18th October 2016 by GCI

What the heck really is the internet of things? The phrase itself means nothing to most people and those in the know, would probably call it something far geekier.

Well from when British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton first coined the term in 1999 it has evolved to mean the introduction of myriad of connectivity technologies, sensors, machine learning and embedded systems all working together. But is it really just marketing terminology gone mad? Your call?

To me (a self-confessed geek) it is awesome, this is about every electronic device having the ability to talk to every other electronic device over the internet.  The possibilities this could open up for both consumers and businesses alike are endless.

Take my internet of things morning…

  • I set the alarm on my phone to wake me in the morning (in this whole process, this is the only thing I have to do myself)
  • My phone then tells my coffee maker what time I am getting up.
  • My coffee maker starts making my coffee exactly 7 minutes before that, because I have told it I like my coffee to cool slightly before I drink it.
  • My coffee maker has already checked with my larder that I have coffee for today.
  • My larder checks with amazon and determines that delivery of coffee will be too late for tomorrow morning, and decides to order this on a drone delivery.
  • The coffee machine checks with the fridge.
  • Fridge has milk – Good!
  • Fridge reports that milk is slightly warmer than I like it and uses the time to boost the cooling to ensure the milk is exactly 8.333333°C
  • My shower has also been informed by my phone, and has switched-on and got to my pre-set temperature just in time for me to walk in.
  •  My coffee ready, I walk downstairs and pour the perfect brew before pouring my perfect milk in to it (I need some involvement!).
  • Turns out its cold today, so my phone has contacted my car and asked it to start the engine to warm the car and defrost the windows so I am ready to drive as soon as I have finished my coffee – which I have recorded on my personal profile as taking exactly 9 minutes.

This is my Internet of things, and only accounts for the few minutes before I leave the house to go to work in the morning.

Previously we had to cope with 4.2 billion IP addresses which shared around amongst a global population of 7.4 billion didn’t go very far. But the newest internet protocol IPv6 has taken us 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 IP addresses. For the less numerate, this 340 undecillion means that every atom in the human body could have its own IP address. So this is now more than enough for everyone to have a connected coffee machine, larder, car, fridge, washing machine and phone.

The Managed Service Provider Opportunity

Internet of things is cool as a consumer, but what does this mean for a managed service provider? As just one small example; consider a vending machine provider who has 20,000 vending machines around the country. Currently the only way he has to tell if he needs to re-stock a vending machine is to send the “person in a van” to check.

Now imagine that each vending machine has a cost-effective DSL connection, and this constantly reports back to the stock system exactly how many units it has. The stock system can look for trends, analyse stock, and use “Just in Time” methodology to ensure each machine receives its stock when it needs it with fewer visits.

This sounds good, but the vending company is becoming reliant on this now.

This is a good solution and is saving said vending company pots of cash, but it is actually so vital now that outage on a DSL service will cause issues.

The Internet of things answer…

Resilience and reliability is the answer. When systems become critical we can start to layer additional technology on top to provide technology and media diversity to ensure business continuation. One way to achieve this may be to add private 3G or 4G backup connections so that our backup traffic can takes a completely diverse route back to the datacentre.

As a managed service provider we can also add other services such as satellite and Ethernet over Fibre; which all add value to what originally looked to be a simple DSL solution.

This is a really great opportunity to embrace what we can do in this changing landscape, and yes margins may be pushed on this mass scale, but the scale certainly makes it worth the effort.

Over and out – my washing machine just texted me to say I need to put the laundry out because it’s a sunny day and it should dry in approximately 2.5 hours.

Author: Rob Quirke is Pre-sales Technical Consultant at GCI

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