By 2020, there will be nearly 21 billion connected devices carrying countless new data points in a global Internet of Things, says Gartner Group, resulting in a 225% increase over the number of devices in 2016. Short of building a modern-day ark, how will carriers and enterprises, eager to redefine their customers’ experiences and achieve new levels of productivity, cope with this increase?
Nearly all IoT data – an estimated 90 percent – will be hosted on cloud-based service provider platforms by 2020. Readying for the massive take-up of devices, applications, traffic, and profile and usage data will demand scalable network and platform infrastructures. With many capabilities implemented in the cloud, network virtualization and automation via SDN/NFV-based networks will need to provide the necessary means for IoT scalability.
Reduce costs, increase speed of delivery
Network automation and virtualization is key to SDN and NFV technologies. It is expected to reduce costs and speed up the delivery of network-based services by abstracting configuration information for network services from the physical infrastructure. This means services may be set up with automated software orchestration tools.
As server virtualization did for computing resources, network virtualization enables hardware resources to be split up and controlled by software. This way network resources can be configured and divided for different customers and services without requiring physical changes or discrete infrastructures.
Cloud computing and a managed platform
Amazon’s aggressive early investment in the cloud was reflected in its October 2015 launch of AWS (Amazon Web Services) IoT. The managed cloud platform enables devices to connect securely to cloud applications and other devices, which hit over $12 billion in revenue and $3 billion in profit in 2016. Controlling 31% of the cloud infrastructure-as-a-service market by mid-2016, the company has moved into the smart home market with a voice-controlled smart speaker (Amazon Echo) that can control home automation devices and other services. A growing number of partners – including Uber, Fitbit, Spotify, and Nest – have apps for the Echo platform.
The trajectory from limited-capability M2M services to the super-capable IoT ecosystem has opened doors for both traditional communications infrastructure providers and industry innovators. By the end of 2017, two-thirds of the CEOs of the world’s largest public companies will have digital transformation at the center of their corporate strategy, predicts IDC FutureScape, as they work to transform their internal operations to match the needs of a hyper-connected world.