IoT Networks Must Advance
A formidable challenge related to the IoT is architecting networks that optimize the flow of data and information while providing maximum security. It’s no secret that the protocols used for the internet are now decades old, and many weren’t built to support the connected and distributed devices that rules today’s IoT world. Too often, the result is suboptimal performance along with higher levels of risk.
Although edge and fog networks attempt to fix many of these issues, they can only go so far and do only so much. Simply put, there’s a need for a more modern and innovative framework for the IoT, one that makes it easier to design and deploy devices, applications, and services.
The problem hasn’t escaped researchers. For example, a group at the University of Magdeburg in Germany is examining how to develop self-organizing service migration. Within its proposed model, “services—such as home automation, data management, and business logic—no longer operate, as they have until now, centrally in a cloud, but instead can also act independently within a local infrastructure ecosystem,” the group notes in a June 2019 news release.
A New Model Emerges
To realize that promise, the University of Magdeburg group relies on a local server infrastructure to abstract data. The project, dubbed DoRIoT (dynamic runtime for organically (dis-)aggregating IoT processes), guarantees full sovereignty over proprietary data. It allows small companies, or even specific users, to operate independent of server infrastructures from external providers such as Google, Microsoft, or Amazon.
Some describe the environment as “extreme edge” computing. But DoRIoT takes the concept a step further by making it irrelevant where data actually resides. It could be on a server or in an IoT node. This means that an application or service won’t fail simply because a new device is switched on or there’s a change in the network.
Not only does the approach promote data ubiquity while enabling applications to access data according to their rights and requirements, but it creates an environment that isn’t subject to constant changes or unavailability due to changes from outside providers.
“Smart devices can then operate with one another independent of the cloud and therefore work autonomously and fault-tolerantly,” notes Mesut Güneş, a professor of computer science at the school’s Institute for Intelligent Cooperative Systems. By enabling smart devices to work outside the cloud, the model improves speed, reliability, and security all at once.
In the end, the environment “makes it possible to produce considerably more accurate information,” Güneş says. This approach could aid in climate model forecasts, monitoring traffic flows in an urban area, and managing large automated factories embracing Industry 4.0 technologies.
Making Connections Count
The researchers at University of Magdeburg aren’t alone in the pursuit of a more robust and secure IoT framework. The Ministry of Science and Technology for the government of India is studying ways to improve IoT networking through self-configuration capabilities, while a group of researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio is exploring ways to use blockchain to reduce IoT network latency and resource demands.
The takeaway for systems integrators and managed services providers is that the IoT landscape is changing rapidly, and those who understand how to put the IoT to work more effectively (and in a less costly way) are far more likely to thrive.
Samuel Greengard is a business and technology writer based in West Linn, Ore. He is the author of The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).