6 Big ‘Things’ About IoT And On-Premise Object Storage: Discover ‘Internet Of Things’ Analytics Advantages

Neil Salamack
Product Marketing, EMC Emerging Technologies Division

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents a massive opportunity for agile organizations—and the best way to explore the enterprise IoT potential is with an on-premise analytics-ready data infrastructure based on software defined object storage. Read on to discover the top 6 reasons why IoT thrives on object storage.

Smart Connected ‘Things’ Are Taking Over The Internet

The era when the size of the internet was measured by the number of its human users is over. The majority of growth is now coming from internet-connected devices and machines, many of which do not have a specific human owner or operator. This has given rise to the so-called ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT)—the term that has emerged to describe this fast-growing world of billions of smart, networked devices and machines, generating and using data.

Connected smart devices in the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things Is a World of Enterprise Potential

The global rise of the internet in recent decades, with internet-connected mobile devices and machines producing continuous data, is creating a new world of opportunity for enterprise organizations. The potential of IoT is not just in the devices and the network, but also in the latest ‘big data’ analytics software. The enterprise opportunities come from being able to combine and analyze IoT data for new valuable insights—and apply these to provide smarter products, innovative solutions and personalized customer experiences. IoT and big data analytics work together to deliver a range of competitive advantages, enabling organizations to:

  • Learn consumer preferences and act on observed trends
  • Deliver ‘connected’ services that are personalized for the individual
  • Accelerate the speed of product delivery
  • Reinvent and improve manufacturing process, logistics, and efficiencies

Of course, the IoT possibilities are not just directly customer-facing—enterprise organizations can also use IoT to transform their internal processes, driving new efficiency, revenue increases and cost savings in areas like operations, supply chain, sales, marketing, maintenance, customer service and more.

Examples of how different sectors are using IoT include:

  • Manufacturing—creating ‘smart factories’ where IoT elevates automation to a new level, providing unparalleled process control, quality and efficiency
  • Retail—using IoT in everything from learning customer trends, to real-time inventory control with RFID tagging.
  • Energy and utilities—deploying ‘smart grids’ and using IoT for telemetry, metering and general data collection.
  • Insurance—enabling usage-based insurance with personalized pricing based on analysis of telemetry data from in-car device sensors.
  • Transport and logistics—using IoT to analyze traffic patterns, increase efficiency and save on fuel costs.
  • Government—a wide range of IoT uses, including for public health, disease control, education, crime prevention, emergency response, transportation services and traffic management.

The IoT Opportunity Also Brings New Data Challenges

Analysts IDC recently predict an explosive growth in the IoT space, to reach with its value to reach $1.7 trillion by 2020. If organizations are to derive value from IoT data, they first need a way to store it, ready for analytics.

Neither traditional file nor block storage is ideally suited for the kind of big data associated with IoT. The velocity and diversity of IoT data generation means that trying to manage it with a file storage folder structure is impractical. This unstructured nature of IoT big data also makes it unsuited for the database-orientated characteristics of block storage.

Another factor is that data storage for IoT must also be able to cope with potentially massive data growth in a short time. The millions of small data packets generated in IoT can quickly add up to seriously big data—on a petabyte-scale—creating a data growth, cost and storage challenge to the enterprise.

Data storage for IoT also needs to be able to ingest data as fast as it arrives from millions of sources—so velocity, availability and reliability are vital. The bigger your IoT data pool, the more precise and valuable your analytics have the potential to be. The creation of each item of IoT data is a one-time event. Miss out on capturing it and you miss your chance to derive value from it. If your storage platform goes down at the wrong moment, you may miss a very important data event.

In addition, analytics tools like Hadoop MapReduce and YARN (Yet Another Resource Negotiator) now offer computing power that was previously exclusive to large enterprises and supercomputers. With these tools, a larger data set equates to higher accuracy in predictive analytics. Consequently, all of your IoT data must be captured and stored for later analysis. But what kind of data storage is right for IoT?

Object Storage Enables the Full Potential of IoT

‘Object storage’ is the predominant cloud-scale data storage model that organizations need to understand in order to exploit IoT opportunities, and deal with the specific nature and rapid growth of IoT data.

In this storage architecture, data items are not stored in blocks, files or folders, but rather in flexibly-sized containers called ‘objects’. Placing data items in object storage is quick and easy—like putting items in a bucket—so it can deal with rapid ingestion of millions of IoT data items from millions of sources.

Object storage is great for storing large amounts of unstructured IoT data, as its simple ‘flat’ structure can scale elastically. Object storage also works well with big data analytics platforms like Hadoop—vital for getting actionable insights from your IoT data. This is because object storage offers user-customizable metadata, which delivers almost limitless search options and ways for categorizing big data.

But how do you decide where to store your object data? Is public cloud or on-premise private cloud the best option for your IoT strategy—and in which situations?

IoT/Analytics: Comparing Private vs Public Cloud

Top 6 Reasons Why IoT Thrives On software defined object storage

The latest generation of on-premise object storage solutions like EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) give enterprise organizations an attractive new option to complement public cloud for IoT analytics. Here’s 6 good reasons why...

1. Cloud benefits plus more control: With on-premise object storage you get the scalability and simple management of public cloud—but you retain full control over the location and protection of sensitive IoT data, behind your corporate firewall.

2. Performance and availability: You also get the performance advantages and availability of on-premise storage for your IoT business apps and users. Keeping data close within your network reduces latency and minimizes outages for a better user experience.

3. Multi-protocol access for in-place analytics: With EMC ECS, all stored IoT data can be immediately accessed and analyzed via HTTP, popular APIs, and built-in HDFS—the industry-standard protocol for Hadoop big data analytics. There’s no need to perform time-consuming and costly data transfers to a separate dedicated analytics platform. This shorter analytics workflow means your IoT time-to-value is much faster.

4. Geo-distributed access and resiliency: IoT data comes from many geographically distributed sources—often from around the world. With ECS, geographic distribution and consistency is built-in—so one system covers all your geographic needs and keeps all IoT data in the same repository.

5. Software Defined simplicity: EMC ECS is a ‘Software Defined Storage’ solution. Rather than requiring an expensive large central storage array, you can use flexible low-cost commodity infrastructure—‘off-the-shelf’ hard drives, compute servers and Ethernet networking. The intelligence in the smart ECS software manages and unifies everything ‘behind the scenes’ into simple yet high-performance shared pools of capacity—creating a true Software Defined Storage platform that’s simple to use and manage.

6. Save on public cloud fees: Another upside of having your own on-premise object storage is that you don’t have to pay regular fees to a public cloud provider. That’s something you’ll find particularly welcome when your IoT data is measured in the petabyte-scale, and when you need to transfer your data elsewhere.

Ready to Make IoT Your Next Big Thing?

For most organizations exploring IoT, the choice between public cloud and on-premise object storage will not be ‘one or the other’—both approaches will play a valuable role in different use cases. The important thing is you now have a wider range of IoT options.

Organizations using IoT that want the reassurance and confidence of a turnkey on-premise object storage solution can turn to a partner like EMC for end-to-end expertise, support, software, and hardware—with the EMC ECS Appliance providing a uniquely simple pre-configured option.

Get your organization in position to explore the possibilities enabled by IoT, with smart on-premise object storage. You can start small, with a cost-free test environment—and scale up easily when ready for real IoT opportunities.

EMC ECS software is available to download now and try free.

Find out more about IoT, EMC ECS, and how EMC can help you with object storage.