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What does ‘Internet of Things’ Actually Mean?

By Allie Philpin

We keep hearing the term ‘Internet of Things’; it’s a technological term that is being applied to collect information from data centres.  But do we actually know what the term means?  Probably not… So let’s try and explain it.

Basically, the Internet of Things, or IoT, is a system combining data-collecting technologies that allow objects to communicate.  The M2M (machine-to-machine) data that is generated can be used for a wide range of things to determine their current status.  It is a useful tool for IT administrators to find out information about just about anything physical.  Let’s give you an example: Cargo Tracck, a location services organisation based in Brazil, has put M2M sensors in trees in protected areas of the Amazon rainforest.  The sensors are activated when a tree is cut or moved and sends a notification to the company, including a GPS location, which allows conservationists to track when trees are being illegally damaged or removed.

There are some that say IoT is just communication via a closed network; they call this the Intranet of Things where apps have been deployed for a dedicated purpose and they don’t work outside of the network.  For Internet of Things to be a true reflection of M2M communications, applications are deployed and data is collected from machines which are monitored and are available to third-party applications.  But to work in a data centre, IoT needs vendors’ platforms to talk to one another, and that means standard APIs that can be used by all vendors, and into which equipment can be plugged, for a range of devices and system interfaces.

In February last year, IBM wanted their IoT protocol, known as Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) to be considered the open standard, enabling multiple vendors to become part of the Internet of Things.  Following this, other system integrators, such as HP, decided to be more open about their systems.  Then there are the platforms that are used to connect the systems from multiple vendors; for example LogMeIn uses Xively Cloud Services as their Internet of Things PaaS (Platform as a Service) enabling developers to design, create a prototype and then commercially produce any device that is connected to the Internet.  But should a company wish to use a closed system, then Xively is able to provide a secondary system.

However, one thing is certain and that is due to the rise of the Internet of Things, data centres are becoming increasingly larger in volume as more data is siphoned into the relevant data centre; that brings about the need to upgrade the enterprise’s storage and data processing infrastructure, sometimes significantly.

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