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What the Internet of Things means for DevOps

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to grow massively over the next few years, bringing online access to a huge variety of devices. According to Gartner, the number of connected “things” will reach a figure of 25 billion by 2020 and is sure to have a disruptive effect on numerous industries.

With more smart devices and a huge increase in the amount of data that these devices can collect, DevOps teams must be prepared to manage any potential problems that emerge.

Read more: Gartner Symposium 2014: Internet of Things will disrupt businesses and society

Currently, businesses are not prepared for the sheer scale of applications development and backend integration required by the growth of IoT products, while fragmentation is another major pitfall that DevOp teams must guard against.

The Internet of Things could lead to a wide variety of devices, made by different manufacturers and with different architectures, so DevOps must be agile and flexible enough to manage this diversity. Major companies like AT&T (opens in new tab) are already beginning to offer IoT support to facilitate the effective creation and management of IoT products. These range from pre-packaged solutions to a suite of developer tools and more.

The goal of retrieving data from IoT devices also poses hurdles for DevOps teams, who may experience disagreements with IT management. For example, management may have a specific data set that they want to acquire and, indeed, may have already identified the hardware required to collect it. However, it will be the task of DevOps teams to see if this hardware is compatible with existing software infrastructure. The scale of new IoT hardware and its compatibility with existing systems has the potential to cause major headaches for DevOps teams.

One of the ways to avoid compatibility issues is for DevOps teams to customise IoT devices as little as possible. While this may limit flexibility, it avoids potentially costly and time-consuming overhauls of existing hardware and software. Instead, businesses are advised to leave IoT products largely unmodified after receiving them from the supplier and instead manipulating and analysing the data to meet their goals.

However, the most widespread problem expected to emerge from the growth of the Internet of Things is regarding security. With so many smart devices being created, many of which will be constructed by relatively new companies, the potential for hacking and data theft is huge. Hardware suppliers will, of course, have their own role to play in preventing this, but DevOps teams must also ensure that security is built in to any IoT software solutions.

Moreover, businesses must assess which IoT products they allow to handle sensitive information and reject devices that could compromise their organisation. Similarly, if IoT products are collecting sensitive data businesses should promote transparency, particularly if personal data is being collected and being used by third-parties.

Although the Internet of Things poses a great number of challenges to DevOps, particularly when it comes to security, businesses can ultimately overcome them and embrace this emerging technology.

Read more: Cyber security will shape the Internet of Things

Internet of Things experts as well as DevOps tool providers will be present at this year’s IP Expo (opens in new tab), taking place on the 20-21 May at Manchester Central.

Register to attend IP EXPO 2015 FREE today (opens in new tab).

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.