Monday Jan 27, 2014

IoT at User Group Leader Summit

Clothes that monitor your baby's vital signs. Prescription medicine bottles that remind you to take your pills (and can tell others when you don't), wind turbines that turn themselves on in anticipation of high energy usage, traffic lights that adjust to traffic conditions, trash cans that send a text when they are full. These are all examples of the rapidly growing world of the "internet of things." There is a lot of interest in this trend, so it wasn't surprising that the "Internet of Things" session was full that at the Oracle International User Group Leader Summit. (The IOUC was held last week at Oracle's Headquarters in Redwood Shores, CA, and included over 20 Java User Group leaders.)

Sharat Chander, Principal Product Director at Oracle, assembled a panel of experts to discuss IoT: Bruno Souza, Sou Java President and JCP Executive Committee member; Stephen Chin, Java Evangelist; Jai Suri, Oracle Product Manager; Ian Ferguson, Vice President of Segment Marketing, ARM; and Rich Niemiec, Oracle database expert and the Midwest Oracle User Group leader.

The panel started with defining the Internet of things (or internet of everything or M2M). Most computers already talk to a "backend," so what makes IoT different? Invisibility, said Souza. "IoT makes computers invisible," he explained. They are everywhere and all connected. You don't think of you refrigerator as a computer. Suri talked about the multitude of devices and networks involved (bluetooth, zigby, telecomm, "the cloud," etc.), the challenge of data in many different formats and providing power for small devices.

The panel also discussed the challenges of IoT. Chin asked "How many people have a wireless router at home?" and many hands went up. "How many of you have updated the router firmware in the last six months?" and most hands dropped. Yes, with more devices comes more software, more management and more vulnerability. Security is a real issue, especially for devices and industries that haven't had to consider it before. And it's not IF you get hacked, but when. "You should be thinking about *survivability*, not probability. For example, what are my alternatives after my credit card number gets stolen?" said Niemiec. "One good thing about Java in the IoT space" Suri commented, "is that it provides a level of abstraction that allows for better security and quicker updates. That's especially important in devices that are out in the field for years."  

Whatever it is, IoT is coming and coming fast. New applications are happening daily. The coolest IoT innovation hasn't even been thought of yet. "As good as you are as a technologist, you are completely underestimating how big and how fast the IoT wave is coming," Niemiec declared. 

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