If It Only Had a Brain – How the “Internet of Things” Will Feed Cloud Computing’s Next Evolution
|By David Canellos
PerspecSys President and CEO
“When objects can both sense the environment and communicate, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it swiftly. What’s revolutionary in all this is that these physical information systems are now beginning to be deployed, and some of them even work largely without human intervention.” (McKinsey & Company, 2010)
Over 5B wireless connectivity chips will ship in 2013, according to ABI Research. Today, there are roughly two Internet-connected devices for every person on the planet. Most of those chips will be in tablets, sensors, cameras and even light bulbs or refrigerators. Increasingly most get connected to the Internet. Over the next decade, most of the connected device growth will come from very small sensors that are primarily doing machine-to-machine communications and acting as the digital nerve endings for highly dynamic global sense-and-respond systems. By 2025, analysts are forecasting that this ratio of Internet-connected devices per human will surpass six. This means we can expect to grow to nearly 50B Internet-connected devices in the next decade.
Driven by a revolution in technology, for the first time, we have the ability to create a central nervous system on our planet. This sensor technology will allow us to measure systems on a global scale and at the same time offer a never before seen array of intelligent services.
Whether it is Smart Cities, e-Health and Assisted Living, Intelligent Manufacturing, Smart Logistics and Transport, or Smart Metering, 21st century machines are now sensing, anticipating, and responding to our needs; and we can control them remotely. We cannot have a policy or create the impression that the Internet of Things would create an Orwellian world. Our goal, and our commitment, should be to create a vision that focuses on providing real value for people.” Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
This promise is what generates excitement about these inter-connected sensor data networks. If successful, they will help us solve some of the biggest problems facing our society.
The Role of Cloud Computing
It’s my belief that the real innovation will come from combining Cloud Computing and the Internet of Things. As all these interactions between Internet devices occur, large volumes of data will be generated. This data will be easily captured and stored, but it needs to be transformed into valuable knowledge and actionable intelligence – this is where the real power of the cloud kicks in. Systems in the cloud will be used to (a) transform data to insight and (b) drive productive, cost-effective actions from these insights. Through this process, the cloud effectively serves as the brain to improve decision-making and optimization for Internet-connected interactions.
Cloud computing can provide the virtual infrastructure for such utility computing integrating applications, monitoring devices, storage devices, analytics tools, visualization platforms, and client delivery. The cost-based model that Cloud Computing offers will enable businesses and users to access applications on demand – anytime, anyplace and anywhere.
Data Protection Challenges
With the intersection of the Internet of Things and Cloud Computing, protecting personal privacy becomes an essential and necessary condition. How to ensure information security and privacy is an important issue that must be addressed and resolved in the development of the Internet of Things. People will resist the ubiquitous free flow of information if there is no public confidence that it will not cause serious threats to privacy.
The intelligence and integrated nature of Internet of Things raises serious concerns over individual privacy in the new environment of smart devices and objects. Universal connectivity through Internet access exacerbates the problem because, unless special mechanisms are considered (encryption, authentication, etc.), personally identifiable information (PII) may become uncontrollably exposed.
Data Protection Solutions
In order to remove barriers to the Internet of Things and the Cloud, the technology industry (and enterprises deploying and using these technologies) needs to embrace the basic principles of protecting personal privacy, including the management, storage and processing of all sensitive information. Legislation will continue to evolve in an attempt to deal with these issues and sector specific industry bodies will produce regulations that provide guidelines and best practices to Security and Privacy practitioners. And security technologies will surely continue to advance to ensure that these regulations can be complied with in the most effective and efficient ways possible. In the middle of it all will be IT and Security professionals, and their technology partners, who will have the challenge of managing not only the threats of data leakage and identity theft, but also growing consumer and employee concerns about data privacy. I’m proud to be leading PerspecSys and of the role our company is positioned to play in making this new world possible.
“The protection of private data often referred to as personally identifiable information (PII) is the responsibility of both organizations and individuals,” says Marc Vael, international vice president of ISACA. “Organizations need to ensure that PII is managed and protected throughout its life cycle by having a governance strategy and good processes in place. Individuals must think before they provide their PII to a third party, your bank is very different to an offshore gambling website. People need to be aware of the value of the information they are providing and assess if they can trust whom they are giving it to. Data protection, involves improving people’s awareness, using best-of-breed technology and deploying sound business processes.” He continues, “The consumerization of IT, confidentiality of location-based information, privacy-by-design, and an increase in legislative and regulatory mandates that will drive more privacy audits are among the top 2013 trends in data privacy that ISACA anticipates will need to be addressed.”
PerspecSys Cloud Data Protection
The PerspecSys Cloud Data Protection Gateway gives enterprises and public-sector organizations total control over their sensitive data – enabling them to use popular cloud applications from companies like Oracle and Salesforce.com, while still meeting strict legal and industry compliance requirements. Using patent-pending technology, the PerspecSys Gateway intercepts sensitive data while it is still on-premise and replaces it with a random tokenized or strongly encrypted value, rendering it meaningless should anyone hack the data while it is in transit, processed or stored in the cloud. In addition, the PerspecSys solution offers the differentiated ability to preserve cloud application functionality – even when the data is tokenized or strongly encrypted – using National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) listed FIPS 140-2 compliant modules. With PerspecSys, end users have access to features and functions such as ability to do standard and complex searches on data, send e-mails, and generate reports – even though the sensitive data is no longer in the cloud application.
PerspecSys Inc. is a leading provider of cloud data security and SaaS security solutions that remove the technical, legal and financial risks of placing sensitive company data in the cloud. PerspecSys accomplishes this for many large, heavily regulated companies by never allowing sensitive data to leave a customer’s network, while maintaining the functionality of cloud applications. Based in Toronto, PerspecSys Inc. is a privately held company backed by investors that include Intel Capital and GrowthWorks.