It’s a term that we hear a lot in the industry these days. the IoT, the internet of things and in this post we want to take a look at what is the internet of things and how is it poised for growth in the future and what sort of impact might it have on us.
First of all, let’s just think about what is the internet of things? What do you think of when I say the internet of things?
Well if you were to ask me I might think about my ring doorbell. I install that just a few months ago and if somebody comes up to the door, first of all, I’ll get an alert on my smartphone and on my apple watch that there’s motion near my front door. And if somebody rings the doorbell I’ll get an alert about that. I’m able to see them. I’m able to monitor what’s going on at the front door.
There’s a camera built-in. A high-definition camera. I’m able to listen or talk back and forth with the person at the front door. I had somebody not too long ago ring the doorbell and I was in my basement and I was able to talk with him they were trying to sell something. So I was able to get rid of them without actually having to go to the door and talk to them face to face. That was pretty cool. But that’s an example of an internet of things application. It’s a connected doorbell.
You might have the hue lights that allow you to turn lights on or off and to change the colors of lights, you might be able to control the temperature in your home using a Nest thermostat that you can control remotely. There are all sorts of examples of things that are now connected used to they were a standalone device.
You had a thermostat, you had a doorbell, and those were standalone autonomous devices but now we’re starting to integrate those things along with lots of other appliances like you see here on screen were starting to integrate those together into a service. It’s not just a thing anymore, it’s providing a service where we can monitor, we can control that remotely. And that monitoring and the controlling that takes it from this thing that has this function, it turns it into more of a service.
I would also notice the car on screen. I heard a really interesting statistic about that. In the first quarter of 2016, there were more cars connected to a cell service than phones. I know that was hard for me to believe too. So I went and researched it the numbers in the first quarter of 2016 of all devices connected to cellular services 31%, were phones, 23% were tablets, 14% of those cellular connected devices did machine-to-machine communication, and 32% or cars. So the internet of things was getting more and more connected devices. It is here to stay. It’s growing by leaps and bounds and that’s what we want to consider.
First of all, let’s think about some of the drivers that are making this happen why is this happening. Now or for one thing its fairly easy to get high-speed internet access like they said in the movie the field of dreams. If you build it they will come well. Now that we’ve got these super high-speed connections into our home were not using dial-up anymore. Hopefully, you’re not using dial-up.
Now we’ve got broadband connectivity coming in, maybe if you a cable modem, maybe through google fiber or something like that but we can get really high-speed low latency highly reliable networks and our home and our businesses. And one way to leverage that available bandwidth is to connect more things to the network to use that bandwidth. Of course, more and more devices have Wi-Fi built in.
And not just Wi-Fi, we’ve also got devices with cellular connections. In fact, here’s one that just came to mind I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea where I was stopping breathing multiple times during the night. That’s kind of scary but I got on this CPAP machine and the CPAP machine has a little cellular radio in it. And it uploads my breathing data during the night when I’m wearing this little mask it uploads that data to my pulmonologist. That can take a look at it and go over that data with me.
We’ve got all kinds of devices that have the cellular capability and Wi-Fi capability built right in. And also we’ve got more and smarter phones that people are using. Most people I know do not use feature phones. And we can use these smartphones to control to monitor to interact with a lot of these IoT devices.
And this internet of things industry is really oised for growth. Let me give you some stats on that. The Gartner group has predicted that there’s going to be about six billion connected devices by the year 2020 and Forbes magazine reported that the IoT market is projected to reach 267 billion dollars in sales of devices and services at work with IoT 267 billion dollars that’s over a quarter of a trillion dollars by 2020. And we’ve talked about some of the common applications that are out there. But let’s think about some more.
Top IoT Applications
As reported by Forbes they say that the top three applications include predictive maintenance. This is where we can have monitoring systems on mechanical equipment. And we can monitor the performance of that equipment and we can send alerts to the appropriate people in maintenances.
This reminds me of my daughter’s car. I get emails from my daughter’s car fairly regularly that tells me things like the tire pressure is low, I need to get that checked out soon or the oil life is about to expire and I need to get an oil change. Those are some examples of predictive maintenance that we might have.
