09/23/2016 03:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The IoT and Big Data: Making The Connection


The future of technology lies in data and its analysis. More objects and devices are now connected to the Internet, transmitting the information they gather back for analysis. The goal is to harness this data to learn about patterns and trends that can be used to make a positive impact on our health, transportation, energy conservation, and lifestyle. However, the data itself doesn't produce these objectives, but rather it's solutions that arise from analyzing it and finding the answers we need.

Two terms that have been discussed in relation to this future: big data and The Internet of Things (IoT); It's hard to talk about one without the other, and although they are not the same thing, the two practices are closely intertwined.

Let's take a closer look at the two practices before we examine their connection:

Big Data

Big data has existed long before the IoT burst out into the scene to perform analytics; information is defined as big data when it demonstrates the 4 V's: volume, variety, velocity, and veracity. This equates to a massive quantity of data that can be both structured and unstructured, while velocity refers to the speed of data processing, and veracity determines its uncertainty.

The Internet of Things

The concept of IoT aims to take a wide range of "things" and turn them into smart objects -- anything from watches to fridges, cars and train tracks. Products that normally wouldn't be connected to the Internet and able to obtain and process data, are equipped with sensors and computer chips for data gathering. However, unlike chips used in PCs, smartphones, and mobile devices, these chips are used mostly for gathering data that indicates customer usage patterns and product performance.

The IoT is essentially the means that collects and sends data. Information from IoT devices resides in big data and is measured against it. And IoT will soon touch every aspect of our lives: transportation (cars, smart train tracks and traffic lights), manufacturing, Smart Homes (thermostats and voice activated appliances), and of course -- consumer goods such as smartphones, wearables, and more.

Bringing the two practices together

This disruptive technology requires new infrastructures, including hardware and software applications, as well as an operating system; enterprises will need to deal with the influx of data that starts flowing in and analyze it in real-time as it grows by the minute.

That's where big data comes in; big data analytics tools are capable of handling masses of data transmitted from IoT devices that produce a continuous stream of information.

But just to differentiate the two, the IoT delivers the information from which big data analytics can draw the information to create the insights required of it.

However, the IoT brings data on a different scale, so the analytics solution should accommodate its needs of rapid ingestion and processing followed by an accurate and fast extraction.
Solutions like SQream Technologies deliver near real-time analytics on massive sized datasets, and essentially condense a full-rack database into a small server processing up to 100TB, so minimal hardware is required. The next generation analytics database leverages GPU technology, allowing an even further downsizing of the hardware, i.e. big database in the car, or 5 TB on a laptop. This helps IoT companies correlate the growing number of data sets, which helps them get real-time responses and adapt to changing trends, solving the size challenge without compromising on the performance.

The challenges

By 2020, it is projected that 20.8 billion "things" will be used globally, as the Internet of Things continues its expansion; as a result, we will also see major cybersecurity issues and safety concerns arise, as cybercriminals could potentially break into the power grid, into traffic systems, and any other connected system that contains sensitive data that can shut down cities.

Internet security platforms like Zscaler offer IoT devices protection against security breaches with a cloud based solution. You can route the traffic through the platform and set policies for the devices so they won't communicate with unnecessary servers.

The Internet of Things and big data share a closely knitted future. There is no doubt the two fields will create new opportunities and solutions that will have a long and lasting impact.