Postcards from the Edge of IoT Analytics

Old postcards illustrate how Dell offers solutions for managing, securing and analyzing data from the data center to the farthest endpoint

Late last month, I participated on a panel at the IoT Evolution Conference & Expo, entitled “Unleashing value from analyzing data generated by the Internet of Things.” Joining me were Syed Hoda, CMO at ParStream, and Laurie Lamberth, associate partner at 151 Advisors. Even though it was the last day of the conference, we had the good fortune to share insights with a standing-room only crowd eager to learn how real-time analytics could help generate more value from their IoT initiatives.

It’s crystal clear that IoT can help companies drive significant operational efficiencies and business growth. The trick is figuring out the best way to address the rapidly rising numbers of sensors, embedded systems and connected devices, which are taking data volume and complexity to a whole new level.  

A recent report from ABI Research estimates the volume of data captured by IoT-connected devices will surpass 1.6 zettabytes within five years. According to ABI, only a fraction of this data is currently being captured for further analysis because the vast majority is stored or processed locally without a way for it to be easily shared across the enterprise to aid decision making.

Many companies are betting on fog computing to solve this problem by reducing the amount of local data that needs to be transmitted back to the cloud for processing and analysis. Bringing these functions closer to the data source will let companies extend the benefits of cloud computing to their network edge and for faster, easier and more meaningful business insights. That’s where edge analytics come in, as the ability to access time-sensitive, geospatial data opens the door for real-time analysis of data with increased accuracy and context.

Edge analytics will help fulfill the promise of IoT and be a gating factor for scaling IT infrastructures to reliably capture, store and ensure accessibility to data generated by hundreds of billions and even trillions of devices. The sheer volume and complexity of managing all of this decentralized, localized data can quickly overload traditional environments and analysis tools.  

Most legacy solutions haven’t been designed to ensure low-latency data access for geospatial workloads at the enterprise’s edge. A lack of protocol standards also complicates cross-domain data sharing while alignment challenges between IT and business stakeholders can quickly derail strategy development and implementation.

That’s why we recommend architecting for analytics, as the success of any deployment will be tied directly to the quality of the insights gleaned. For many Dell customers, this means having the flexibility to deliver predictive analytics at the core while creating a path for performing data aggregation and scoring at the edge.

For Smart Start, a Grapevine, Tex.-based leader in alcohol monitoring technology that manufacturers a line of ignition interlock breath analyzers, Dell devised an edge analytics solution for sending near real-time quality data from its production line. The goal: Increase product quality throughout the company’s supply chain. The solution: A multi-tier automation and data management system that collects data from each of the assembled products, analyzes it using custom algorithms, then aggregates it from multiple manufacturing sites into the cloud so the latest, most accurate details can be presented in reports and visualization tools.

The key to the success of this—and any—deployment is using modular, architecture-agnostic solutions that scale quickly from pilot to production. Of course, bolstering security is critical as an exponential increase in connected devices introduces an exponential increase in security risks. Dell puts security first to ensure our customers don’t end up with the “Internet of Compromised Things.”

At Dell, we practice what we preach with solutions for managing, securing and analyzing data from the data center to the farthest endpoint and along all the networks and clouds in between. We suggest starting small and building on current technology investments and real-world successes. Luckily, our customers are well positioned to take advantage of Dell’s end-to-end hardware, software and services framework to build secure, extensible, supportable, expandable and configurable IoT solutions today.

What are you doing to make the Internet of Things real…today? How do you plan to deploy edge analytics and unlock greater value from your data? Connect with me on Twitter at @alertsource to join the conversation.

About the Author: John Whittaker