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5 Proof Points the Internet of Things Is Impacting IT in 2015

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Your wearable device tells you exactly how much sleep you got. You open the lock on your front door from an app on your smartphone. Farms are automatically watered based on rainfall data and weather conditions.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is here, and it’s helping healthcare providers, farmers, manufacturers, teachers, firefighters, police, transportation leaders and many more keep up with the world around them. The connected home is available now, and cities are on the horizon. Before we know it, we won’t be able to remember a time when our world wasn’t completely connected.

In the meantime, adoption of IoT technology in the enterprise continues to grow. This paper highlights recent research finding about the ways IoT is impacting enterprise IT and service providers today.

The Ups and Downs of IoT Technology

Just like a roller coaster, the IoT– the network of physical objects embedded with software and sensors that enables these objects to exchange data – is full of ups and downs. Gartner’s “Hype Cycle” methodology does a good job of charting the peaks and valleys of this kind of technology adoption.

“IoT is at the same point as big data was five years ago,” says Stefan Schneider, SevOne’s Product Marketing Manager. In a previous role, Schneider was director of consulting for a large independent software vendor that focused primarily on the IoT market.

Clearly, IoT has moved beyond the first step in the hype cycle – the technology trigger – a time when proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity, but few usable products exist.

Schneider feels IoT has transitioned into the second phase of the hype cycle – the peak of inflated expectations. This is the time when a few progressive and risk-taking companies take action, but many do not. If organizations are not yet engaged in IoT projects, they haven’t yet come up with an answer to “What benefit does connectivity offer to my application?”

Before IoT reaches mass adoption in the fifth and final step, it must go through some growing pains. After phase 2, it will drop from its highest point to the third step – the trough of disillusionment. During this time, experts say, interest in the technology wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver.

Next, IoT is expected to breach the fourth step – the slope of enlightenment. This is the final step before mainstream adoption starts to take off. During this time, experts expect to see a growing number of instances of how the technology benefits the enterprise. At this point, enterprises will fund IoT projects more and more, but conservative companies will remain cautious.

IoT Today

Machine to Machine (M2M) IoT – think Uber and Square transactions – is already a reality. However, the business side of IoT – smart cities, smart meters, and the like – needs to catch up. And according to Schneider, it will – and quickly.

While B2C and C2C IoT is not expected to see mainstream adoption for another year, enterprises are starting to hire IoT professionals, even though very few people in the space know yet how to translate the technology into tangible business benefits.

In fact, just more than a quarter of enterprises recently surveyed by SevOne said their IT teams are actively engaged in IoT projects. And for many, the only way to move forward is to begin deploying IoT projects. So, that’s exactly what some cutting edge organizations are doing.

In September, 2015, SevOne published a report on recent survey findings about the impact of IoT on enterprise IT and service provider organizations.

Of the 100 executives surveyed

  • 91 percent work for firms in the Fortune 1000, with revenues in excess of $1.5 billion.
  • Respondents were predominantly senior decision makers – 4 percent are CEOs; 16 percent are VPs; 77 percent are directors; 3 percent are managers.
  • Participants represent various industries – from financial services, business services and high tech manufacturing, to healthcare, mining and wholesale trade.

65 percent of respondents look forward to using IoT to achieve real-time visibility into conditions, but only 35 percent see it as a tool to gain customer insights.

Amazon Web Services (37 percent), Microsoft (34 percent), and Azure (34 percent) are supplying the IoT infrastructure to the surveyed firms. Additionally, firms are monitoring the performance of various IoT technologies, with 65 percent monitoring WiFi, 37 watching Bluetooth, and 31 percent monitoring Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).

Below are five proof points gathered from the survey data that reveal ways IoT is impacting these IT teams.

Proof Point 1

Most organizations have some level of interest in IoT sensors, applications and devices.

Survey participants responded favorably when asked about their interest in IoT, with 65 percent gauging their curiosity level between “somewhat interested” and “extremely interested.”

