When we talk about the Internet, we tend to have in mind the consumer Internet, the Internet that we all use every day and that is the foundation of modern communication, publishing, and eCommerce. When we talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), which is really just the Internet extended beyond traditional computing devices, we think about Nest, and Philips Hue, and the other sensor-laden, Internet-connected devices that are likely to find their way into our lives in the coming year.
But we don’t often think about what GE has referred to as the Industrial Internet of things (IIoT). The Industrial Internet can be thought of as IoT for industry, and it’s likely to be a major driver of wider adoption of IoT techniques and technology, and of course, that means it’ll be a major driver of cloud adoption because the IoT and big data depend crucially on the cloud.
Industrial Internet To Drive Economic Expansion
According to a recent report from Accenture, the Industrial IoT has the potential to add $14.2 trillion to the world economy over the next decade and a half. The scope of the potential innovations and improvements to business operations are stunning. Already today’s companies are using connected sensor devices to monitor equipment, allowing them to reduce downtime and maintenance by using the accrued data to predict maintenance requirements and equipment replacement schedules.
By making ordinarily dumb devices “smart” with sensors and Internet connectivity, companies can build up a picture of their world with much greater fidelity than ever before, allowing them to create efficiencies that would previously been impossible and to automate, rationalize, and streamline workflows.
Cloud Platforms Are The Only Solution To The IIoT Data Deluge
While smart devices are obviously an essential component of the Industrial Internet, they’re a means to an end, and that end is data: more data, better data, delivered and analysed more quickly. Traditional computing platforms don’t cut it when it comes to efficiently dealing with the massively increased volume and velocity of data that the IIoT will generate, which is why the IoT is tightly coupled with cloud platforms, which offer the elasticity and efficient pricing models that a new data world needs.
The key to understanding why the cloud and the industrial internet are closely intertwined is the realization that most data generated by smart devices is ephemeral: it needs to be briefly stored for filtering and analysis, but the end result is information many times smaller than the initial input, which is of little value once it’s been processed. To efficiently handle ephemeral data of varying volumes, storage has to be inherently elastic, scaling to meet the real time needs of the system. The alternative would be maintaining storage and compute infrastructure that can handle the largest possible volumes, which would lead to substantial cost and complexity increases.
The Industrial Internet of Things has the potential to be transformative in many industries: the cloud and integration layers that tie together cloud components from many vendors in many locations are the platforms on which the IIoT will be built.