If you’ve read any articles about the Internet of Things (IoT), you’ve likely seen estimates of how many billions of devices will be connected to the web (or local networks) in the near future. No one can seem to agree on the exact number, but whether it’s 21 billion or 50 billion, one fact is clear: The IoT is gaining momentum and will continue to change the way we live and work.
Devices have been connected to the Internet in some form or another for decades now, but the true promise of the IoT, especially for enterprises, is quick access to a wide variety of data that can help you identify new opportunities, streamline processes and personalize the customer experience like never before. It’s a promise that still hasn’t been realized as fully as most people have hoped.
As we head toward the third decade of the 21st century, here are some factors that can help or hinder enterprises in the world of IoT—and some places where you might see SUSE® solutions and our partners make a difference.
Edge Computing Gets Smarter
Every connected sensor and device that is gathering data outside of a large data center is considered to be at the edge. Traditionally, these edge devices have primarily collected data and sent it to the cloud for analysis because the devices haven’t had compute or storage capabilities. But that’s changing. We’ll begin to see more and more edge devices that contain the resources to actually perform analytics and apply machine learning to the collected data—resulting in cheaper, faster and more efficient data processing. When part of the data is stored locally on an IoT edge device, information and insights are available on demand and can also relieve stress on the network and minimize the need for bandwidth and low latency.
Sensors Need to Become Standardized
One of the current challenges of the IoT is that it’s a very fragmented system. In a supply chain, for instance, every step of the chain might use different sensors that don’t connect to each other because they don’t speak the same language or even if they do, they’re not set up to listen to each other. The value in a connected supply chain is that every supplier participates and that all the sensors work together to create a complete, cohesive view of the operation.
Realizing the full promise of the IoT requires interoperability across products, applications and services that eliminate vendor lock-in, and a unified open source operating system like SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a great way to start building an interoperable foundation. Global standardization is critical. Many national and international regulatory organizations have been working on this for some time, but as the number of devices connected to the IoT skyrockets, we should begin to see some progress in this area.
Security Must Evolve
The more devices we connect to the Internet or to each other, the larger the attack surface we create for hackers. IoT security is complex because it involves many devices owned by many entities—think of a connected automobile, for instance. With the thousands of sensors and systems it contains, many manufactured and managed by a range of providers, who is ultimately responsible for the holistic security of that vehicle environment? Manufacturers are now looking to other emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain, to beef up security along the IoT network and connected devices.
5G Enables New IoT Opportunities
5G networks won’t simply mean a faster connection for mobile phones. Their super-high speeds and lower latency will make it easier to support much higher numbers of IoT sensors in more locations than before. 5G will also allow enterprises to collect, analyze and manage data in real time, which enables broader and more innovative applications for IoT. Right now, 5G technology isn’t quite ready to transform the IoT landscape, but it’s getting there. Over the next 12 months or so, we should see it begin to roll out more and become useful for IoT.
SUSE Empowers Enterprises with IoT Support
IoT isn’t simply a collection of connected devices. Those devices rely on services run from software, data centers and public clouds—and Linux, together with application and data management, is the most common operating system for all.
As a world-class enterprise Linux provider, SUSE is well positioned to support your enterprise IoT endeavors. For many years, we’ve been researching and developing integrated and embedded systems for IoT. We’re continually working on increasing support for IoT requirements and technologies. Solutions such as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Just Enough Operating System (JeOS), MicroOS, SUSE CaaS Platform, SUSE Cloud Application Platform and SUSE Enterprise Storage are very useful for IoT applications. Let us help you discover new, exciting IoT use cases as the technology—and your organization—evolves.