Endpoint Management Key to Unlocking the Internet of Things (IoT)

April 06, 2015  By Ian van Reenen
First, a brief word about the Internet of Things
We are hearing a lot about the Internet of Things (IoT) these days and while it’s exciting to think one day your refrigerator will be smart enough to know what you want before you do, IoT will change the technology landscape as we know. Technology service providers need to pay attention to IoT when considering the future of their IT service delivery.
In simple terms, the IoT includes any technology that can be used to collect information and manage systems. The IoT is generally seen as a collection of single purpose devices that are connected to the Internet. This has historically excluded smart devices such as laptops, servers and mobile phones. However, the emergence of embeddable micro-computers, such as the Edison from Intel, has opened up the possibility of intelligence everywhere, where all devices are smart, multipurpose and self-aware – and therefore require management.  
Every Device Matters
Unless you have visibility and control of all of your devices – regardless of location or network – then you can’t be certain that everything is as it should be. IoT platforms are the convergence of remote management and monitoring (RMM), endpoint management and big data, and you need to be able to manage this ecosystem.
As is the case with everyday servers, laptops, tablets and phones, the effectiveness and performance of the IoT will come down to the reliable monitoring and management of the underlying devices and systems. Gartner estimates there are currently 1.4 billion computing platforms worldwide, and yet project this to grow to 20 billion by 2020 with the advent of the IoT – an incredible rate of growth. The challenge of keeping that number of devices running is not a technical one – but one of scale.

Ensuring that devices and systems are working correctly, and fixed or replaced when they are not, is going to require scalable, secure and reliable platforms to provide real-time performance monitoring of the myriad of devices that will supply, and act on the data produced by IoT systems.
Big Data and IoT – Joining Forces for Good?     
The real IoT is down at the machine level, where data is exchanged between connected devices and decisions are made automatically, based on pre-determined thresholds and process logic. Here are two examples: In parts of London, motorists can pay for metered parking with their smartphones and get notifications when their time is about to expire. Dutch company Sparked is embedding transmitters in the ears of cows to monitor their health and prevent the spread of disease. To make this happen, these systems rely on data in order to automate their actions. This data is either in real-time, supplied by sensors, or based on historical data that must be stored and analyzed. This is where big data comes into play. But who owns this data? Who has access to it? How long can it be stored? will be the subject of many debates as the IoT evolves. Should your health insurance company be able to monitor the contents of your fridge in return for lower premiums? Or, to optimize your heating bill should your energy company monitor your movements? These types of dilemmas are fast approaching and if we are going to have confidence in their compliance, then we better have confidence in the quality of the data they will base their decisions on.
Autotask is hosting a Twitter chat on Thursday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. ET to further discuss these IoT topics. Don’t miss out, register here.
Ian van Reenen
Vice President of Engineering, Endpoint Products
Ian is responsible for driving Autotask’s endpoint management product roadmap, development and delivery at Autotask.
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