Take Five With Tom Fenton

The Internet of Things and Beyond: 5 Things We’ll Be Tracking for a Better Tomorrow

What the Internet of Things offers is this huge opportunity to build intelligent applications that can actively optimize and direct just about any system that is dynamically programmable. Here are the five types of things that are soon likely to be “sensorized” in your IT shop.

With the incredible rise in the number of mobile devices we can also see the advent of the Internet Of Things. Every device, mobile or otherwise, that has some ability to generate an interesting stream of data is getting "sensorized" and connected. The resulting streams of big data provide a wild new frontier for intelligence mining. We at Taneja Group see this trend opening up huge opportunities to build intelligent applications that can actively optimize and direct just about any system that is dynamically programmable.

Creating intelligent feedback and control loops has always been an engineering goal, whether it's controlling home automation, a fleet of airplane engines, or your next IT "software-defined" data center. It all starts with getting all the devices that have a story to tell to stream back their location, connectivity, performance, capacity, health, usage, errors, and configurations dynamically.  Now, some food for thought: Here are the five types of things that are soon likely to be "sensorized" in your IT shop.

TAKE 1 - User computing devices
Laptops, tablets, and smart phones already generate large streams of interesting data, but printers, monitors, desktops, spare batteries, and even peripherals (e.g. do know where all your USB sticks are right now?) could get detailed sensors. Maybe even the break room coffee machine.

TAKE 2 - Each infrastructure box or "appliance"
We get reams of data from the logical "application" side of systems today, but knowing where the physical boxes are racked or stacked, how each is experiencing temperature, getting jostled or vibrated, and using power will all get correlated with how each is delivering on its performance, capacity, and resiliency service requirements.

TAKE 3 - Cards, modules, and components
Even components like disk drives, HBA cards, or any "replaceable unit" might get actively tracked. There will be interesting analysis like ensuring the right matches of firmware, the failure/replacement rates by usage/location/manufacturer (and also correlations to things like locally detected vibration and temperature swings) just to start off.

TAKE 4 - Facilities, equipment, and cable
We believe there will be a growing confluence of facilities management and IT systems management, with lots of opportunities to manage the whole data center more holistically. We'll soon see sensors generating more dynamic and specific data from equipment like power distribution circuitry, cooling and fire suppression systems, lighting and security, diagnostic tools (like OTDRs), racks, shelves, and even cables. 

TAKE 5 - You
Where are you? How are you feeling today? Have you had lunch? A tracking bracelet or badge can show where you've been and the routes you took, as well as who you are working well with and just how overworked you are. Contraptions like Google Glass suggest other possibilities like projecting location-derived heads-up diagrams on how to find and fix things or assist with "remote" collaboration.

All of that new data will be analyzed as part of the larger network of all things across the enterprise – IT, business, suppliers, clients and prospects. Think about all the ways we could better shift workloads, allocate resources, and implement "protection" measures based on observing how people are actually using our IT right now.

And if this gives you a creepy big brother feeling, I'm predicting we'll stay firmly in charge of how we get "sensorized", only adopting capabilities that make us more effective and work more fun. Still, like credit card numbers, we'll have to stay aware that anything tracked online is subject to theft, fraud, and misuse.  It'll be work, but it'll be worth it!

About the Author

Mike Matchett is a senior analyst and consultant with IT analyst firm Taneja Group.


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