As his new car steered itself into his drive, he sat back in his seat and pulled out his tablet. The automatic pilot was driving him home far more efficiently and safely than he ever could. It had already routed itself around a traffic jam and sent some diagnostics back to the car dealership. His tablet began vibrating. He glanced down. It was displaying his blood pressure and his pulse rate in flashing amber lights. It was accurate to the second and had just been taken without his knowledge and without his intervention. The readings were a little high and next to them was a pop-up message reminding him to take his medication – his smart pill dispenser had already told the application on his device that no pill had been removed from the bottle today. And then, just to make him feel guilty, a log of his workout results from the last two weeks was flashing red, below the readout. Phew, he really needed to get in a run. Despite that, he smiled. His integrated health and GPS watch was doing its job as an early health warning system.
As the car pulled up to the front of the house, he wasn’t surprised to find a bag of groceries on his doorstep even though he couldn’t remember having ordered them. His connected fridge must have communicated with his chosen supermarket, ordered refills from his standing grocery order and they had been delivered just-in-time, maintaining freshness.
Even though he was still in the back of his car he switched on the mood lighting in his hall via a simple app on his device. He was feeling pretty happy – he’d closed a big deal today. He wanted to celebrate with his wife. He logged into his electronic wine cellar and looked at the contents through the in-built camera. Yes, that bottle of Bollinger was still there, and it was at the correct temperature according to the readout on his tablet. He’d need the right music to drink to. He used the music app to select the correct track to be playing on his internet-connected home entertainment system when he crossed the threshold. He punched in his house alarm on his tablet as the car came to a final halt. The back door of the car silently opened itself and he stepped out. He picked up the groceries and walked through his front door which had opened automatically on his approach. It had been a long day. Maybe he’d skip the run and go straight to a drink. All he really needed now was a robot to fetch the champagne and a couple of glasses and have it ready on the table. His neighbor had one – he really must remember to order a robot tomorrow.
Science fiction? Well, no. All this and much more is feasible today. Internet-enabled white goods and wine coolers, remotely controlled lighting systems, alarms controlled from the internet, health reading devices and so on are all available today. Bringing them all together in a connected world is not the stuff of the future. It is in the here-and-now.
The story above is just a small way to highlight how THE most exciting trend in the world can affect our daily lives. The trend is termed The Internet of Things (IoT) and it will affect every single human on the planet in time. It will allow connected cities, connected countries, more efficient allocation of resources and fundamentally change the way we live. It may even help us save the planet. It is that fundamental. And, according to one thought leader, 2014 will be the tipping point.
John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, is one of the strongest evangelists of this transformation. His keynote at CES 2014 focused on the business opportunities afforded by the Internet of Things (or the ‘Internet of Everything’. As Cisco term it). See his keynote here. It is one hour long but worth every minute. His conclusion is that 2014 will prove to be the transformational/pivotal point for the Internet of Everything (IoE).
The IoE, according to Cisco is the networked connection of people, processes, data and things.
The market impact from the IoT is mind-boggling. Gartner believes that in just 6 short years the economic value-add from internet-enabling devices and delivering a connected world will amount to nearly $2 Trillion.
A couple of weeks ago the NetApp CTO, Jay Kidd unveiled his 2014 technology predictions. In at number 9 was this one:
Big Data Evolves from Analyzing Data You Have to Driving the Collection of New Data
As companies derive value from analytics on existing data, they will move to collect additional data that will further their insight. New devices will emerge to gather more data about consumer behaviors, industrial processes, and natural phenomenon. These data sources will be used by existing analytics to improve insight, and they will give rise to entirely new analytic applications.
As it gains momentum the IoT is going to drive a tsunami of data. The growth in data that we have been experiencing in the last decade has largely been fueled by social media and unstructured content, with the proportion of enterprise data growth being relatively limited. See Mashable’s infographic to see exactly how social media has contributed to this. But this will be a drop in the ocean compared to what we’ll experience with all these connected consumer and electronic devices creating data. If businesses and governments are already struggling to keep up with data growth, and balancing the opportunities afforded with various cloud architectures, imagine what it is going to be like in 5 years’ time when they’ll be 500 billion connected devices all generating data! Some of this data will be ephemeral of course, but most will need storing, managing and mining.
In the last few years’ data storage as a topic has moved from an IT budget line item into a potential strategic enabler of growth. The CIO is keenly aware of this. However, as the tsunami of data hits, every C-suiter is going to need to understand this. NetApp has long been at the forefront of data storage efficiency technologies (such as snapshotting, de-duplication, compression and thin provisioning) and these will remain the foundation in this new world of IoT. There is no other way to address the need to store the quantity at an affordable cost. But it will also need highly sophisticated data analytics engines and mining applications. SAP Hana, Hadoop, MapR are just the tip of the iceberg. Making these apps effective requires a robust, highly scalable and performant underlying data management platform which can span private, public and hybrid clouds flexibly and transparently. The #1 storage operating system, Data ONTAP has been designed with these goals in mind from day 1. As every Sunday School attendee knows – the wise man built his house upon a rock, and as a every grown up CEO will get to know – the wise CIO builds his data center on a rock-solid data management platform.
50 years ago this week Isaac Asimov presented his vision of what the world might be like in 2014. Back in 1964 he outlined his predictions in an article for the New York Times. Asimov was a science fiction author and chemist, and although I don’t suppose anyone would have understood the term back then, he could well labelled a “futurologist” in today’s parlance. He was surprisingly accurate in those predictions. In some of them he was half-right and obviously he missed some completely, but in the main, he called a lot right. He may not have got the terminology completely correct but he essentially predicted the ubiquity of smart phones, the fledgling nature of robotics, the role of nuclear power and the advances in 3-D technology amongst many others. He predicted a world of wireless devices. By that he meant they would not use a conventional electrical cord and get power from a grid, but actually be powered by nuclear-charged long-lived batteries. Well he got those details a little wrong, but a world of internet-enabled wireless connected devices is precisely what we are talking about with the IoT. Read his predictions here. Given the rate of change in technology in the last decade, it would be pretty challenging to try and predict what the world might be like in 2064, so hats off to Asimov for his perspicuity.