Will we have the IoUT (Internet of Useful Things? As some have said, the IoS (Internet of Sh**e) is really what we have because of the poorly built, poorly secured hardware and software devices. It seems that almost every month I see new devices introduced in the consumer space, most of which aren’t well designed for widespread use, and certainly aren’t very durable. There are, of course, exceptions, including a few I’d like, but for the most part, the rush to market means that many of the IoT devices sold aren’t much better than most of the home built Kickstarter projects. That’s not to say Kickstarter (or Indiegogo or any other site) doesn’t produce good products, just that some aren’t.
We’ve got an infographic from Website Guide today that you can examine. It’s an interesting item, which is why I published it. There are a lot of great possible applications for IoT style devices. Plenty of businesses and industries are seeing the benefits of using sensors and devices that are (semi-) smart and connected to a network. Using well written applications, companies can come up with new ways of gathering and using information. When these systems are well designed, this can result in lower costs, higher sales (or usage), happier customers, or all three.
As you scroll down the infographic, you’ll see the dark side of IoT, which is getting more press all the time. Security is the number one concern, as far, far too many devices don’t include the necessary security to protect either the device or the end user. I did watch an IoT demo at Live!360 last year using the Azure IoT hub, and was glad there was some authentication and ability to shut down devices that might be compromised or misbehaving, but far too many IoT systems aren’t well secured.
That’s disconcerting for me as a database professional. I expect that more and more companies will use IoT in some way. I’d even like to find time for some IoT sensors around the ranch, tracking horses and ensuring they’re all walking around every day. The thing that concerns me is what happens when someone finds ways to hijack or hack a device? Even sensors could be hijacked. What if you’re processing temperature information in dynamic SQL and someone decides to heat and cool the sensor to create certain values? Are you sure your database isn’t vulnerable?
These concerns leave out the potential for the misuse of any data that’s collected about users, especially if users aren’t aware of what’s being collected and its use. With so many ways of collecting data now, I’m not even sure that anyone has a good handle on all the data collected about them, not to mention how it’s being stored, secured, and used.
I think there’s incredible potential for some great IoT applications and data in the future. All the forecasts and spending seem to point towards the next 5-10 years being a period where there will be an explosion of the number of types devices built and deployed. Those devices will produce a tremendous amount of data for us to manage in databases. We will have big challenges in storing, indexing, managing streams, and certainly, the pruning of old data.