Overview of IoT
Currently, there are over 14 billion IoT devices in the market today. It’s estimated that by 2030, this number will skyrocket to a whopping 25 billion IoT devices.
IoT (or the Internet of Things) is the promising technology behind smart cars, smart home electronic appliances, the agri-tech industry, and more.
As the name suggests, the internet is quintessential to IoT technology. More specifically, the server storage and real-time data processing that enables physical devices to communicate with electronics over the internet form the backbone of an efficient IoT system.
What is IoT cloud?
The IoT cloud combines IoT sensors within a system with cloud technology, providing a range of benefits to IoT systems. It functions as an online platform for configuring and monitoring devices that have embedded IoT sensors.
Essentially, it enables the development and deployment of applications that utilize IoT devices by serving as a vast cloud infrastructure.
In interconnected systems, IoT systems generate substantial amounts of data, which undergo further processing to unlock the potential benefits of this technology.
IoT cloud is, therefore, an internet-based cloud service that stores data from IoT devices and uses them as per the user’s requirements and applications by following certain standards and protocols.
It analyzes users’ behavior and optimizes gadget/equipment (fitted with IoT) operational requirements.
Importance of the cloud in IoT
The cloud helps in sorting, storing, analyzing, computing, and using the huge data gathered gainfully in various other ways. It also provides functions like analyzing, interpreting, and manipulating this data. Thus, opting for cloud services eliminates the extensive hardware and recurring expenditure on the maintenance of data storage devices.
Let’s take the case of wearables like smartwatches. Users can get the required data regarding their health parameters like heartbeat, calorie counts, sleep quality, etc., and alerts for their exercise schedule. They can also get suggestions to improve their bodily functions.
The integration of IoT and cloud services add innumerable value to the customers as well as industries for automation of services. With the minimization of efforts, it provides the comfort of operation from anywhere at any time.
Types of cloud in IoT
There are four major types of clouds in IoT:
Private — fully dedicated to a single user; examples include Cloud Manager, IBM Cloud Managed services, etc.
Public — available to anyone on demand; examples include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, etc.
Hybrid — a mix of public and private cloud depending on the user’s requirement; examples include Google Anthos, Azure Stack, etc.
Multi — a distributed heterogeneous world of the cloud; examples include Google Drive, Azure, etc.
Common IoT cloud platforms
Some popular and common IoT cloud platforms are IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services.
Is IoT cloud the same as IT cloud?
It’s common to mix up the terms “IoT cloud” and “IT cloud,” but it’s crucial to recognize that they carry distinct meanings and represent two separate entities.
The IT cloud pertains to the cloud infrastructure or data storage backup supporting various IT services and operations. On the other hand, the IoT cloud specifically involves the storage, computation, and retrieval of data generated by IoT sensors, enabling efficient operation and analysis for future utilization.
While both clouds are involved in data storage, it’s important to note that the origin of the data and the operations conducted on it differ significantly between the two.
Key components of IoT cloud
Depending on the goals of an IoT system, there are several essential components that make up the IoT cloud. Let’s explore some of the most prevalent ones.
These devices gather and transmit data from various gadgets or equipment. Commonly used sensors include thermostats, temperature sensors, pressure sensors, moisture sensors, and light-intensity sensors.
This system facilitates a bi-directional data flow between different networks and protocols, ensuring interoperability among connected devices and sensors. Think of it as a physical device that connects sensors, IoT modules, and smart devices to the cloud.
It serves as a wireless access portal, granting IoT devices access to internet services.
In the context of IoT, the cloud refers to a virtual space that serves as an imaginary place for storing vast amounts of digital data. It involves data manipulation, including mathematical and other operations, as well as data retrieval when needed. You can physically accomplish this through an interconnected array of servers accessible via the internet.
Utilizing the cloud reduces the need for extensive storage space within the user’s domain.
Analytics or data processor
The digitization of nearly every aspect of life has generated an enormous volume of data on an ongoing basis. Manually processing this massive and diverse data is impractical, necessitating software capable of handling, analyzing, and drawing meaningful conclusions from it.
This software, known as analytics or data processor, enables the effective utilization of big data generated by IoT sensors and other devices. Through analytics, valuable insights and conclusions can be derived.
