LIVE FROM COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE: A new approach is required for the Internet of Things (IoT) to be secure and scalable enough to handle the hundreds of billions of devices that will be connected over the next decade, claimed Rob van den Dam, IBM’s global telecoms industry leader.
Van den Dam argued during his presentation at the event today that IoT needs a reboot and must be redesigned for radically lower costs, real privacy and sustainable business models. “Otherwise, it won’t be in a position to scale up to billions of devices that are coming.”
IDC and Gartner are both forecasting connected devices to reach 26-28 billion by 2020.
Van den Dam noted that the first IoT wave is already here, which includes things like the continuous monitoring of jet engines and automated smart metering.
But he claimed demand has been slow to take off in other industries, with just 30 per cent of heavy industry equipment networked and 10 per cent of smart TVs used for internet viewing.
A major factor will be the high cost of supporting and maintaining tens of billion of smart devices. He said that previously there has always been a balance between revenue and costs, but that is no longer true in many cases and what the customer is willing to pay is declining, which of course impacts margins.
And he noted that while the lifecycle of smart devices is shrinking – just 18 to 36 months – the average life of IoT devices like cars, appliances, machinery and homes will be at least a decade.
There is also the growing issue of privacy. In the post-Snowden era the internet is no longer a place of trust and there are no trusted partners, he said. “Centralised authorities have become single points of failure.”
He said that to a large extent profits have remained elusive because of broken business models.
To be secure and scalable the IoT will need to evolve to be more open and decentralised, he said. “The current model is open access to IoT networks, with a centralised cloud. We need to move to open access IoT networks, with a distributed cloud.”
Devices need to be autonomous, he said, which means they must be connected to the edge of the network. And the industry needs to move to distributed file sharing to improve security and privacy.
“It’s important to realise that not every system needs to be centralised. By empowering devices to function autonomously, the edge of the network will become a frontier of new economic value, creating an economy of things,” he said.