How Cloud Computing Can Help Power Your IoT Efforts?

Internet of Things (IoT) has become a necessity to shape a sustainable and reliable digital future. As more and more devices go online and connect our world in ways we never imagined, it is evident that IoT technology is going to be the next big battleground for many tech giants. Adding a level of digital intelligence to physical entities and enabling them to communicate in real-time, this smart tech has merged the digital and physical worlds impeccably. From farms to factories and smart cities to homes, IoT technology is all over the place with a continually expanding set of connected systems and devices.

According to Statista, the installed base of IoT devices is forecast to grow to almost 31 billion worldwide. Therefore, cloud computing will emerge as an increasingly dominant trend as the enormous amount of data generated by billions of connected IoT devices need to be stored for processing and retrieval. In fact, cloud computing acts as a powerful catalyst for the rapid expansion of IoT technology. For instance, let us imagine a utility company deploying smart meters for all of its customers across a metropolitan city. When these multitude of devices start sending out unstructured raw data to the servers all at once, then it would result in enormous server crash. Hence enterprises need reliable and fast cloud computing solutions to store, process and retrieve data from anywhere, anytime. Both the technologies - IoT and cloud computing are interconnected, with one providing the other a platform for success. This blog post discusses how cloud computing can help power your IoT efforts.

Easy deployment

According to Statista, discrete manufacturing, transportation & logistics and utilities industries are projected to spend $40B each on IoT platforms, systems, and services by 2020. Globally, B2C Commerce is projected to invest $25B in IoT systems, software, and platforms within two years. Healthcare and process industries are projected to invest $15 billion each in IoT. More and more business verticals are making significant investments in IoT platforms and projects. However, launching an IoT solution or platform won't be a walk in the park. Enterprises have to think about the basic infrastructure of building a IoT environment by installing sensors, establishing connection between devices and internet, evaluating the network speed, and more. Furthermore, it is essential to develop and launch a software solution to facilitate real-time communication and data processing. Integrating a cloud service would help organizations in resolving the technical issues related to IoT implementation.

Now there are a number of cloud service providers (CSPs) offering cloud platforms-as-a-service (PaaS) specifically dedicated to implementing and managing IoT projects and systems. Serving as the reliable gateway between the IoT devices and web application, a cloud platform helps organizations have complete control of remote devices out in the field. And this would help in improving the speed and efficiency of the development process, time to market and overall performance. With cloud IoT platforms, enterprises don’t have to stress about setting up the infrastructure or configuring networks. This would give them adequate time to focus on core development activities.

For instance, Microsoft Azure provides Azure IoT Hub to connect virtually any device. This cloud-hosted solution can be used for establishing a secure and scalable bi-directional communication channel with IoT devices. Whether it is about designing a simple PoC or developing a full-fledged IoT project, Azure IoT Hub can help businesses by analyzing and interpreting huge volumes of data. Some of the major features of Azure IoT Suite include easy device registry, dashboards and visualization, real-time streaming and more.

Scalability and security

As of the third quarter of 2019, there are over 4.33 billion active internet users across the world. Digital world is exploding as people, businesses and devices have become data factories pumping out massive amounts of data online. In fact, IoT and data statistics are staggering. According to the sixth edition of DOMO’s report,
“ Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day, and it’s only going to grow from there. By 2020, it’s estimated that 1.7MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth.”
The pace at which data is generated is only going to accelerate in the near future. As the IoT space is predicted to explode over the next few years, IT teams and businesses need to think about the processing, management and security of the data generated by IoT devices. With cloud computing platforms, enterprises can store, process, and access data efficiently.. The ability of a cloud service platform to scale up and down depending on the number of connected devices and incoming traffic serves as a crucial factor of successful IoT implementation.

Security is another major concern for an IoT ecosystem. And in the wake of a few high-profile security breaches in IoT sector such as VTech hack and Chrysler recalling 1.4 million Jeeps, The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Internet of Things (IoT) working group has published a report - “Future-proofing the Connected World: 13 Steps to Developing Secure IoT Products.” The report suggests some tactics to secure the IoT project, which include authentication, integrity protection, firmware and software update procedures, and encryption. Integrating a cloud based solution to your IoT project strategy helps in improving the overall security. For instance, Microsoft guarantees the best security and protection for all the data held on the Azure cloud. In addition to its standard security model of Detect, Assess, Diagnose, Stabilize and Close, the cloud platform also meets international industry specific standards such as ISO 27001 and HIPAA. What is more is that it is the first CSP to embrace the new international standard for cloud privacy - ISO 27018. Multi-level of protection, multiple compliance certifications, cyber security controls and threat mitigation practices of Microsoft Azure management ensures higher level of security within the cloud environment.

Edge computing

While cloud computing has made it possible to process massive amounts of data, it won’t be an ideal choice for all applications and use cases. Huge amounts of data being sent back and forth from the frontlines of sensors to servers clogs network bandwidth thereby slowing down response times. The answer to address all such limitations associated with traditional cloud computing infrastructure is something called “Edge computing”. Unlike traditional cloud architecture that follows a centralized process, Edge computing decentralizes most of the processes by pushing it out to the edge devices and closer to the end user. Since storage capacity and processing power are decentralized, it would provide precise results for IoT deployments. Making it easier to operate and manage IoT devices, edge computing ensures low-latency access, reduced bandwidth consumption, offline availability and local Machine learning (ML) inference.

Low latency and faster real-time analysis of edge computing have a number of applications across various sectors such as automotive, consumer electronics, energy, health care and more. Autonomous vehicles is a strong use case in point, where data needs to be collected from the surrounding environment and cloud to make decisions quickly and safely. Patterns in sensor data should be detected, stored and transferred quickly to aid real-time decisions at local nodes. Decentralized architecture of edge computing negates the latency in communication of critical data thereby ensuring safety.

Cloud enables seamless communication of IoT devices in real-time thereby facilitating quick decision-making and creating maximum business value. However, make sure to consider the current and future needs of your IoT application when deciding the cloud platform.

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