Although the true meaning of the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to provoke plenty of debate, there is no question the cloud is helping organizations across nearly every industry capitalize on an increasingly connected world. The business implications of this brave, new world of the IoT was the theme of last week’s Connected Cloud Summit in Boston.
The premise of the event was that we wouldn’t be talking about the Internet of Things if it weren’t for the more ubiquitous networks, economical storage and powerful Big Data analytics engines delivered by Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers. The IoT also wouldn’t be possible without the ability to more easily create applications to collate the information generated by IoT networks via Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS). And the Internet of Things wouldn’t be of value unless we could utilize a growing assortment of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions to instrument the rapidly expanding universe of connected “things,” and share the insights spawned by the IoT deployments.
The executive forum brought together a cross-section of major software vendors, key cloud companies, brand-name enterprises, relative startups and public institutions.
Executives from Oracle and HP described a new generation of software and systems that is creating a more robust IaaS layer for IoT. Their counterparts from Google and Salesforce.com talked about advancements in PaaS and SaaS that will make it easier to develop and deploy IoT initiatives.
Strategy Analytics, Axeda, Birst, CorSource Technology Group, Infobright and InfoBionic described the various ways organizations are capturing the rapidly growing reservoir of data generated by IoT to meet their escalating business needs. This Big Data opportunity and challenge was also the fundamental idea behind a new book published by Cognizant, called “Code Halos,” which was presented by one of the authors, Ben Pring.
Major enterprises like GE, Schneider Electric and the University of Massachusetts discussed why the world needs a more reliable and secure Industrial Internet to support the IoT. Their views were supported by companies like Echelon, Dyn and Code On Technologies, which are all developing technologies aimed at making the Industrial Internet a reality. Sophos and Prelert also talked about how to better secure the IoT.
The forum also served as a showcase for Boston-area IoT companies like Axeda, which was recently acquired by PTC (along with ThingWorx), MetraTech acquired by Ericsson, InfoBionic, Sine-Wave and Xively/LogMeIn.
THINKstrategies believes the IoT offers three levels of business benefits to organizations, which capitalize on today’s connected sensors and other things:
- Reduce the costs associated with product/service downtime
- Improve product/service quality and customer satisfaction
- Identify new business opportunities and revenue streams
These are the motivating factors for GE’s major thrust into the IoT world. It has also driven New England BioLabs to add IoT functionality to its biological research freezers to better track their usage levels and ensure they are properly stocked, utilizing a system developed by Xively/LogMeIn tied into Salesforce.com. The CEO of Engauge described at the Summit how IoT is enabling his traditional metering and instrumentation company to redefine its business based on the usage data it collects on a daily basis.
But the bottom line is that we are still at the early stages of understanding how to properly deploy and monetize the IoT. Executives from Aria Systems, Flexera Software, MetraTech, SafeNet, ServiceSource and Zuora discussed this fundamental challenge in a number of Summit sessions.
Although the IoT is still embryonic, the Connected Cloud Summit clearly showed that the market is evolving more rapidly than many people realize. And the accelerating growth of the IoT is propelled by the cloud.
Jeff Kaplan is the managing director of THINKstrategies, founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace and host of the Fourth Annual Cloud Channel Summit on December 3 in San Diego, Calif. He can be reached at email@example.com.