The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the essential technologies for data collection and management today. More organizations in industries from government to life sciences are using IoT data to improve their processes, understand their clients and customers, and increase their value. There were 11.3 billion IoT devices worldwide in 2021, and experts anticipate that number will nearly triple by 2030. All of that data requires unparalleled data storage, convenient access, and security solutions.
Saving IoT data in the cloud effectively solves your organization's IoT challenges. Discover why IoT data and cloud services make the perfect pair.
What is IoT?
The IoT is a network of computing devices, machines, objects, and living things equipped with technology that connects their data with other systems over the internet. The “things” in an IoT system range from industrial machines to farm animals embedded with a biochip.
Everything transferring data within an IoT system is implanted with a smart device, called an IoT device. An IoT device is any item with computational capabilities that can transfer information over the internet, from heart monitors to automobile sensors, scientific equipment to appliances.
Your organization's people have limited time, making manual data entry inefficient. And manual data entry is also error-prone. IoT eliminates the need for time-consuming processes by gathering data using automation.
The devices in an IoT network enable the automatic exchange of data, removing human-to-computer or human-to-human interaction. Using IoT means your organization collects, analyzes, and transmits data much faster than when relying on human performance.
The history of IoT
The widespread use of IoT is relatively new, though the concept has been around since the 1990s. Kevin Ashton first coined the term when he was the Executive Director of Auto-ID Labs at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1999.
Ashton believed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) was a key solution for inventory tracking. He first described an IoT system in a presentation on the topic, during a time when “internet” was a growing buzzword. Ashton argued that computers should be able to gather data without human intervention to reduce costs.
In the early 2000s, organizations from the United States Department of Defense to Walmart began using RFID and IoT in daily operations. This technology provides organizations with benefits across manufacturing, warehousing, and medical technology, to name just a few. This revolutionary tech development enables entities worldwide to gather and process data through the internet using minimal effort and manual power.
How does IoT work?
An IoT ecosystem includes things embedded with web-enabled devices that use technology like sensors, processors, and communications hardware to gather and transmit data. An IoT device uses communication protocols to collect this data from its environment, whether that environment is a patient or a thermostat. The device sends that information to the cloud or the IoT hub for analysis. IoT devices may communicate with one another and act on the information they receive.
Because little human intervention is required, IoT opens countless channels for streamlined communications between machines, people, and everyday objects.
Who uses IoT and why?
An IoT network is an effective tool for collecting and analyzing all types of data. IoT's versatility enables organizations across industries to use the technology in various ways and gain a wide range of benefits. For instance, many industries use IoT insights to improve their operational practices and gain a competitive edge.
Some of the benefits of IoT are industry-specific, while others apply to multiple industries. IoT enables enterprises to:
- Monitor their machines and product quality
- Track the location of their physical assets
- Improve the customer experience
- Increase efficiency and safety
- Reduce costs
- Integrate and improve process changes
These IoT benefits apply across industries, making the technology attractive to all kinds of organizations. Here are some of the industries that can benefit from IoT the most:
IoT is extremely useful in the public sector and service-related industries like the government. Federal and local governments gain numerous benefits from IoT's range of applications. A municipal government organization, for instance, might use IoT to monitor power outages or changes within buildings, bridges, and other structures.
According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), many federal agencies use IoT to:
- Monitor systems and equipment: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) might use IoT water-monitoring sensors to transmit data to centers for analysis
- Control facility access: It's easier to control who can and can't access network-connected devices or IoT-enabled, smart-lock entries on facilities
- Track assets like agency vehicles: The government can determine fleet location and monitor maintenance needs for their other assets
These automated functions allow agency staff to focus on other work and be more proactive in their services. IoT gives government organizations ample time to alert citizens to service interruptions and improve infrastructure to keep citizens safe and offer a better experience.
Life sciences organizations handle vast amounts of data, which they require to gather and transmit accurately to maintain product effectiveness and public health. Research and development companies use IoT in clinical trials of new medical products and technologies. IoT devices capture and synthesize data to create the most accurate picture of product effectiveness.
