Megatrends: The Internet of Things

Jim Millen
By , - Innovation

Connecting masses of intelligent devices together will create a new, smart environment changing the way we live and work.

An age of mass-connectivity is dawning and when the sun rises, the future is poised to be dazzling.

All of this is occurring on the back of a system originally designed to provide data communications on behalf of users. This is a system that’s now morphing into a network where the principal traffic is between machines.

Our new technological infrastructure is talking to itself – about us.

Just 12 years ago there were fewer than a billion devices connected to the internet, and even fewer people with connections. Today there are around 9bn devices and 3bn people plugged in and sharing data. This is just the beginning. These numbers are estimated to climb to as many as 50bn devices and 6bn people by 2020 – seven times as many devices as people.

This ‘hyperconnected’ world has been dubbed the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). As computing and communications power continue to grow, prices continue to drop.

Connected sensors are appearing in mobile phones, tablets, vehicles and homes. They are creating quiet revolutions in agriculture, insurance, and healthcare. They are even appearing on tailored skins that can be wrapped around a human heart.

The environment is evolving around us

Our environment is fast becoming an informed, actionable infrastructure, which can host a potentially limitless variety of applications.

We believe the IoT offers the opportunity to reimagine human lives, society and business structures. IoT enables greater control of the systems we rely on while creating a foundation for entirely new kinds of services.

Today’s IoT exists in two forms: an all-embracing but abstract vision, and a disjointed collection of pilot and demonstrator projects. At Fujitsu our view is the IT industry has a collective responsibility to realise the vision in its complete form – an IoT that is open, scalable, interoperable, transferable and transformable.

A fragmented landscape of networks and devices that can only cooperate in proprietary groups will prove slow and wasteful.

To realise its full potential, industry, commerce, and government must collaborate to create the technical standards and governance that will enable the IoT to blossom.

If we come together to create the necessary frameworks, we can lay the foundations for a more prosperous, inclusive and intelligent world. It will enable us to solve problems in unique and previously unimaginable ways, while also creating opportunities we can’t even envisage right now.

However, the traditional models of the telco and Managed Service Provider (MSP) supply chain are not geared towards delivering a network of such a magnitude.

To deliver on the promise of IoT, only an ecosystem of suppliers with a service integration overlay can meet the projected demand.

Building a secure intelligent environment we can all trust

Billions of devices that will be capturing, processing, or exchanging huge amounts of data, often personal, brings unprecedented changes in both the nature and scale of threat profiles.

Security mechanisms such as firewalls will still be needed, but these established capabilities will need to be built upon with new approaches based on tight integration between competing products.

Standards in this area will solve some of the issues, but Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) will have a key role to play.

At Fujitsu, we have already developed these features for platforms used by our defence clients. These event triggers can isolate network components and operations such as automatic port enablement/disablement, providing just-in-time security.

Intelligently embracing the opportunity

IoT is both an opportunity and a threat to businesses. The possibilities are dazzling – but there are traps for the unwary. Neglecting the needs of security, network management and integration will lead to wasted investments and lost ground.

Although some players may try to take a lead by using proprietary standards or privileged services, they are likely to lose out to vendors who take a longer-term view and will be building for the future.

It is worth remembering the IoT has naturally occurred and, much like the internet itself, has no set owner. In other words: The IoT is for everyone and we’re all in this together. The way ahead involves a judicious and dynamic balancing of collaboration and competition.

After all, both elements are required to ensure a viable, cost effective and high quality Internet of Things. At Fujitsu we’re delighted to be contributing some of the most promising technologies and deploying our strong heritage in transformation to make the IoT a reality that can change the way we live and work for the better.

This blog is based on a White Paper by Fujitsu Distinguished Engineer Iain Groves – read more on our website.

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Jim Millen

Jim Millen

Digital Content Editor at Fujitsu
I'm the editor for the Fujitsu UK & Ireland blog, and love to write about the exciting work Fujitsu do in digital & technology innovation.

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Jim Millen

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