The outstanding expansion of the IoT landscape
The Atos Experts Convention in Madrid in September was a packed event with over 400 top Atos experts, our sponsoring technology partners, and selected start-ups in attendance. It was great to attend it, learn through the various sessions, and exchange with experts across the board. As mentioned in my previous blog post, I hosted the Technology Trends and Insights panel on stage covering Internet of Things (IoT) and Edge.
Four experts in this field addressed my questions and exchanged between themselves in a very exciting session. Felipe Padilla from Hitachi Ventara and Jordi Esbri from IDM were the IoT and Edge experts and Fabien Adouani from IDQuantique and Marc Badia from Atos focused on Security across distributed networks.
There was consensus across the panelists around the fact that the future will put IoT and Edge architectures in the center stage of de-centralized infrastructures. The transfer of intelligence to the Edge of the networks in conjunction with a higher density of smart devices will require adaptions on how AI operates and will require larger processing power at the edge and in the devices. As the IoT devices permeate the enterprise environment, we will observe an explosion in quantities leading to swarm computing, where devices actively collaborate and to an extreme to dust computing with miniaturized omni-present devices.
All of this outstanding expansion of the IoT landscape will not be possible without advances in technology to improve processing capabilities and optimize power consumption at the devices level. The other key enabler is the transport infrastructure. Today, cellular and LAN technologies compete to provide low powered infrastructures and reach to IoT. With the advent of 5G, the potential is there to make it the prevalent transport/infrastructure for IoT.
Security is no longer an afterthought in such solution landscapes. The software architectures and implementation for Edge servers, IoT gateway applications, and IoT devices are created with security in mind. There are severe ramifications for a system that is vulnerable, affecting lives and business operational capabilities in case of hacker attacks. The team discussed them up to a point of debating quantum-safe cryptography on a chip, which is being offered by technology companies in the business. Nothing better than knowing that your IoT solution will not be overpowered by quantum and generate havoc around it.
One teasing question was about how the team sees IoT / Edge evolving in the next 5 years. A little futurology but based on current state of technology and panelist expertise. A few areas expected to improve significantly is the processing decentralization (80/20 rule – 80% of decision making happening on the Edge), which will gain momentum, the standardization (currently each vendor has its own APIs) between IoT gateways and devices, and the amount of processing on the Edge. Atos recently launched its Edge solution and the expectation is that Edge servers will be more and more powerful to attend the AI/ML requirements on the Edge.
A final conclusion is that, as usual, technology advances fast but adoption takes time. Customers have been actively seeking proof of concepts and pilot projects, but they are more conservative in order to make an investment decision. Better consulting capabilities and ROI tools are required to demonstrate the value and return of Edge/IoT investment by the customers.
It was a great expert convention overall and I was very pleased to moderate the technology panel. I am sure our experts acquired valuable insights, expanded their knowledge with further research, and are applying them in their daily jobs around the Atos group.