For example, the IoT cloud can be used to suggest personalized exercise routines to individuals aiming to lose weight. Data collected from their IoT devices, such as smartwatches, can be processed to create a tailored exercise schedule that aligns with their goals.
User interface (UI)
The user interface acts as a point of interaction between users and interconnected devices. It can take the form of a separate touch panel or even an app that operates on a smart mobile phone.
The UI enables users to engage with and control IoT devices effectively.
Putting these key IoT cloud components together enables implementation of the entire IoT cloud system.
1. Define objectives
The first step is to set or define the objectives, meaning the desired outcome from the new system.
2. Decide hardware tool
Next, decide on the correct hardware, including the right IoT tool. The right hardware and tool impacts the cost-effectiveness of the entire system and whether or not the necessary outcomes will be achieved.
In the case of a home automation system, hardware components such as sensors, actuators, and communication devices are needed. So, select sensors and actuators that are reliable, compatible with other components, and have efficient power consumption.
3. Select IoT platform to gather useful data
The next step is to select a suitable IoT platform. There are many protocols and standards for transmitting the two-way flow of data to various networks.
Therefore, the most versatile one has to be selected for the wide applicability of the system set. Then, gather all the useful data in one place.
4. Apply analytics
Once all the data is accumulated in a single place, apply analytics to it. This step analyzes the data for the predictive and prescriptive behavior as well as tracking the big picture from the huge amount of data collected.
Choosing proper analytics will help in achieving the goal of the system effectively.
5. Add security features
Cybersecurity is of utmost importance in the digital world. In order to protect the system from hackers or attackers who might steal sensitive data from the IoT system, it must be enabled with security features.
The system should be scanned for any security vulnerabilities and then, accordingly, these vulnerabilities should be resolved.
6. Select and connect with appropriate cloud service
Select an appropriate cloud service. Some cloud services are IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services.
Once a cloud service is selected, interconnect the IoT with the chosen cloud service. This has to be done by a selected protocol.
7. Test and incorporate feedback
The combined system of IoT cloud is now ready for testing, preferably by a third party.
Incorporate the feedback from the user testing agency. Do a final trial before launching the system.
Ensuring data security is of the utmost importance in an IoT cloud environment. The vast volume of data generated by diverse devices is transmitted to the cloud, passing through various components such as sensors, gateway, cloud, widgets, and UI.
It’s crucial to safeguard these points against potential data leaks or theft. Insufficient measures can render the system susceptible to hackers, who may exploit the data for personal gain or disrupt the functionality of connected devices.
Such breaches can severely impact the reliability and integrity of data analytics, ultimately jeopardizing the entire IoT cloud infrastructure.
Therefore, it’s essential to effectively fortify these components against security breaches and regularly update the security measures to mitigate the evolving threat landscape posed by hackers.
Using InfluxDB with IoT cloud
Data ingestion — Most data generated by common IoT devices like sensors is a continuous stream of time series data. Common examples of this data include sensor readings, environmental measurements, device telemetry, etc. This data can be directly stored in real-time using InfluxDB. Therefore, using any of the popular protocols such as HTTP or MQTT, IoT devices can directly send and store data to InfluxDB.
Time series data storage — InfluxDB’s key features include handling large volumes of time series data and storing it in an efficient manner for faster retrieval. IoT devices that generate streaming data can be stored in InfluxDB in a fast and efficient manner and can also be retrieved when needed efficiently.
Real-time analytics — InfluxDB provides a query language called InfluxQL that can be used to analyze time series data. An IoT cloud platform can leverage this to perform analytics such as aggregations, filtering, downsampling, etc., on the incoming data. It can also be used for real-time monitoring and alerting based on the patterns found in the analyzed data.
Data visualization and dashboards — InfluxDB provides integrations with visualization tools like Grafana to export data and convert it to rich and interactive dashboards. This can help to visualize the IoT cloud data to gather useful insights and monitor IoT devices’ performance.
IoT is an evolving technology, and with the combination of cloud computing, this can carry many tasks immediately. Thus, It provides a very useful combination for the efficient, cost-effective, and comfortable operation of all devices used in homes, offices, and many other places like hospitals, classrooms, industries, etc.
Benefits of IoT cloud include:
- minimum connecting infrastructure
- fast data recovery in emergencies
- reduced operating costs
- improved operational efficiency
- proactive analysis
- advanced analytics
- cost saving
- increased organizational productivity