What is an IoT anyway?
Everything your business needs to know about the Internet of Things.
by David Harris, Account Director at DSP
Liquid-based metaphors seem to have become the norm when discussing the topic of data. We’re all well used to discussing how data needs to flow in a steady stream; we recognise that demand peaks and troughs in waves; and of course, we know that all that data needs to reside somewhere like a lake (although pond or ocean may equally apply depending on your circumstances).
The above is all part of the de rigueur parlance that any IT professional uses on a daily basis, and it would hardly be a revelation if the conclusion of this blog was ‘it’s all about your data, stupid’!
However, to continue with the water theme, one feature that remains underappreciated is that there is a literal tsunami of data coming down the line towards us, all grouped together under the catch-all term of IoT.
What is the IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is not a new term, but much like other IT terms which have come before (think ‘cloud’ or ‘AI’) it’s not particularly helpful in its own right. You can’t go and buy ‘an IoT’ in the same way that you can’t buy ‘a cloud’ or ‘an AI’, which leads to the conclusion that IoT will mean different things to different businesses. So what is at the heart of the IoT?
How does it work?
IoT has been around almost as long as technology itself. In its most basic form, the concept of predictive maintenance is well understood and commonplace (if not ubiquitous) within certain industries.
Take the example of an escalator in a busy underground station: you can deploy sensors to monitor mechanical operating parameters, be they temperature, vibration, pressure, acceleration etc.
The next step in this scenario would be to deploy some kind of edge compute device to process the data from the sensors. In our scenario this is likely to be some variant of a rugged industrial grade PC. The edge device processes the data from the sensor and compares it against known nominal operating values.
Only in the event of a reading outside of nominal would the data - in this case lets say an abnormal temperature reading - be processed onwards to a central data repository and collated with the readings taken across the whole estate, so that some meaningful insight into the health of the escalator be derived. If appropriate, an alert may then be triggered for a pre-emptive maintenance check.
How is IoT relevant to your business?
This is all pretty straight forward so far. In fact, this process has become so commonplace that whole industries have already been transformed into as-a-service models much the same as the IaaS, PaaS or SaaS we’re so used to talking about in the IT market. Refrigeration-aaS for Supermarkets or Aircraft Engines-aaS, anyone?
The escalator example is of course a simple one, and the real challenge starts when you work out what IoT means to your business. What assets are you monitoring? What is the data you’re trying to collect and derive insight from? How many data sources do you have, and where are they all? Is it even possible to deploy an edge compute device, or will data need to be sent straight to the central repository? The answers to these and many more questions will stretch the traditional IT resources of any organisation to the limit.
This is where platforms such as Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub can help. IoT Hub provides a highly secure and reliable connection between your IoT application and assets you are managing. Azure Cosmos DB is Microsoft’s globally distributed noSQL database, perfect for the types of data you’ll likely be collecting from your IoT assets. Also, since everything is located in Azure, you have central management and scalability for literally billions of devices wherever they may be located in the world.
So, you’ve got your assets, you’re monitoring them, you’ve deployed Cosmos DB within Azure IoT Hub to account for the data tsunami... what comes next? Well, that’s where DSP come in.
DSP are home to highly certified database experts. Our Managed Service offerings can help you to operate, manage and maintain your environment, as well as providing expert advice on optimisation, data migration, reporting and a whole variety of other areas to suit your business objectives and derive real value from that critical asset - your data.
After all, it’s all about the data stupid!
Get in touch with DSP at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our services, or contact us via the form below.
by David Harris, Account Director at DSP