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Addressing the challenges facing the Internet of Things

3/30/2016 8:09:34 PM

What does the future look like for the Internet of Things? The concept – which refers to adding support for the Internet protocol suite to everything from thermostats to washing machines – has been around for a while, but it is still in the early stages in terms of actual implementation:

  • In the U.S., there are only 24.9 connected devices per 100 people as of early 2016 – well ahead of the U.K. (13 devices) but still significantly behind South Korea (37.9 devices), according to numbers from Shodan and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
  • These numbers include traditional computing gadget such as PCs, smartphones and tablets as well newer IoT ones. Mobile phone users alone will surpass 6 billion by 2020, as per numbers from the Ericsson Mobility Report.
  • Accordingly, these findings suggest that the tens of billions of networked IoT devices foreseen by firms such as Gartner (which has projected that 21 billion such devices will be in use by 2020) have not yet materialized.

It may take at least until the end of the decade for the potential of the IoT to be unlocked. The development of 5G cellular service could be particularly important here, since this next generation of mobile networking will not only boost connection speeds but also directly address use cases such as connected cars, smart homes and embedded systems.

Security, standardization and integration still present major roadblocks to the IoT's success

SMBs and enterprises embarking on a journey to the IoT can expect major headwinds as they wrangle with issues such as data security and complex technical integrations.

"The scale of the IoT makes it challenging to secure."

The scale of the IoT, as well as the primitive interfaces of many of the devices in it (many of them cannot even receive a security patch/update), makes it fundamentally challenging to secure. There is enormous risk in a device such as a home security camera being compromised, or an Internet-connected assembly line becoming unavailable.

"IoT assumes, in almost every case, either that (a) everything works correctly all the time, or (b) we can tell that it's not working correctly and ignore it until it's fixed," explained John Parkinson of Waterstone Management Group, for CFO.com. "Underlying these seemingly reasonable assumptions is the belief that we can trust all the smart connected devices in the IoT world to tell us the truth about what they're doing all the time."

The Internet of Things has a lot of promise, but distinctive challenges as well.The Internet of Things has a lot of promise, but distinctive challenges as well.

How will organizations rise to the challenge? Collaboration with managed service providers, cybersecurity vendors and original equipment manufacturers is a good place to start.

Standardization and integration
There are a lot of moving parts in the IoT, including different protocols and APIs, a wide range of hardware types and a lot of software that has to be put through the testing paces. Compatibility between systems cannot be taken for granted.

IT departments have to plan for this reality and allocate sufficient time and money to IoT implementation. Taking advantage of cost-effective cloud computing services, with the help of an MSP, is one of the best ways forward here, allowing teams to get the resources they need to scale their applications and services.

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