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Finding the Right Balance of Data and IoT

By Rick Scurfield, President, NetApp APAC

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Rick Scurfield, President, NetApp APAC

It should come as no surprise that, thanks to the boom in connected devices, every industry is experiencing game-changing innovations. However, where one of the unique opportunities lies in maximizing these revolutionizing innovations is in continually seeking new ways to leverage the insights connected devices provide in order to better understand your customers and deliver new experiences.

Even traditional businesses are using internet connectivity and smartphone applications to reinvent their customer offering. For instance, the basic light bulb, which is perceived to be a commodity, has now become part of a smart system. For example, companies like Philips have changed the way we think of home lighting and reimagined a 137 year old technology to keep homes safer, help people relax and even respond to changes in weather patterns.

Today, CIOs face the daunting task of making sense of the various sets of data coming from multiple sensors – and most importantly, organizing this data to make it even more valuable. Advanced data management and organization is essential to effectively integrate and use the flood of data that will come from the Internet of Things (IoT). However, given the scale and scope of this data, CIOs need the right balance of data and technologies to set the perfect data environment for ground-breaking innovations.

Unlocking the potential of data

Each business has access to an untapped source of data that could release a wealth of information on its customers and the challenges they face everyday. However, the objective is not to capture as much data possible –but it should really be about how to make sense of the vast amounts of new data that connected ‘things’ are generating.

To help put this into context, a well-known car company created an additional 4.5 petabytes from its driverless car program in just a few months– a third of the entire amount of data accumulated over 20years!

If IoT was a High Performance Car

In keeping with the above example, let’s explore how you can access and analyze data effectively, with the right performance and cost. An engine’s specifications, car body, tires and even the fuel all individually contribute and combine to enhance a performance car’s form and function. Similarly, there are core components that are critical to producing a powerful and efficient IoT ‘vehicle’.

1. Solutions & partnerships

Your IT service provider should present a fully integrated and complete ‘body’ designed with the right partners and solutions in place that are able to address common problems or needs in an efficient and functional manner. The partners should be able to capture data from any type of device and deliver real-time insights and analytics while providing the compute platform and cloud infrastructure to deploy these big data solutions.

2. Standard APIs

Tires play an integral role in ensuring the optimal power transfer to the road surface and maintaining traction. Similarly, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) help unlock data from legacy systems without manual intervention or having to “reinvent the wheel” in a metaphorical sense by writing a special code to do so. Existing and standard APIs which are readily available will help developers to easily provide trapped data to an enterprise or mobile application. Thus, it is very important to ensure there is a focus on API support to maintain your IoT’s long-term viability. 

3. Data platforms and data lakes

Core to the IoT ‘engine,’ are the specifications of how your raw data should be stored and analyzed. Data lakes use a flat architecture to store vast amounts of raw data, precisely the type of requirement that will be common in the IoT. Data lakes have become popular with big data technologies, like Hadoop that adapts and scales very easily for very large volumes and can handle any structure.

To enable tools like Hadoop to analyze the data, a data platform layer is designed to provide an enhanced and unified approach to data integration and data management – introducing Platform as a Service (PaaS) for IoT! The platform is made up of individual components which handle compute, object store, networking, orchestration and other functions. These components are designed to support massive scale-out and produce the necessary power output for the engine.

4. A data fabric

A data fabric is the efficient and economic fuel, seamlessly driving the various components of an IoT performance vehicle. It provides a consistent interface that makes it easy to provide IoT data to specific workloads or applications. The need for this type of solution is magnified when the huge amount of data from IoT starts to become part of an organization’s overall solution delivery.

Every part plays a critical role in enabling your business to use IoT data and provide IT with strategic infrastructure that is not prohibitively expense or too limited to support huge incoming data flows. With the right balance of data and IoT, your ‘performance car’ can be customized to your liking and ensure you continue to meet your IT expectations, well into the future.

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