The Internet of Things is “the Cloud”. The notion that every sensor imaginable will eventually be connected to processing and storage resources by an embedded Internet/micro-controller will require an expansion of Internet server farms by several orders of magnitude. Just as video-on-demand forced Internet bandwidth to increase by 100 times, the Internet-of-Things will force even greater expansion over what we have today. The “Cloud” represents massive computer resources that can be “leased” and billed by usage to to individuals and companies.
Proliferation of smart devices like cellphones and tablet computers creates demand for more internet bandwidth at the rate of roughly 2.3 billion new devices a year according to the market research firm Gartner, Inc. That’s a lot of bandwidth. That’s a lot of IP addresses. Will we run out?
These may be thin clients with very limited “on” time with respect to network usage, but it is hard to imagine the kind of computing resources needed to support it. How will each sector evolve it’s particular requirements? Will industrial manufacturing concerns be comfortable with this approach, or is it only for the “information” layer of the business. Will hospitals be able monitor and serve up patient biometrics and records with absolute accuracy and security?
Enter the Cloud. Massively large computer farms that can sell computational and storage resources on demand. Users can own their own peripherals like displays, keyboards, flash drives and interface devices, but not software or network capacity. The benefits are compelling. Reduced cost of hardware investment, decreased cost of software investment, no maintenance, and depending on the support plan, a pay-as-you-go approach to using resources.
Production of Electricity across the US requires the ability to dynamically load balance large complex networks that have constantly changing loads and resources available. Is the Cloud the answer to solving this problem? Will we be able to write algorithms of control that will sense conditions and automatically and reliably take actions, open and close switches, reverse polarity on the charging circuit of the electric car in your garage? Regulate the amount of power available to run your home air conditioner?
This gets a little crazy. Where the technology becomes available, the solution to big problems is less about the technology than it is about the social issues of decision making and cooperation. Where do the rights of an individual end and the rights of “the Grid”, for example, begin?
We need a forum, we need open dialog and we need time for these issues to be considered and worked through. Otherwise decisions will be made by entities with whom we have little in common, and once implemented, there will be little chance of making changes.