The Internet of Things (IoT) is already changing how consumers shop, live and interact; but it is also changing how companies do business. For consumers, IoT is a marketing term used to describe everyday objects as Internet-connected devices. And while IoT "smart home" based applications grab media headlines, it is the industrial and public services sector that will form the majority of the IoT device base. According to industry reports, connected devices will number 38.5 billion in 2020, up from 13.4 billion in 2015: a rise of over 285%.
To find out more information, I reached out to Michael Morton, CTO, Dell Boomi to discuss IoT in more detail and get a better education as to where things are headed.
VMblog: What are the biggest challenges/roadblocks presented by IoT?
Michael Morton: The answer depends on the role of the person
being asked. For example, if you ask an engineer/architect, predictably,
the answer will be "it depends." If you ask a CIO, the answer may be
"to secure and govern device data." If you ask a CEO, it may be "what is
the return on my investment?" While this is typical when assessing a
new strategy for a company, unifying all levels of a business is
particularly challenging for an IoT strategy.
However, the most
significant challenge/roadblock presented by IoT no matter the level of
the business, is simply defining the problem you want to solve and what
new business value you are trying to achieve. Only after overcoming this
initial definition challenge can system architects and developers begin
around defining an IoT platform reference architecture, choosing
vendors for hardware and software, defining a data security strategy,
applying foresight around scaling as additional scenarios are
implemented, supportability, operational costs, new skills/hires, etc.
VMblog: How is IoT changing integration requirements? What new opportunities does IoT present for IT organizations?
Morton: The two primary questions that need to be
addressed are: "Where is your sensor/device data?" and "How to integrate
that data in a hybrid environment?" For example, if you think about the
evolution of where data typically resides, traditionally it was in
on-premises databases. Now, with hybrid in full adoption, data is
located in on-premises databases and in cloud databases and
applications. The industry understands how to integrate the data at
these locations, and what types of operations to perform against that
data depending on where the data resides and the amount of data. But
with IoT, data is now in new locations.
In a commercial IoT deployment,
it is very typical to have sensor/device data at the following four
tiers: on the device, on an IoT Gateway, on servers, and in clouds. For
integration, this means: new/different communication protocols, new data
models, new security standards, computational consumption for operating
on data based on the capabilities of the hardware where it resides
(i.e. performing edge analytics), decisions on what data to copy,
transform, and move, etc. Now you have to make integration decisions
based on what you need to achieve for each of these four tiers.
This change presents new opportunities for IT
organizations to innovate new business value. As much as I would claim
the importance of understanding your initial business problems or the
new business value you want to achieve in order to focus the execution
of an IoT strategy, I would follow this with the importance of
innovating new business value by integrating and correlating
device/sensor data with business data. This is where the next horizon
is. Once an IoT deployment is successful, IT organizations have the
opportunity to become innovation superstars with all the data at their
VMblog: What are the biggest surprises for organizations implementing an IoT strategy?
Morton: No one vendor provides a complete end-to-end
solution for implementing an IoT strategy. Some prominent providers are
trying to be a one-stop-shop solutions provider, but inevitably one of
the biggest surprises organizations implementing an IoT strategy will
encounter is the number of products they will need to obtain to achieve
their desired results. In addition, they face integration challenges and
the need to understand the different licensing and pricing models,
different compliance issues, different SLAs, etc.
VMblog: Where does Dell Boomi fit into the IoT landscape?
Morton: The timing of having real integration Platform
as-a Service (iPaaS) solutions perfectly aligns with the evolution of
the Internet of Things. Generating business value from IoT environments
is all about the data. An IoT solution must integrate data from devices,
gateways, servers, clouds, on-premises databases, on-premises
applications, cloud databases, cloud applications, cloud analytics, etc.
In order to manage this ever-changing hybrid data integration
landscape, companies must leverage an iPaaS.
A solution like Dell Boomi
provides a single platform that becomes the integration hub for all the
data used to run a business. This includes IoT-produced data and
business data. Whether it be to move data - for example to a data lake
or IoT cloud vendor - for the purpose of data analytics; or the need to
transform data from multiple vendors for the purpose of correlation and
data exchange or web service access to any data source; or integrating
IoT-produced data/results with business data and applications, Dell
Boomi helps businesses achieve their business-value goals.
VMblog: What predictions do you have over the next five to 10 years? Will we see more partnerships? Will there be strange bedfellows?