The other 35 percent of businesses, Schneider said, might not yet have an applicable use for IoT devices. And that’s fine.

“They don’t have a business need for connected devices. Or maybe they have a smartphone with a reader, but they don’t consider it IoT. Or they deploy an equipment team with smartphones and document scanners or tablets. They don’t yet see themselves as an IoT use case,” he said.

What is your current interest level in having IoT sensors, applications, and devices in your business environment?

What is your current interest level in having IoT sensors, applications, and devices in your business environment?

In the coming years, these companies that have not yet shown interest in IoT will be late adopters. Every company needs to evaluate what connected devices bring to their business.

Proof Point 2

More than a quarter of IT teams are now actively engaged in IoT projects.

Schneider said he was surprised that 26 percent of respondents said they are engaging in IoT projects. He said he expected engagement to be around 10 to 15 percent.

But it’s also important to note which organizations are participating in the projects. At this early phase of the hype cycle, risk-taking companies are much more willing to take a gamble on IoT, than conservative companies.

The organizations that represented the 26 percent who are engaged it IoT projects spanned a myriad of large industries – from well-known tech, communications and health enterprises, to universities, aircraft manufacturers, and a few big banks.

Do you have active IoT projects?

Do You Have Active IoT Projects?

And just as the industries that have decided to board the IoT train differ, so do the types of IoT projects they deploy. In April 2014, Computerworld reporter Robert L. Mitchell detailed how Boeing plans to enable IoT projects.

“As CIO at Boeing, Ted Colbert is no stranger to the Internet of Things. For more than a decade, the aerospace giant has deployed thousands of communications-enabled smart devices to sense, control and exchange data across the factory floor, on the battlefield, and within the company’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft.”

One executive that took part in SevOne’s 2015 IoT survey cited manufacturing floor automation as the company’s current IoT project.

“Efficiencies are required on the factory floor that can only be achieved by robotics,” said the executive. “It benefits the business, and therefore, by lowering overall manufacturing costs, the customer.”

He also emphasized that pursuing IoT projects is very important to his organization. “[We’ll see] significant long term economic benefits on the factory floor, as well as using RFID tags in the supply chain area,” he said.

In August 2015, Fortune reporter Stacey Higginbotham reported on a $3 billion IoT deployment announcement from Intel in, saying, “Like everyone else, Intel is betting on the Internet of things to boost its marketing mojo.”

In the article, he discussed how Intel plans to move away from just focusing on helping businesses gather data from their existing sensors. “Still, until now, the emphasis at Intel has been squarely on corporate uses and the influx of data that the IoT generates,” he wrote. “The company doesn’t just want to talk about the boring black computing boxes it sells to enterprise customers, but also the sexy side of its technology used, at least in theory, by people who like to tinker at home, BMX bikers doing tricks and anything else that gets the media excited.”

Proof Point 3

More than two thirds of businesses said they are worried about the amount of data IoT applications and services will generate.

Back to Computerworld reporter Robert Mitchell, who wrote that Boeing’s CIO Ted Colbert, too, is worried about data collection.

“Even seasoned veterans like Colbert are bracing for an onslaught,” says Mitchell. “What’s different now is the accessibility of many different types of data, the speed at which the data can be gathered, and the tools a business can use to get its arms around that data. The pace of development of sensors is moving much faster than folks can keep up with.”

When asked about the data generation aspects of IoT, 67 percent of survey participants said they were concerned.

It may seem like when you’re transmitting IoT data from point A to point B, there’s no need for concern. You just need to plan for it in terms of bandwidth and data storage. However, even though the individual data transmissions may be as small as 1 Kbps, when you consider the frequency, randomness, and aggregate of all transmissions, it’s easy to see why many are apprehensive.

Businesses worry about sending data every minute and wonder how the backend structure can scale and how to treat and process the data. Remember, the data exchanged per individual IoT instance is relatively small, ranging from 1 to 100 Kbps. But it is constant. The sheer volume of hundreds of “small connections” per second can give the IT department much more to be concerned about.

