Cloud thinking for IoT

Who would have thought that the legal side of IoT could be so interesting?
Who would have thought that the legal side of IoT could be so interesting?

TechUK held an event called “Can the IoT (Internet of Things) become a reality without the Cloud?” and whilst the event didn’t really answer the headline question, it was interesting in other unexpected ways.

The last couple of events I’ve attended at TechUK have been a little dry, lacking anything interesting to report here. As I left the office for the IoT event I remarked to a colleague that if this event was also dry, I might reduce the number of TechUK events I attend.

There were four speakers supported by the chair Stephen Pattison, VP, ARM Holdings:

  • Paul D’Cruz, Chief Technical Officer, Cisco UK Public Sector
  • Barry Jennings, Associate, Bird & Bird
  • Nick Hyner, Director Cloud Services EMEA, Dell
  • Gabriel Vizzard, Internet of Things Lab Services Foundry, IoT Solution Architect, IBM

Stephen, Paul, Nick and Gabriel naturally promoted their employer’s latest product offerings, with varying degrees of humour.

Surprise surprise Cisco said the current network (Internet) doesn’t have the bandwidth for billions of devices (I wonder who sells network equipment….) and Dell talked about more Cloud computing which ultimately translates into more [Dell] servers. Every time thw word “security” was mentioned, we were served a reminder of how much ARM are investing in IoT security protocols.

The surprise session was from Barry Jennings who spoke about the liability and funding models for IoT.

The liability of IoT

In terms of liability, it’s one thing if your banking smartphone app doesn’t work for an hour, or your sleep-tracking app misses a night. But it’s very different if your IoT device which is monitoring the brakes on your car, or your smoke alarm, or your health, and so on…. if they fail, then the results could be much more serious.

We are heading to a new World where the liability of an IoT sensor going wrong could be expensive or even fatal. We’re not talking about getting a coat ruined because the weather app said it wouldn’t rain.

If a connected sensor on structure doesn’t report a fault and then the structure fails, the results could be serious.

During the discussion we talked about today’s equivalent – sensors in our cars which report faults. Most of the time it’s the sensor that fails and not the device. But this can lead to sensor-fatigue where we stop believing the fault because we just assume it’s the sensor that has failed. If that happens to IoT, it will be the end of another IT trend.


Back to the exam question: “Can the IoT (Internet of Things) become a reality without the Cloud?

The answer from the audience in the room was that IoT and Cloud are intrinsically linked.

I disagree. I think IoT will come full circle. At present, our smartphones sometimes act as a gateway for other devices. These Bluetooth devices communicate to our smartphone, which wraps all the data together often inside an app, before sending the processed data to the cloud.

However, with so many security break-ins at the moment, I think we’ll see a decoupling between IoT to cut the impact of security incidents.

Our smartphone apps may not send the data to the cloud unless it’s necessary. For instance, a healthcare app might take readings from heart rate or blood pressure monitors, and only notify the cloud if the results are out of a healthy range.

1 thought on “Cloud thinking for IoT

  1. A great post but I’m not really sure I would agree with your reason for the decoupling within IoT. Data that is collected is often segmented and handled by different systems which have differing levels of security around them. I would be very surprised, for example, if banking apps stored authorization data anywhere near behavioural analytics gathering data and being able to compromise one does not necessarily mean that one is able to compromise the other.

    In terms of liability, it does seem that it makes sense to back up bold ideas with IT infrastructure to support them and this could well hinder linkage between devices where safety is a factor, no doubt.

    However, marketing people have seen huge gains in being able to tie together profile and behavioural data to better target customers so in this respect at least IoT is still set to soar.

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