can be used to create applications for the jobs that nobody really wants to do and also help enterprise escape, so they can focus important things, like driving business. We all need control, and now, with IoT, enterprises are offered control through apps.
There are many ways that future IoT apps will be classified, but I’d like to offer a simple, modern taxonomy to help you see where this technology is headed. Consider three broad categories of applications borne of the evolution of IoT:
The Consumer World of IoT
I’ve got a secret (“Secret! Secret! I’ve got a secret!”) How IoT affects consumers is usually the easiest thing for people to understand because, every day, we’re consumers, right? Many of the commonly used examples of IoT involve consumer devices.
I just left the office to head to Florida for a leadership meeting, and I can tell you that the ability to monitor and control my home’s thermostat, lighting and security is cool. But what is super-cool is having peace of mind, and IoT-connected devices can deliver that. They make it possible to check in with my family via security functionality while I’m thousands of miles away, and this puts my mind at ease (to say the least). As more and more of these devices come online, we will see the operations of these individual devices fade into the background as the environment learns to react to the consumer’s needs, like mine.
“I am the modern man! (Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!)” Hold on now while I fully geek out about this stuff (and feel free to join me—you won’t be able to help yourself).
A directional example of what I’m talking about is this application shared on Twitter by @jmuthuku. It combines numerous consumer-grade connected devices that we’re all familiar with—Amazon Echo, Fitbit and Belkin WeMo power sockets—into a workflow that makes the user’s life easier. I bet you can figure out what this simple IoT application does just by looking at the Octoblu workflow (even if you’re not a coder)!
The Industrial World of IoT
GE used the 2016 Summer Olympics as a platform to tell the world they were investing in IoT. In their ads during the games, they introduced the audience to the idea that GE isn’t just building big machines, as they’ve done for more than a century, but that they’re now building machines that “talk to each other digitally.”
The LA Times noted these ads were highly effective, and we’ll surely see more of this going forward. But what does this mean in terms of real application? Well, I’m still on this plane to Florida, so let’s consider the idea of connected jet engines. “Why would you connect a jet engine to the Internet? We’ve had jet engines since the 40s and they didn’t talk to the Internet. We got along just fine!” Before you start shouting, “get off my lawn!” consider the following advantages:
- The engines could self-monitor and phone ahead to the plane’s next stop when a maintenance issue is detected
- Massive amounts of telemetry could be collected across a fleet of engines. This could give insight to the builder on how to create better engines for future generations
- New business models could be created where the manufacturer stops selling or leasing engines at all and starts instead renting them by the flight hour
Citrix is focused on innovation and building IoT connection points to Industrial IoT applications going forward. Consider this example: NetScaler helps enable companies to deliver applications to millions of connected users, like yourself, searching on the web and reading this blog post. Consider how this technology can help as we scale to billions of connected devices—NetScaler is already used in many telemetry applications. In fact, I’ll bet that the super-lightweight NetScaler CPX will play a critical role in this space going forward.
The Enterprise World of IoT
Today, most Citrix customers aren’t using Citrix technology to control their homes or to power their industrial machines. They use Xen-family technologies, like XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile and XenServer, to power their day-to-day business applications. But make no mistake—IoT will also transform this enterprise landscape.
Today, almost all “Enterprise Applications” are delivered to the you, the end-user, as a collection of pixels behind a screen. Over time, we’ve moved from workstations to PCs to laptops and now to phones and tablets. But it’s still all pixels. That’s about to change.
Much like the consumer examples cited above, Enterprise IoT applications will grow to encompass new devices and concepts. This will extend an applications concept of location and identity in new ways.
Consider the HPE Collaborate Cube that was shown at Citrix Synergy this year. This immersive environment, built by HP Technology Services using Citrix Octoblu and Aruba, shows what happens with IoT technologies when they allow a conference room to become “smart” and instantly react to user needs.
So, what are the business benefits of these types of enterprise IoT applications? Here are just a few:
- Improved employee productivity, as previously manual tasks become transparent and automatic
- Increased data about the use of physical assets (e.g. conferences rooms and offices) that allow analytics to enable better decision making and planning
- Better security as location services supplement the concept of user identity
Citrix core technologies, like XenApp and XenMobile, will easily extend onto this expanded technology landscape, as software like Citrix Receiver and Secure Forms become natural integration points between the existing world and the new.
Citrix helps companies securely deliver their apps and data and we are extending that expertise to IoT. For a first-hand look at how this new generation of IoT applications will be built and delivered, check out Citrix Octoblu technology. Octoblu provides an avenue for anyone to experiment. Thousands of users are already building flows that are connecting over one million connected device and service end-points. Octoblu provides ready-made connectors for most core Citrix technologies, as well as a large array of IoT devices and web services. It’s free to try. Go sign up now.
Let Citrix help you say yes to IoT.