Another one is self-optimizing production. Maybe you’ve got a large assembly line. You’ve got all these different flows coming together, maybe there’s a maintenance issue on one particular line. That’s going to impact something on another line. Well by having these lines communicate with one another things can be rerouted around whatever is failing at the moment. It’s almost like a routing protocol where were rerouting around a fail network segment.
Automated inventory management
Another one of the three top applications is automated inventory management. The example that comes to mind here is Heineken. When they sell a keg of beer, they have a monitor on that keg of beer that gets delivered to the bar and they’re able to monitor the amount of beer in the keg and monitor the freshness of that beer. And that way they can make sure that the bar never runs out. They can see exactly where the keg is, how much it has, how fresh the beer is and that’s the way that Heineken can better serve their bar customers by automating that inventory management. And making sure that they get a new keg app to the bar before the current keg or kegs run out.
And to make this discussion a bit more Ciscos the technology that Heineken is using to do that is from Cisco. You see Cisco recently acquired an internet of things company called Jasper. So now its branded as CiscoJasper this collection of devices and services.
In fact, Cisco has an internet of things and applications division and that’s headed up by Rowan Trollope and I was at Cisco live in Las Vegas in 2017 and he gave a great presentation. And one of the things that really resonated with me from that presentation was when he talked about the three different ways of how information technology has impacted business.
How IoT Applications impact business
The first big wave if we could call it that is for them to computing wave. Back in the 1950s and 60s where businesses were getting these big IBM mainframes to offload processing tasks you heard the term data processing a lot. You could have a customer databases a lot of the data was stored on tape but it started to offload some of those routine tasks and automate those through computing.
And of course, those computing technologies evolved through the 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s and then in the early 1990s when the first web browser became available. That’s when the internet started to really impact business in the second wave.
You might remember the term the information superhighway that sounded like something very futuristic I remember back in the 1990s but by having this information superhighway by having the internet available to businesses, suddenly businesses were better able to communicate with their partners and their customers, as well as communicate internally.
And now in this third wave, the internet of things is having yet a different impact on business.
Ron Trollope says_
At the first two ways changed what we did. We changed how we did tasks through computing and through internet connectivity but he says that this third way this internet of things wave is going to change what businesses make.
Computing and the internet really didn’t do that so much. It didn’t change the way that thermostats were made. Maybe we could make them more efficient and get them to more customers but it didn’t fundamentally change the design of a thermostat. However now with the internet of things were building in Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s going to be controlled by our smartphone anywhere around the world.
The internet of things is actually changing that what businesses are going to make. So I hope you’re convinced that the internet of things is going to have a major impact on business and our careers as well.
So as networking professionals what we need to think about?
Well, there are certainly lots and lots of implications and there are lots of light papers you could read on that. Just we’re going to touch on a few here in this article one of the big ones is security. Think about it, we’ve got all these devices around the world and they’re on the internet. That’s a little scary when you think about it in terms of security.
So we need to have good security. So somebody doesn’t come in and compromise. Maybe our home security system or something in our car. So security is going to be a big deal when it comes to the internet of things.
And another thing that we need to think about is infrastructure. We need to have an infrastructure in place. That’s going to support all these different applications. And one of the first things I think about when I think of the internet of things as well it’s good that we’ve got IP version six addressing now instead of IP version 4.
Because there certainly would not be near enough IP version 4 addresses to go around we were already out of IP version 4 addresses we certainly couldn’t start to assign those to our cars and our thermostats. But the great news is with ipv6 we’ve got plenty of IP addresses to go around.
However just because these IoT devices are running IP version 6 that doesn’t mean that they’ve got a full-blown gigabit network interface card in them. That can take up a lot of power that might take up more room inside of the device and the designer wants to give up.
So there are some different protocols that were starting to see with the internet of things and I just wanted to touch on a couple of them the first one is six slow w pan and that stands for IP version 6 over low-power wireless personal area networks.
This allows us to put IoT technologies in a very small form factor that take a relatively little power. They don’t have a lot of bandwidth but we don’t really need a lot of bandwidth maybe for some of the monitoring and the control functions that were doing so this is a protocol that you might run into six slow w pan. And there’s also a separate ipv6 routing protocol that we might see in a lot of our IoT devices. And it’s called RPL and that stands for a routing protocol for LLN and LLN there’s another acronym for us that stands for low-power and lossy networks.