The coming wave known as the Internet of Things is going to force businesses to relearn much of what they know about data, according to Hewlett Packard Enterprise's top IoT executive.
Tom Bradicich, HPE's vice president and general manager for servers, converged edge and IoT systems, told an audience of business and government users at last week's Nth Symposium, HPE partner Nth Generation Computing's annual conference, that IoT is bringing together information technology and operations technology in a way that will change how they do business.
"It's coming," Bradicich said. "And it's a big business opportunity for many in this room."
Businesses will have to learn to deal with increasingly growing amounts of big data from a ever-widening range of sources, Bradicich said. This includes data from traditional IT sources including enterprise data; business events such as log, process and control information; and external data including stock price changes, medical data and inventories.
Other sources include up-to-the-minute data from social media and related sources, and from other "things" including data acquisition, natural phenomena and IoT -- including even from pets, he said.
"There's pent-up demand in things, even dog food bowls that Tweet you when they're empty," he said. "It's data. It's of value to the dog."
Data from those "things" in the physical analog world will be sourced from nature, people, electrical and mechanical devices, the environment and objects, Bradicich said. That data is primarily acquired by sensors and then digitized via some kind of analog-digital conversion.
That data can be captured from almost any interaction in the physical and natural world, Bradicich said. Things that can be captured include changes in light, sound, temperature, voltage, radio signals, moisture, vibration, velocity, wind and much more.
The amount of data from things is already eclipsing data from all other sources, Bradicich said. He cited the self-driving car, which can generate 4 TB of data per day, per car. "Imagine how much data will be collected from 10 million self-driving cars on the road by 2020," he said.
Customers will increasingly find themselves working on the "edge," Bradicich said. He said the edge, and not the data center or the cloud, is where the things are that are generating data.
It is important to make the edge intelligent with what Bradicich called the "3 Cs."
The first two are connecting via a network or direct connect; computing to make the data useful; and control of the data. The computing can be done at the sensor, at an access gateway, with edge IT, or in a data center or cloud. Citing research firm IDC, he said 40 percent of the data will be computed at the edge by 2019.
The third, controlling the data, goes beyond collecting and computing it to provide some kind of action, Bradicich said. "It's about the action to make your business better, or your health better," he said.
It is important to understand that IoT presents huge analog data challenges, but IoT data can be "really real-time" data, he said. Because of this, data center-class compute and analytics will shift out to the edge and converge with operations technology, he said.
IoT also provides perpetual connectivity. Bradicich said to think of the iPhone and the fact that human activities depend on location and time. "What could you do if you were perpetually connected to your customer?" he said.
HPE's response has been the development of its Edgeline IoT systems to provide the IT side of IoT in combination with OT partners including General Electric and Schneider Electric, Bradicich said.
He said that, because HPE was the first to bring IT and OT together via its Edgeline IoT systems, the company has a 100 percent share of the converged IT and OT market. "We were first," he said. "Others will copy."
Bradicich also offered predictions as to how lives will change as big data leads to unprecedented statistical significance, perpetual connectivity leads to unprecedented access, and the annihilation of time and location dependence leads to unprecedented efficiency and productivity.
As a result of these, it will be easier to actually predict the future, he said. Some day it may be illegal to drive a vehicle as self-driving cars improve traffic safety. Vital signs and health status will be measured via one's clothes, jewelry, toiletries and even tattoos.
Bradicich did an amazing job of educating customers about IoT, said Dan Molina, chief technology officer at San Diego-based Nth Generation Computing.
Molina told CRN that a lot of people at the event likely did not even know the difference between IT and OT.
"How he talked about the merge of IT and OT was brilliant," he said. "And I like how he described 'things' to include wind and temperature, and how society will start to measure all those billions of things."
While the IT industry talks about digital transformation and hybrid IT, it needs to take those discussions further than Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service, Molina said.
"This means more intelligence at the edge," he said. "In the past, we didn't see servers in the factory. But going forward, we'll have to do more compute at the edge. We'll see more real-time processing at the edge to send relevant data to the data center. But to save bandwidth, only useful data fragments will be sent. That will mean more wired and wireless connections, especially wireless since so many devices will be outside the business."
IoT and the convergence of IT and OT will also bring security to the forefront, Molina said. "More devices deployed means more devices will have to be protected," he said. "That's why security has become a major theme for Nth and for the Nth Symposium."