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The term ‘Internet of Things’ is quite ambiguous, but it has quickly become a tangible technology that is set to effect businesses across the world. In simple terms the IoT includes any technology that can be used to collect information and manage systems.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is generally seen as a collection of single purpose consumer devices that are connected to the Internet. This has historically excluded smart devices such as laptops, servers and mobile phones; however the emergence of embeddable micro-computers, such as the Edison from Intel, has opened up the possibility of intelligence everywhere, where all devices are smart, multipurpose and self-aware – and therefore require management.
When we founded CentraStage back in 2006 we coined the strapline “Every Device Counts”. Our thinking is that unless you have visibility and control of all of your devices – regardless of location or network - then you can’t be certain that everything is as it should be. IoT platforms are the convergence of remote management and monitoring, endpoint management and big data, and at CentraStage we are already building the systems to manage this ecosystem.
As it does with everyday servers, laptops, tablets, and phones, the effectiveness and performance of the Internet of Things (IoT) will come down to the reliable monitoring and management of the underlying devices and systems. Ensuring that they are working correctly, and fixed or replaced when they are not, is going to require scalable, secure and reliable platforms to provide real-time performance monitoring of the myriad of devices that will supply, and act on the data produced by, IoT systems.
The real IoT is down at the machine level, where data is exchanged between connected devices and decisions are made automatically, based on pre-determined thresholds and process logic. Now things become more interesting and of course – to borrow a theme coined by Google – a little creepier. Now your watch tells your heating that you’re on your way home, so crank it up just a few degrees, and ask the fridge to check for milk.
In parts of London motorists can pay for metered parking with their smartphones and get notifications when their time is about to expire. Start-up 24eight is looking for a partner to manufacture its wireless nappies that will alert parents with ‘wet diaper’ notifications, and Dutch company Sparked is embedding transmitter in the ears of cows to monitor their health and prevent the spread of disease.
All these systems rely on data in order to automate their actions; and it is this data that determines the decisions that they will make on our behalf. This data is either real-time, supplied by sensors, or based on historical data that must be stored and analysed. This is the realm of big data and the focus of many IoT services. Who owns this data, who has access to it, and how long it can be stored for will be the subject of many debates as the IoT evolves.
Should your health insurance company monitor the contents of your fridge in return for lower premiums, or how about your energy company monitoring your movements to optimise your heating bill? These moral dilemmas are fast approaching and if we are going to have confidence in their compliance, then we better have confidence in the quality of the data they will base their decisions on.
Gartner estimates there are currently 1.4 billion computing platforms worldwide, and yet project this to grow to 20 billion by 2020 with the advent of the IoT – a phenomenal rate of growth. The challenge of keeping that number of devices running is not a technical one – but one of scale. Overcoming the issues of scale is the central tenant of the RMM market’s core value proposition.
Our objective at
has never been to match competitors feature by feature, but rather to solve the challenge of delivering a core feature set across device numbers where the volumes ruled out our competitors.
We knew that in order to compete in the RMM market we would have to provide a core feature set that matched or exceeded customer requirements, but our strategy was to build those features into an elastic architecture rather that to attempt to retro elasticity into our feature set - a seemingly subtle difference, but one that has positioned CentraStage perfectly to handle the growing ‘Internet of Things’.
Christian Nagele is the CEO and co-founder of CentraStage.