The Internet of things (IoT) has been threatening to arrive for some time now. The concept isn’t new. Karl Steinbuch, a German computer science pioneer, said as far back as 1966: “In a few decades time, computers will be interwoven into almost every industrial product“.
Now we are seeing the first few glimpses into a future ruled by our devices. There is no longer any doubt that IoT will completely overhaul the technological landscape. However, in spite of all its promise, IoT still has to overcome unique challenges to take off.
IoT is poised to bring about a radical change in the way we handle and communicate with our devices. According to Brendan O’Brien: “If you think that the Internet has changed your life, think again. The IoT is about to change it all over again!”.
IoT is a natural evolution of the Internet. The Internet enabled computers to talk to each other, as well as other remote applications. IoT aims to bring everyday devices into the loop, allowing them to communicate with other devices and applications. This includes anything from coffee machines to airplanes.
Latency and Capacity are IoT Challenges
IoT does face some unique challenges. The current Internet infrastructure was not designed with IoT in mind. The very nature of data communications over the Internet does not lend itself to the split second communications needed in IoT.
We expect our devices to respond instantaneously to commands. On the network, responses are delayed because of the inherent latency delay. This delay is encountered because of the time it takes data packets to travel over a network.
Distance is not the only factor that gives rise to network latency. The network also suffers from frequent congestion in network pipes and routers. This leads to network latency or delay in data packets travelling over the Internet.
Latency is especially important when it comes to smart health tracking devices, which require real time monitoring.
The number of IoT devices is forecasted to cross 50 billion by 2020. What happens when these devices come online? The capacity of the Internet is not unlimited, and there is only so much bandwidth. The addition of all these new IoT devices will add more network end points, resulting in a significant increase in IP traffic.
The Internet of Things will cause IP traffic to skyrocket 300% by 2018.
Whether network capacity will be able to keep pace with this development is still to be seen. In Britain, optical cables and switches are set to reach their capacity to carry data by the end of the decade.
Looking to the Future
So how do you overcome these challenges. Most recommendations revolve around moving data storage and processing to the network edge. This potentially reduces the distance that data has to travel over a network. However, it does mean an increased number of edge devices, and a corresponding increase in costs.
An alternative way of dealing with these challenges is to redesign current network routing, and take advantage of the capacity that is already there. Latency can be reduced 60% by redesigning network routing protocols to avoid congestion and traffic bottlenecks. Additionally, smart Internet routing can optimize bandwidth freeing up more space for IP traffic.
To learn more, download the AWS Network Optimization Whitepaper.