Morton: There is no question that anything related to IoT
right now is a startup mecca. In 5 to 10 years, there will be a lot of
acquisition activity as smaller vendors mature and find their high-value
niche and powerhouse vendors race to be an end-to-end IoT solutions
provider. Most of the partnerships that evolve will likely be because
IoT solutions require both specialized hardware and software, and very
few companies will attempt to offer both hardware (devices, gateways,
sensors, etc.) and complete software solutions.
Some partnerships will form because they make
sense, but others will form out of desperation for a business
transformation. Some unimagined partnerships will likely involve
telecommunications providers. Just think about your cable and mobile
phone providers. Like any business, they too need to transform and
expand, and they already own and control a lot of the network fabric
that is required for IoT in the commercial and residential space. Would
AT&T acquire National Instruments?
VMblog: Can I leverage some of my existing investments for IoT scenarios?
Morton: More than likely, yes. Although with IoT-centric
products comes features specialized for IoT, there will be some
fundamental and commonly used building blocks for an IoT platform.
Databases are a perfect example. If you already have an investment in
enterprise database technology, expanding that to accommodate your
on-premises data storage needs will be easy. If you are investing in an
iPaaS, then you already have a solution and the skills to incorporate
IoT data into your company's data integration strategy.
VMblog: What are some of the current integration challenges that make it difficult to produce business value?
Morton: The name of the game to generating business value
from IoT is the ability to mine a sea of data and confidently correlate
it to a desired business outcome in the time that you need it. So let's
take this loaded statement one step at a time. First, IoT environments
will generate a lot of data. Second, it will likely be data from a
landscape of heterogeneous vendor devices, many with different data
models, so a data transformation solution may be necessary. Next, you
will need to reliably obtain the right data from potentially many
sources (devices, gateways, database, etc.) concurrently. You will
likely need only a fraction of the data reported by a device, but from
many devices. And lastly, IoT is a living ecosystem of data, so data is
typically continuously being produced in IoT environments. You have to
take this into consideration when establishing a level of confidence to
make a business decision, such as automating the opening of a support
ticket in a cloud CRM system based the timeliness and completeness of
the response. Ultimately, the challenge is timely data integration in a
heterogeneous hybrid environment.
VMblog: What is the difference between a company IoT integration strategy vs. a line of business (LOB) IoT integration strategy?
Morton: Ordinarily, you think of a company defining a
corporate direction and mandating what products, solutions, vendors, and
partners will be used across the company for the typical reasons of
consistency, standards, economies of skills, pricing, etc. For the most
part, this has traditionally worked out fine, with your usual sprinkle
of distain for some products vs. others at a LOB level. But introducing
an IoT strategy into the mix makes things a bit more complicated. For
example, if a large manufacturing and retail company has one LOB that
wants to introduce an IoT strategy for warehouse inventory and energy
optimization, while another LOB wants to introduce a solution for
analyzing customer sentiment and behavior in their retail locations, the
IoT requirements will be quite diverse and require much different
hardware and software.
Each scenario will require unique devices,
sensors, and cameras, and each LOB should be left to make the best
decision on edge components (devices and gateways). However, at the end
of the day, whether it is a device or a user entering some information
on a company website, data is being produced, and ultimately that data
will be moved, copied, transformed, cleansed, and integrated with other
data. Although each LOB will have its own unique data integration needs
to produce the desired business outcomes, at the center of this should
be a common hybrid data integration solution. Therefore, I would contend
that whether it be at a company or LOB level, and regardless if the
data is IoT-produced data or traditional business-generated data, the
efficiencies to be gained by adopting a common iPaaS solution across the
company is paramount to moving the entire business forward.
Once again, a special thank you to Michael Morton, CTO of Dell Boomi, for taking time out to speak with VMblog.com.
About Michael Morton, CTO, Dell Boomi
Michael Morton is the Chief Technology Officer of Dell Boomi, where he
drives product direction and innovation. He has been leading and
producing a wide range of enterprise IT solutions for over 25 years.
Prior to joining Dell Boomi in 2013, Michael had an impressive career
with IBM, where he became an IBM Master Inventor and worked directly
with a number of Fortune 100 Companies. He was a founding developer and
Chief Architect of IBM WebSphere Application Server, providing
architecture leadership on the IBM InfoSphere data integration and IBM
Tivoli systems management family of products. Michael's experiences have
allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the complexities and
challenges that enterprise customers face when modernizing while
attempting to remain competitive in their industry.
earned a B.S. in Computer Science degree from the State University of
New York at Buffalo, and an M.S. in Computer Science degree from the
State University of New York at Binghamton.