This post was published on Hortonworks.com before the merger with Cloudera. Some links, resources, or references may no longer be valid.
As our culture becomes more connected, the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) grows. Lots of hype has surrounded IoT in recent years, but now businesses and IT decision-makers must seriously consider the future of IoT and determine how the technology fits into their digital projects.
It’s hard to name a major sector that’s been untouched by IoT:
- Healthcare: Fitness and biometric devices that capture heart rate and other vital statistics
- Shipping: Cold chain sensors attached to shipments of food or medicine that must be maintained constant temperatures
- Insurance: Cars fitted with sensors that monitor the driving habits of drivers
- Government: Smart city initiatives that use sensors to monitor traffic congestion and adjust traffic light timing to compensate
- Utilities: Smart meters that track consumption and peak demand to minimize wasted energy and help consumers save money
- Manufacturing: Equipment sensors that track machine health and productivity to diagnose and predict maintenance issues before they occur
- Farming: Field sensors to monitor irrigation, fertilizer needs, and growth rates
These examples represent a handful of use cases, but the future of IoT is limitless. The promise of this technology is not just for enterprises with deep pockets and global reach. The importance of these connections will only increase and spread to businesses of all sizes.
The Requirements for Successful IoT Implementation
“IoT implementation is only as good as your ability to capture IoT data and then use that data to gain usable insights,” says Dinesh Chandrasekhar, director of product marketing at Hortonworks. “Only by doing that can your IoT implementation be judged as successful.”
These projects generate lots of data—that often arrives in high volumes at high speed: Imagine a connected car that generates four terabytes of data per day, then multiply that by a fleet of cars. That could easily create petabytes or even exabytes of data arriving at high velocity every day. Businesses that are serious about IoT projects need to create infrastructures that account for volume and velocity, with analysis tools to match that pace. Businesses also need to account for variety—meaning the various types of data that come in—and must assume that data sources will only multiply. And they will need infrastructures that are adaptable enough to absorb all data types, regardless of the format.
The Fourth and Fifth Challenges
Volume, velocity, and variety. Anyone who works with data knows the three V’s. However, as Chandrasekhar notes, “Security and governance are the fourth and fifth challenges you must address in any IoT data project.” Many businesses shy away from IoT projects because of the security challenges. With IoT, there are multiple points of possible compromise—at the edge, on the sensor itself, as data is in transit, as data is being analyzed, as data is stored, and so on. Seek out tools that address your IoT security challenges from end to end.
Governance relates to the quality and integrity of the data collected, as well as its auditability and traceability. Governance presents another significant challenge for any business implementing an IoT project. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other compliance demands bring this issue to the forefront. From which device did the data originate? What users interacted with it? How has the data changed along its path? Solutions such as Apache NiFi and Apache Atlas help businesses track their data lineage and attain complete data governance.
Let the Use Case Drive the Strategy
Yes, IoT is a hot topic today. Yes, the use of IoT is pervasive across countless business sectors. Yes, its pull is undeniable. But hype is not a strategy. “IoT is growing explosively. But like any new technology, you need to let the business use case drive your approach to implementing an IoT project,” says Chandrasekhar.
Success will be measured by how your IoT implementation meets the needs of the business. If your project is driving insights and keeping your data safe, and can track data provenance from edge to enerprise, then you’re probably on the right track.
To learn more about how to harness the value of IoT, address its most common challenges, and create your own strategy for an IoT deployment, download this white paper.