Rebirth of IT Infrastructure for “IoT”


Entire world is overwhelmed by the IoT tinkle,.. which is the new mantra of not just companies, but also triggering thoughts and excitement in common people who understand technology.

Yes, indeed IoT is thrilling as it assures to make our lives much better by connecting everything sensibly, at the same time giving us a firm control of the environment. IoT can transform nearly every industry and is a key enabler of digital transformation.

While most of the companies are still thinking, talking, planning about IoT, few enthusiasts have already gone ahead to connect 9 billion devices globally (says Frost & Sullivan), and the same figure is set to raise beyond 30 Billion by 2020 (says IDC).

“In 2025, IoT is expected to create between $4 trillion to $11 trillion in economic benefits globally”

- Frost & Sullivan.

IoT concept as a whole thrills everybody when seen only from the good side of it, but as any other solution even it has significant risks, which when neglected, leads to disasters. E.g. One of the European manufacturing industries implemented IoT solution to control furnace temperature. Unexpectedly, one of its temperature sensing devices failed and was unnoticed. This caused part of the plant to overheat and cause huge fire. This is a just an example, but when searched for IoT failures, we find many such cases. Majority of such failure’s are occurring due to the improper design of IoT solution’s backbone i.e Infrastructure. Hence, this mandates to know the infrastructure’s significance and imbibe its best practices in shaping the future of IoT solutions.

At present, major focus is on generating ideas and an urge to convert that into a prototype, with very few things connected and executed successfully. Not much importance is given to infrastructure during Proof-of-Concepts (POC)s or Pilots, but when taken into production environment with millions of devices connected the same legacy infrastructure succumbs.

“No single architecture can address all the potential IoT device areas and the requirements of each. But a scalable architecture that can add or subtract resources to support a wide variety of scenarios can prepare service providers for the impact the IoT will have.”

- Gartner, webinar 2862818

Reasons being single point of failures, storage bursts, bandwidth issues, security breaches, non-scalability, non-standardized communication channels, network failures, etc. are few issues with traditional infrastructure. Hence, there is an urge to have an intelligent and transformed infrastructure to handle massive traffic growth with carefully designed base infra, right from Devices, Middleware, Networks, Security and Datacenter. Thus, the rebirth of “IT Infrastructure”, and we call it The “IoT Infrastructure”.

So what makes IoT Infrastructure?

An intelligently networked and securely designed, ‘Sensing, Compute and Storage Infrastructure’ coupled with proactive monitoring techniques makes the IoT infrastructure robust and flexible for IoT solutions.

Figure 001: IoT Infrastructure Architecture

Sensing Infrastructure

This infrastructure includes the sensing and communicating devices viz.. Sensors, RFIDs, Beacons, Gateways, Controllers etc. Sensor-Cloud, is one of the major concepts which I would like to highlight under this area.

Computing Infrastructure

This provides the necessary scalable compute power for the solution and manages the dynamic load from millions of sensors. On premises Datacenters, Cloud Datacenters, Hybrid Datacenters ( Cloud + On Premises) are part of this infrastructure. Based on the use cases and customer requirements, a suitable model is proposed. It is advisable to seek an expert guidance to choose the right model.

Amazon and Azure are leading the public cloud market, offering IoT solution fueling features over their clouds. Nevertheless, due to data privacy challenges many IoT leaders like Bosch are developing their own IoT cloud datacenters for their customers e.g Bosch IoT Cloud Services (BICS).

Storage Infrastructure

Bursting storage sizes caused by data floods from millions of dynamic sensors is the biggest concern in IoT infra. Automatically scalable storages proportional to the increase in number of sensors is the need-of-the-hour. To support this, traditional storage has been transformed into what is called as Software Defined Storage (SDS). According to SNIA “SDS is a virtualized storage with a service management interface. SDS includes pools of storage with data service characteristics that may be applied to meet the requirements, specified through the service management interface”. In simple terms, SDS enables the administrators to juggle with diverse storage pools of different types through software, thus enabling efficient storage for IoT Solutions. EMC, HP, DELL, NetApp etc., are few leading SDS providers in the market.

Network and Security

Traditional best practices for both network and security have to be re-looked due to the complexity created by IoT. I would like to highlight on Storage Defined Network (SDN), Network Operations Center (NOC) and Security Operations Center (SOC) which are very vital to tackle the nightmare that IoT is creating for the network and security service providers.

“The Internet of Things is going to be a major driver for SDN. If you just have a lot of things, then the most important inhibitor is complexity. The only material that we have to combat an increasing complexity in IT systems is software. There won’t be an Internet of Things without software-defined networks.”

- Stu Bailey, founder and CTO, Infoblox

Mr. Dhananjay Y.C

Sr. Consultant

IoT Infra and Consulting

Certified IoT Professional