IoT is also helpful in real-time patient care. Wearable vital-signs monitors, heart monitors, and other implants use IoT to transmit data to a central location for healthcare workers to view. IoT may help healthcare professionals respond to patient vital signs faster, improving the level of care in hospitals and other healthcare settings.
Manufacturing and transportation are the two global industries that spent the most on IoT services in 2019. Manufacturers use IoT heavily because an IoT system improves visibility into every aspect of production. IoT enables better production-line monitoring by providing data on industrial machine performance. These updates alert manufacturers to machine failure, reduced production output, or other issues. This insight enables manufacturers to monitor their machines better and prevent problems.
Transportation and logistics
IoT allows greater insight into every factor involved in transportation and logistics, from vehicles to individual shipments. Distributors use IoT devices to manage their fleet of trucks, ships, and trains and improve route planning. IoT also provides insight into inventory storage conditions, shipment tracking, and more. Fleet managers can also track maintenance needs efficiently using IoT devices.
With fleets and projects to manage, individuals in the construction industry leverage IoT data to streamline countless processes. From modeling to planning and completing projects, these and other construction processes benefit from IoT-connected devices:
- Update building information modeling (BIM) plans
- Track parts and materials
- Gain insight into changing environmental conditions
More devices, more data
It's no secret that IoT offers significant benefits for organizations across industries. The advantages encourage more organizations to use IoT systems, leading to more IoT devices on the internet than ever before — and that number is only expected to climb.
The problem with the greater utilization of IoT is the increased need for data storage. Having billions of IoT devices collecting data results in vast amounts of information that each organization needs to store. IoT devices don't typically have a lot of storage capacity, so the data must go elsewhere.
Many industries also require a centralized storage location organizations can access and retrieve data from when required. All that IoT-generated data isn't very useful if you can't access an organized version of it. So, organizations often use cloud storage to solve data storage and management challenges.
Cloud storage provides a secure location for organizations to store and access their IoT data. A cloud storage solution is a hub for the IoT data that devices collect, holding it until the organization deals with it later.
IoT networks also require large amounts of processing power, which cloud storage solutions provide. A combined cloud and IoT solution enables IoT developers to manage and work with IoT data in a flexible, agile way.
IoT and the cloud: Perfect for each other
As businesses and organizations begin implementing IoT more widely, many are discovering that their biggest challenge is the demand for data storage. Every IoT device creates data that needs somewhere to go. Any organization using IoT generates large amounts of data, whatever the industry. If they want to scale their IoT use, organizations must determine how their technologies work together in areas like:
- How many IoT devices will generate information on the IoT network
- How the IoT devices will send data to the organization
- Whether the organization will capture data in batches or in real time
- How analytics will help streamline data processing
- Where data will be stored for later use
Implementing an IoT strategy often comes with connectivity issues. IoT devices are powerful and efficient but have limited computational and storage capacities. These devices may be able to share information, but they are designed to send the data to a central location over the internet for processing and storage. Cloud computing is the ultimate solution for this difficulty.
As an external storage solution, cloud computing offers your business or organization the infrastructure to manage and scale up your IoT operations. The cloud provides a secure central location that automatically collects and stores data and the processing power required for analyzing and organizing it into usable parts, freeing your organization's people from manually sorting through the data their IoT devices collect. Cloud storage also simplifies connectivity between every IoT device in an organization's network.
How does IoT work with the cloud?
The cloud and IoT fit together in a symbiotic relationship. An IoT network puts data through three stages:
- In the first stage, the interconnected system of IoT sensors and processors creates the data from information they collect from their environments
- The devices then send the data to a central location that stores and organizes it
- At the end of the cycle, the data needs to be stored for future use
An IoT cloud effectively meets an organization's storage and processing needs, streamlining the data collection and utilization process.
Many IoT devices collect data constantly. Whether IoT devices transmit data in real time or in batches, both strategies require effective processing and organization to be helpful for the organization.
Consider this example — machine telemetry data is analyzed in the order it arrives to produce accurate results. With IoT cloud solutions, the database uses advanced technology to ingest and process measurements in real time to create a precise picture from the data.
