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The Internet of Things Begets the Industrial Internet

All the data generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) will make Big Data even bigger. Cisco is predicting that there will be 50 billion devices on the Internet by 2020.

IBM has reported that 20 quintillion (one thousand million million) bytes of data traverse the Internet every day. Waiting for Big Data problems to surface, then reacting, will probably be too late. Enterprises have to start planning now for the deluge of data that is coming.

The Internet of Things
The goal of IoT is to provide connections and enable communications among devices and physical objects. IoT data will include sensors, smartphones, and many other forms of automated data collection devices.

Cisco's variation on the term IoT is the "Internet of Everything" (IoE).The goal of IoE is to include human-generated information, such as social media data, to augment the IoT data.

Combining both IoT and IoE together has fostered the term Web of Things (WoT). WoT also produces Big Data--voluminous in scale and produced continuously. It is the dynamic generation of data from a huge range of resources. It is also volatile, meaning that as it ages, its value may diminish. Big Data needs to be collected in a timely manner and processed rapidly.

The Industrial Internet Defined One of the outcomes of IoT is the evolution of the industrial Internet. The industrial Internet is an overlay on the existing Internet--not a new parallel network. It stands above the individual devices, enabling the remote control of a system, rather than just the devices. The industrial Internet can be used to optimize a system's operation to produce greater efficiency. It can be used to generate new revenue (see my blog The Internet of Things Will Change Your Business Model).

The industrial Internet is about systems and devices, although the devices may be sensing and reporting on humans. The data, however, will be machine-produced. A major benefit of the industrial Internet is the easy deployment of sensors that measure and report on the health and operation of machines. Another benefit is to capture data that was not available before connecting to the Internet.

Not the Consumer IoT
The industrial Internet will require tougher capabilities than are found in the existing Internet. Unlike the World Wide Web, humans will not be involved in the sensing, collection, and distribution of data on the industrial Internet. In addition, communications on the industrial Internet will have to be capable of working in harsh environments (outdoors, extreme temperatures, humidity, etc.), necessitating high reliability, strong security and dependable control.

Device life on the industrial Internet needs to be measured in years--possibly 10 to 30 years--much longer than what humans expect, with their devices changing every year or two. Many of the industrial Internet devices will be internal to systems, so that human access is only available to technicians, not average users.

What This Means for Enterprises
The enterprise will have to modify its infrastructure and operation to support IoT. It will not be business as usual.

• There will be new traffic patterns. Some of the traffic will be produced on a periodic schedule, possibly as frequently as every second.
• The new traffic, in most cases, will be continuous over 24 hours.
• Many of the sensors will be sending short messages, which will create a greater burden on the throughput of routers. That's because long messages are more conducive to router efficiency than are short messages.
• Bandwidth will have to be increased to meet the new traffic demands.
• There will probably be an increase in UDP packets to carry the short messages.
• If UDP is used, then the applications will have to perform message acknowledgement since UDP does not verify message delivery.
• IT will have to become knowledgeable about new endpoints.
• Some of the sensors will require QoS transmission competing with voice and possibly video transmissions.
• The existing IP traffic has to be handled with the same performance once all the new traffic is added.

The industrial Internet is more than a new set of applications. Its support will require a detailed review of all of IT and communications from the transmission media to the applications.

For more on this topic, I recommend you read the latest IEEE Computing Now publication, whose theme for the current issue is "The Web of Things". This issue is well worth reading. There are several articles covering a range of topics relating to IoT, IoE, and WoT.

My recent blogs on big data and IoT include Big Data: A Tool, Not an Answer, Enterprise Social Networks and Big Data, and Mobile Internet of Things: An Explosion Soon, which help round out my views.