With so many connected devices, the aggregate data increase will place significant pressure on the network. In the past, many organizations have side-stepped scalability challenges by choosing to monitor “only the important” parts of the network, concentrating on the central parts of the network and ignoring the edge.

However, with the profusion of IoT, and the criticality of the data it creates, this is no longer an option. If the IT performance monitoring platform can’t intuitively and cost-effectively scale with the increase in data, the organization risks creating a dangerous visibility gap.

The sensible approach is to build upon a performance monitoring platform engineered for speed at scale. That means abandoning products built around a centralized database architecture that will eventually fold under the weight of massive data and leave you with a product that fails to provide near real-time information about the health of your infrastructure and IoT service delivery.

Instead, consider a monitoring platform based on a distributed computing model. By keeping your performance data distributed across your network, you’re better equipped to handle the challenge of massive data generated by the IoT.

Proof Point 4

Nearly two thirds of businesses said IoT deployments pose a security risk.

With a large number of devices that you may or may not manage, you have limited visibility into how they are communicating and you open your business up to risk, breeches, capacity and performance issues – and liability.

Businesses want to make sure no one is able to access the service without authorization. The last thing they want is for unauthorized devices or people to dive into business-rich data.

It’s crucial to secure the backend, since business sensitive information is likely being stored and accessed from the cloud. But businesses may also consider storing less business-critical data in a secure area. An outsider who accesses your energy records – a seemingly harmless data set – could easily deduce when you are home and when you are not.

Eliminating that visibility gap is critical. It’s not just about whether your infrastructure is performing well, it’s about whether it’s secure and uncompromised, too.

Making sure your Internet-connected devices are working effectively involves a lot of proactive monitoring. These devices are not permanently connected and their properties can change at any time.

So, you must go deeper. You’ll want to look at every layer of the service to understand what’s going on. Utilizing performance monitoring can help by allowing you to apply a healthy dose of analytics to find out what’s normal and what’s not.

Regarding your network and IT infrastructure, which of the following concern you about IoT?

Breakdown of IoT Concerns

Proof Point 5

More than half of the businesses don’t know who will be responsible for ensuring the quality of IoT applications

Although 33 percent of respondents reported that their firms have assigned service assurance of IoT to their network team – and another 31 percent to their Operations team – 53 percent have not even determined who will be responsible for IoT quality.

Many organizations are deploying IoT projects for things like environmental control, power, light, facilities management, employee security and inventory tracking, just to name a few. However, for many banks, trading firms and the like, there may not yet be a use case for IoT in the workplace.

But just because you don’t call and app “IoT” doesn’t mean you don’t have bits and pieces of connected devices. Most likely there are already people in your organization that indirectly deploy IoT solutions for connected devices.

Remember, IoT is only at the second stage of the hype cycle, so there’s still a long way to go before it reaches widespread adoption. Leaders will figure out whom to give IoT projects to first, and later waves of adopters will follow suit.

Which team(s) are or will be responsible for service assurance of IoT deployments in your organization?

Service Assurance - IoT Deployment

Conclusion

No matter how you look at it, the numbers associated with IoT are monstrous. For instance, many analysts conservatively anticipate that the number of connected devices, including non-hub devices such as sensor nodes and accessories, will more than double from 2015 to 2020. Gartner predicts an even bigger leap in IoT connected devices. The technology research and advisory company estimates that the number of devices will quintuple from 4.9 billion devices in 2015 to 25 billion devices by 2020.

In addition to the challenge posed by the volume of data these devices generate and the additional load on the digital infrastructure, network and IT teams will also have to monitor the performance of the devices themselves.

This will force them to abandon traditional – and less secure – protocols such as SNMP in favor of monitoring JSON or AMQP metrics. When gathering performance metrics from IoT devices, organizations need to look for a monitoring solution that takes a data agnostic approach to collection.

To learn more, download SevOne’s whitepaper on How the IoT will Impact Your Performance Monitoring Strategy.