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The Internet of Many Different Things – Are We There Yet?

by Vikram Mehta, Chief Executive Officer, Kaazing

vikram-mehtaPer my earlier blog post, no matter whose research you believe, there is no arguing that the years ahead will see an explosion in the number of “Things” that can and will connect to the Internet – all with the good intention of making our world a better place.

Let’s step back for a moment to take a wide-angle view of the IoT landscape. Today, we live in a Web Wide World where Internet-connected devices are increasingly vital to our lives, business and society. The conventional request-response protocol of the old ‘walkie-talkie’ Web gets in the way of mobile apps, low-latency communications and high-speed enterprise messaging. KAAZING is fixing that problem with event-driven, real-time and right-time Web Communications for the coming billions of Internet-connected things.

Quite simply, the faster we can help enterprises make the move to help Kaazing accelerate the Web for all the Internet-connected Things, the better we all will like it! Despite advances in discrete technology and our desire to move rapidly to this new and better world full of machines communicating with other machines (M2M), humans communicating with other humans (P2P), and humans communicating with machines (P2M), the underlying communications infrastructure, legacy enterprise systems, applications, and everything surrounding an enterprise’s IT infrastructure are holding us back.

Picture a gigantic freeway system that serves as a means to get you from point A to point B safely, on-time, every time, at any time of the day, at any day of the week, and any week of the year. Now what if I told you that this freeway had an on/off-ramp every few hundred yards and that traffic wanting to use this freeway was doubling every week? To make matters worse, what if I added that the incidence of breakdowns and accidents was on the rise? What would it be like to use this freeway everyday to commute to and from work, for the rest of your working career?

Everything about the Infobahn (the Internet), from the underlying protocol used by the entire World Wide Web. (HTTP) to discrete infrastructure like firewalls, proxies, and Web front-ends of application servers, creates the same effect as I described in the preceding paragraph. Now 24 years old, it would not be an exaggeration to say that HTTP – unidirectional, slow, laden with considerable overhead, and inefficient – is perhaps the single biggest barrier keeping us from getting to the $14-15 trillion treasure trove described earlier in this blog.

As Kaazing Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer John Fallows likes to put it – and yes he’s rather droll:

“Humankind is Homo Duplex, equipped with a two-way brain and highly adept at full-duplex processing – talking while simultaneously listening, for example. The current Web, however, thanks to the historical assumption that online services should only speak when they are spoken to, is conspicuously only half-duplex.”

Since, in the IoT world, the Web is going to be shared by 50 billion+ “Different Things” that are always-on, always-connected and always trying to communicate, it needs to be full-duplex, secure, scalable and fast.

However, HTTP, the language of the Internet of today, is like the telegraph network of the 1800s – unidirectional, slow, laden with considerable overhead, and inefficient. This is because it was designed to serve up static information in response to requests for such information. It was never designed to be continuously communicating your vitals and keeping your doctor informed in real time; and it was not designed to give your doctor the ability to push a message to your Internet-connected wrist watch that reads – “your heart is experiencing extreme stress; please take an Aspirin and lie down immediately; paramedics are 20 seconds away.”

Seventeen million people die each year of Cardio Vascular Disorder (CVD). One of the promises of how IoT is going to make life better for everyone is providing such at-risk individuals a “Connected Care” service that allows them to go about their lives as they usually do, while having the peace of mind that the Internet-based Connected Care service they subscribe to will ensure that they always get timely, predictive medical assistance. In the United States alone, for example, approximately 26 million people who have been diagnosed with heart disease could benefit from such a service.

Vital statistics for 26 million human beings transmitted over the Internet 24×7 and event-driven alerts coming back to the 26 million subscribers – all over the Internet! Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Doing all this over a network that behaves much like a telegraph network of the 1800s – now there is a sobering dose of reality.

In an IoT world, the Internet will be shared by 24-50 billion “Different Things” (a number far greater than what’s connected via the Internet today); always on, always connected and always communicating.

As a subscriber to a Connected Care service how would you be sure that your doctor can message you reliably, securely, and at IoT speed on your Internet-connected SmartWatch if a remote review of your vitals tips him off that you’re about to suffer a coronary event that could permanently damage the valves and muscles in your heart. As things stand today, his message might come too late…or simply never get to you!

Now, how much surer would you feel if I said that some day there could be as many as 340 undecillion (340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) Things sharing the Infobahn at the same time that your doctor was trying to get a vital message to you before permanent damage is caused to your heart?

___

Next blog, I’ll be taking a look at how the technology industry typically approaches Internet, Web and Enterprise Communications challenges.


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