An IoT cloud also serves as a data storage solution. Cloud storage integrates the data that was previously scattered across multiple IoT devices in a network into one location that organizations can access through the internet. With this benefit, your organization can eliminate data silos — having information spread across locations that aren't accessible to every team member. The central position of a cloud database for IoT can provide your organization with quick, uniform access to your data at any time.
Its storage, processing, and analytics capabilities make IoT cloud technology more accessible than ever, enabling more organizations to benefit. Recent research shows us that global spending on IoT solutions is expected to reach $1.6 trillion by 2025. That's a lot of growth — which makes cloud collaboration with IoT devices key. Consider a few of the most significant benefits the IoT cloud offers:
Access to data is essential when your business uses an IoT system. Many organizations have large IoT networks, especially in industries like life sciences, government, and manufacturing. These organizations require connectivity between hundreds or thousands of IoT devices and the data they create. The task is monumental, but the IoT cloud provides the solution. The cloud enables easy access to the information it stores, giving organizations greater control over data management.
Cloud services are web-enabled, meaning your team members can access the IoT data from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. So, if you have a widespread remote team or international offices, don't worry. The IoT cloud can gather measurements and insights from your organization's IoT devices and compile them via the cloud for internet-enabled access anywhere.
Your organization's teams can also use any device to access their cloud data, including laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Whether your people have company-provided devices or use their own, they can access vital information via the cloud.
Developers, IT teams, and others within an organization who require access to IoT data can even access the cloud on command, making operations more efficient. Enhance troubleshooting with easy IoT data access to get systems, fleets, or entire facilities up and running again.
With increased access to your IoT data, your organization can streamline its processes and remove inefficiencies to make decisions faster. The accessibility of the IoT cloud also makes data analytics far more convenient for your organization's teams. For example, researchers in the life sciences can access medical device data from the cloud and collaborate remotely on solutions to the issues they encounter. When IoT data is easily accessible on the cloud, it helps your organization view anything from life-saving information to process-critical data.
An IoT ecosystem is an evolving network, and businesses can easily expand it as they need to add new devices. But this increased connectivity leads to data storage challenges. An ideal IoT data storage solution is scalable to meet an organization's changing requirements. Fortunately, the IoT cloud has virtually unlimited storage capacity and can easily handle a growing number of IoT devices in one system.
The IoT cloud allows plenty of room for growth as your organization broadens its reach and capabilities. One of the most significant benefits of the cloud is its massive storage capacity, allowing businesses to maintain a consistent record of their IoT data over time. Your organization isn't limited by on-premise data storage solutions, where you'd only be able to scale as large as your facilities could allow. Instead, the cloud grows with your business, whether you're expanding or downsizing.
Cloud data processing is more accessible to smaller organizations since the cloud doesn't require an on-premise infrastructure. Organizations using the IoT cloud don't have to invest in physical data servers. That benefit also means you wouldn't need to invest in the team members required to maintain on-site servers just to keep your IoT data in one place.
The cloud also maintains fast computing even as storage needs increase. Whether only C-suite teams require IoT data or you have clients that have to access this info, the cloud gets it to them quickly.
Faster internet speed enables the cloud to work lightning-fast and remain agile. The IoT cloud enables your organization to change software settings and add more users as your needs progress, all without compromising efficiency and accuracy.
Connectivity between IoT devices is essential in an IoT ecosystem. IoT cloud solutions also enable collaboration between users within an organization and with teams from other industries.
Because cloud services enable remote data access and don't require on-premise data servers, they allow the collaboration of teams in different locations and across organizations.
Consider a government agency with multiple departments. Those separate teams can use the cloud to share IoT data and make decisions faster. And if the agency, like a Department of Transportation, needs to contract work with an outside company, like a construction business, the two organizations can share data from IoT devices with each other on the cloud.
Collaboration can lead to great outcomes. The IoT cloud creates more opportunities for innovation and problem-solving, leading to more proactive solutions for data management.
Developers can also access IoT data and devices remotely through the cloud. Your organization's teams can interface with IoT data and new features, making app development and decision-making easier.
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Leverage the cloud for your IoT data
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