The exponential growth in computing devices and data brought about by the Internet economy, the consumerization of IT, and the emerging “Internet of Things” is placing new requirements and burdens on the data center in terms of being able to collect, manage and interpret this information to support effective business decision-making. Existing information infrastructures are not equipped for the volume, velocity or variety of this information.
As objects become embedded with sensors and gain the ability to communicate, the new information networks promise to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks.
The physical world itself is becoming a type of information system. In what’s called the Internet of Things, sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects from roadways to pacemakers, re linked through wired and wireless networks, often using the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet. These networks churn out huge volumes of data that flow to computers for analysis. When objects can both sense the environment and communicate, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it swiftly. What’s revolutionary in all this is that these physical information systems are now beginning to be deployed, and some of them even work largely without human intervention.
The widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) will take time, but the time line is advancing thanks to improvements in underlying technologies. Advances in wireless networking technology and the greater standardization of communications protocols make it possible to collect data from these sensors almost anywhere at any time. Ever-smaller silicon chips for this purpose are gaining new capabilities, while costs, following the pattern of Moore’s Law, are falling. Massive increases in storage and computing power, some of it available via cloud computing, make number crunching possible at very large scale and at declining cost.
Making data the basis for automation and control means converting the data and analysis collected through the Internet of Things into instructions that feed back through the network to actuators that in turn modify processes. Closing the loop from data to automated applications can raise productivity, as systems that adjust automatically to complex situations make many human interventions unnecessary. Early adopters are ushering in relatively basic applications that provide a fairly immediate payoff. Advanced automated systems will be adopted by organizations as these technologies develop further.