On Jan. 7, 2014, Cisco CEO John Chambers came onstage at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. His keynote? According to Forbes, Chambers asserted that the Internet of Everything (IoE) will be “bigger than anything done in high tech in a decade,” representing billions in efficiency savings.
The Internet of Everything (IoE) has made significant strides from concept to business reality over the last five years, but is it really as disruptive (and potentially lucrative) as Chambers believes?
The Internet of Everything Explained
Technology mainstay IBM notes that a “global data field” has emerged over the last century. Natural processes, human interactions and electronic devices all produce continuous streams of data, but collection and analysis of these data has only been made possible in the last few years, thanks to developments in microchip, UPC and other network technologies. Companies are now finding ways to link common physical objects to a kind of supernetwork known as the Internet of Everything. The potential here is for everything in a home or an office — no matter how small — to transmit data, which can then be analyzed in real time.
The Internet of Everything in Everyday Life
The natural place for companies to start using IoE technology is in the manufacturing process. If individual components and finished products are tracked at each stage of fabrication, businesses can more easily detect bottlenecks and thus appropriately divert resources. This transparent, connected manufacturing process also benefits consumers, who can see the progression of an item, from component pieces to delivery at their doorstep.
Governments are also getting involved with IoE. The New York Times mentions cities like San Francisco and Boston, which leverage IoE solutions to detect available public parking spaces and report road conditions.
The City by the Bay uses real-time sensors to monitor which parking spaces are available; commuters can view free spots using a mobile app, and the city adjusts prices according to demand. Boston, meanwhile, uses an app called StreetBump, which lets residents use accelerometers in their smartphones to detect and report the locations of bumps and potholes.
Onstage at CES, John Chambers brought out Antoni Vives, the deputy mayor of Barcelona. Vives talked about the $58 million his city saves each year through smart water regulation and about the 47,000 jobs created, thanks to the Internet of Everything. But Cisco’s CEO warns this kind of change can’t happen without the right IT backbone — one that is simple to use and dramatically faster than current offerings and offers seamless integration of apps and networking.
IPv6 Is the Foundation for the Internet of Everything
If that seems like a tall order, it is. According to a position paper from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), one essential starting point is Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6. This protocol was developed to replace the aging IPv4 standard and increase the number of available IP addresses, which ran out in February 2011. In addition, the protocol provides enhanced security standards and is described by the IEEE as “the most suitable technology for the Internet of Things, since it offers scalability, flexibility, tested, extended, ubiquitous, open, and end-to-end connectivity.”
And as noted by Government Technology, IPv6 not only provides individual IP addresses for the estimated 50 billion mobile devices that will be globally active by 2020 but also offers improved communication interoperability. In other words, IPv6 support is essential for the Internet of Everything.
Making the Most of the Internet of Everything
Cisco’s CEO sees the Internet of Everything having five to 10 times the impact of the entire Internet revolution thus far. Tapping into Chambers’ predicted revenue opportunity means starting from the ground up — businesses need to talk with Internet service providers (ISPs) and web hosts to see who supports IPv6, and to what extent. Hosts like Lunarpages have committed to IPv6 compatibility for clients, helping to make the Internet of Everything transition easier.
The flow of data never stops. Intelligent collection and analysis offer huge potential savings, as long as companies start with the right infrastructure.