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Summary:

To handle the addition of billions more devices — including sensors that talk to each other, not necessarily to us — how must our infrastructure evolve? That’s a big topic on tap for Structure 2014.

Internet of things, globe, fiber optics
photo: asharkyu

Infrastructure is something that people are used to not thinking about. It is normally associated with roads, water, electricity, and telecommunications. Things it takes for a society to function. People just want infrastructure to work when they need it. When roads are being repaired, when the waterline breaks, when the power is out, and the Internet is down — that’s when people pay attention to infrastructure. Most would assume that the Infrastructure for IoT should be the same just like the rest of information technology (IT).

In IT, search, email, finance, social networks are the infrastructure for being connected. When people talk about infrastructure for IT they think of security, availability, scalability, and reliability, as the key capabilities to focus on. Whenever there is a security breach or services go down, teams scramble to remedy the situation. The internet of things is being driven by many of the same technology companies that users are familiar with. Running a Google Search for “IoT” the top three paid advertisers are Microsoft, Cisco, and Intel.

Building IoT Infrastructure the same as other IT Infrastructure

If you take a traditional approach, the IoT is the same infrastructure approach for IT but scaled to work with billions and billions of IoT devices. Servers, network, storage are now at a scale to allow billions of devices to be connected to cloud services. Along with this scale comes millions of failure events, which could be a degradation of device performance or outright failure. One view is users will get another device run setup based on the new device, connect a replacement IoT device, and the old one disappears. Another view is we have the history of your IoT device, we can help you repair it, replace it, or upgrade it. The damaged IoT device is part of a bigger experience and a device failure is an opportunity to build a new and better experience.

Tamar Budec, VP of portfolio operations at Digital Realty

Tamar Budec, VP of portfolio operations at Digital Realty

Some of you may still think I just want to build highly available, secure, and scalable Infrastructure for IoT, that users will expect it to be no different than their existing IT services. But, I would argue, that we need ore than that. we need IoT infrastructure that does more than compete on availability, security, and scalability. We need infrastructure that provides a sort of institutional memory of what you’ve done with your devices. Where do you think the money is in the infrastructure of IoT? A low-cost infrastructure that quickly gets commoditized or a value added service for the Infrastructure of IoT users will stick with?

IoT infrastructure is now at the beginning of a massive build out — sort of like the first building phase of the internet or the interstate highway systems. And this is a topic Iwill discuss with a panel of top infrastructure experts — Tamar Budec, VP of portfolio operations at Digital Realty,  Cory von Wallenstein, chief technologist at Dyn,  and Peter Bakas, founder of DataScale (who was formerly director of platform engineering and operations at Ooyala)  on stage at Structure on June 19.

Cory von Wallenstein, chief technologist for Dyn

Cory von Wallenstein, chief technologist for Dyn

Creating value in the infrastructure of IoT is like the Netflix experience where the history of your complete video watching experience is stored at Netfliz. It keeps track of use, start/stop, favorites, new things you may be interested in – your history and settings. Your devices – TV, streaming device, or mobile come and go – but your Netflix experience continues. Why can’t there be a complete history of the specific IoT device use by a person that allows the replacement, repair, or upgrade so the experience is continuous and gets better with each new IoT devices? Users upgrade their smartphones and expect all their content, contacts, apps to move to the new device. The Infrastructure for IoT should do the same. Some may think this is not what infrastructure should do. But are you planning on being an overhead cost or a service that drives revenue and value to end-users?

Dave Ohara is a Gigaom Research analyst focusing on data center, big data, software development and related areas.

Feature art courtesy of  Shutterstock user asharkyu

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  1. Infrastructure is important, no denying that. But it would be nice to be able to go off the grid every now and then (especially in an ice storm). Then too, what do we do with solar flares?
    Leslie

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