Emerging Through the Cloud
By: Ashok Iyengar
Examining Emerging Technologies
Enterprises thinking about the Cloud Adoption and Transformation journey often inquire about the dimension entitled Emerging Innovation Spaces, commonly known as Emerging Technologies. We tell them Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Quantum Computing, Analytics, etc. are such technologies. Wikipedia defines emerging technologies as radically novel, relatively fast-growing technologies that are perceived as capable of changing the status quo.
Lumping all these new technologies into a single dimension does not fully convey their breadth because they are so varied and interesting. In my opinion, they should be separated out like the set of Lanthanide elements in the periodic table. See the dimension expanded out in the graphic below.
In this post, I talk about IoT and AI not because I just got a new Fitbit device, but because these two technologies have become so pervasive.
IoT + Cloud
Just like people were already using Gmail without knowing anything about the Cloud, nowadays many people use a fitness device or a smart assistant without knowing anything about the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT simply works off of the Internet. It does not need the Cloud. So, do the two intersect and do they complement each other?
Smart devices and sensors are out there are continuously tracking and collecting data. This data is sent to somebody or some enterprise for further analysis. For example, a smart building could have thousands of sensors measuring all kinds of data related to thermal, optical, structural, and environmental stimuli. Imagine the computing power needed to analyze data from all those sensors. The generation of an unprecedented amount of data by IoT devices puts tremendous strain on the Internet. That is where the Cloud comes in. The sample IoT architecture diagram below shows how the IoT device user is connected to the Cloud—be it for device registration, device identity, storing data, or accessing enterprise data.
Simply put, data collected through IoT devices is stored and processed on the Cloud. Then, based on our learning and processing of that data, enterprises can take quick decisions. Since IoT is reporting raw real-time data, the Cloud acts as a redundant receptor so that if a data point is missed in one place, it will still get recorded in another. Also, IoT devices can be ubiquitous and in a state of motion. The Cloud can serve as a collection point that can be considered in closest proximity. This helps in minimizing the latency in reporting up the data points and providing a response back to the IoT application.
The part about storing volumes of IoT data in the Cloud is easy to see, but what about the learning and processing bit?
AI + Cloud
Making sense of the endless streams of data from the various IoT devices is where AI comes in. Remember the smart assistants I alluded to earlier? They are one of the common IoT devices in the market used by many. What makes them smart is the fact that they continue to learn about the user’s preferences as usage grows. They learn about song preferences, home temperature settings, meal times, etc. Over time, the smart assistants anticipate what to do based on past history. That is AI in action.
There is definitely a two-way relationship between IoT and AI. Just as AI has an appetite for data from anywhere, the IoT device appropriate behavior can be dictated by the application based on the responses from AI. We also see the growing role AI plays in IoT applications and deployments.
On the other hand, Cloud satisfies AI’s appetite for information via event streaming, processing power, and providing all the information that AI needs for machine learning. And we see that more and more AI services are offered in the Cloud that businesses can easily use.
IoT + AI + Cloud
What we see is a sort of symbiotic relationship between IoT, AI, and Cloud. IoT devices and architecture collecting all the data, AI apps analyzing and making sense of the data, and both these emerging technologies leveraging Cloud’s scalability and processing power to provide value to individual users and business users alike.
So the Cloud is there to make sure the data gets to where it needs to go and quickly. And its ability to scale vertically and horizontally makes it the ideal platform for IoT and AI.
I would like to know what you think.