Identity in the Internet of Things

A while back I touched on the Internet of Things in the article  The reason BTL was Nationalized? and today I bring you this article that goes a bit further to explain the Identity of things in the Internet of Things. Basically, how they can use the infrastructure together with things like “mandatory registration of your cell phones” to keep tabs on anything or anybody.

Analysts discuss the identity of everything as related to Internet of Things, concerns about cloud security and why SDN needs a solid business case to evolve successfully.

Earl Perkins, research vice president at Gartner Inc., offers a fresh perspective on the Internet of Things (IoT). Perkins suggests that rather than focusing on how things can be connected to the Internet, people should be focusing on the identity of things. He says developers should focus on the relationships between businesses, people and objects first and then figure out how the technology can reflect these relationships. He uses an example of a car to explain how a person is connected to an enterprise when he signs a contract to purchase a car and is simultaneously linked to the car he buys. While Perkins says the idea can be a bit confusing, it will unfold further. Perkins says a fundamental component of the identity of things is a transformation in identity management, which will help fuel the growth of the IoT.

Read more of Perkins’ explanation about the identity of things.

The network doesn’t need SDN, at least from a business perspective

While there is a lot of talk about software defined networking (SDN) and the benefits it may provide to networking, not everyone thinks it’s a logical next step– at least from a business perspective. VirtualizedGeek blogger Keith Townsend says that even though SDN is an innovative technology, it’s not necessarily a business-worthy concept. Because the current networking model of getting data from one point to another is working just fine, a business aspect must be found to support the pitch for SDN. Townsend compares it to VoIP. Before there was a business desire to have instant messaging, conferencing and video, VoIP was not a necessary service. After prospective customers saw the benefits of collaborative business applications that spun out of VoIP, the protocol became a necessity. Overall, says Townsend, SDN should be part of the argument for a new networking model, but not the main point.

IT should focus on the user, not the technology

Enterprise Management Associates blogger Dennis Drogseth says it’s time for a fundamental change in the way people view IT management. Drogseth writes that many IT professionals are focused on system management as opposed to business service management. To that end, there should be more of a focus on the interpersonal relations with the people whom IT teams serve. In other words, IT is not merely an operational team that focuses on complex technical issues, but it is a group of people who should also be prioritizing user experience management. Among the benefits a user-focused IT approach yields, according to an EMA survey: a more positive business impact and business outcomes, proactive application performance management and a better understanding of service usage for costs and portfolio planning. As he writes, “In contrast, if/when IT can recast its attentions beyond ‘systems management’ toward a deeper set of insights into the personalities, behaviors and business-related consequences of the customers it serves –then IT will have crossed the user-experience management footbridge to the other side of the 21st century cultural chasm.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet.

A thing, in the Internet of Things, can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low — or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network. So far, the Internet of Things has been most closely associated with machine-to-machine (M2M) communication in manufacturing and power, oil and gas utilities. Products built with M2M communication capabilities are often referred to as being smart. (See: smart label, smart meter, smart grid sensor)

IPv6’s huge increase in address space is an important factor in the development of the Internet of Things. According to Steve Leibson, who identifies himself as “occasional docent at the Computer History Museum,” the address space expansion means that we could “assign an IPV6 address to every atom on the surface of the earth, and still have enough addresses left to do another 100+ earths.” In other words, humans could easily assign an IP address to every “thing” on the planet. An increase in the number of smart nodes, as well as the amount of upstream data the nodes generate, is expected to raise new concerns about data privacy, data sovereignty and security.

Although the concept wasn’t named until 1999, the Internet of Things has been in development for decades. The first Internet appliance, for example, was a Coke machine at Carnegie Melon University in the early 1980s. The programmers could connect to the machine over the Internet, check the status of the machine and determine whether or not there would be a cold drink awaiting them, should they decide to make the trip down to the machine.

Kevin Ashton, cofounder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, first mentioned the Internet of Things in a presentation he made to Procter & Gamble. Here’s how Ashton explains the potential of the Internet of Things:

“Today computers — and, therefore, the Internet — are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code.

The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy — all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things — using data they gathered without any help from us — we would be able to track and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling and whether they were fresh or past their best.”

Dr. John Barrett explains the Internet of Things in his TED talk:

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