Navigate the Internet of Things

Oracle’s Peter Utzschneider discusses the challenges and opportunities from this new disruptive technology.

By Caroline Kvitka

January/February 2014

Analysts predict upwards of 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020, generating zettabytes of data each day—a phenomenon called the Internet of Things (IoT). Oracle Magazine’s Caroline Kvitka sat down with Peter Utzschneider, vice president of product management for Java at Oracle, to discuss IoT challenges, opportunities, and development. The following is an excerpt from that interview. Listen to the full interview at

Oracle Magazine: What is IoT, and how does it relate to machine-to-machine, or M2M?

Utzschneider: The Internet of Things is a term used to describe the next wave of innovation that our industry is going through. Traditionally, we have thought primarily of humans connecting to the internet, but IoT is really the next step, where “things” are also connecting to the internet and to each other.

M2M describes part of IoT, which is machine-to-machine communication.

Oracle Magazine: What challenges do IoT and the massive amount of data being generated by these devices present?

Utzschneider: IoT brings a number of challenges. First, there are infrastructural challenges. All these devices will have to be connected, which means the networks to support them have to be able to support that new load. Each of these devices will be producing a lot of high-volume, low-value data.

Some of these devices will generate very small pieces of data, but there will be lots of pieces. The industry will have to cope with that new volume of big data and be able to manage it from the devices up through gateways all the way back to the enterprise.

Second, once we have that data, what are we going to do with it? This opens up a whole new opportunity for us to continue to drive and to continue to innovate, providing new applications and services based on that data.

Oracle Magazine: What opportunities does IoT present for application developers, and what should they be thinking about when designing connected devices?

We have thought primarily of humans connecting to the internet, but IoT is really the next step, where ‘things’ are also connecting. ”–Peter Utzschneider,
Vice President of Product Management for Java, Oracle

Utzschneider: The world is definitely going to change for application developers. We usually think of developing applications for humans and then having the interaction with those applications coming from their devices. Now, application developers are starting to develop code that will run on very small devices. Then they will extend their application development on the server side to be able to include those devices, which will add new richness and nearly endless new possibilities.

Developing on these devices is definitely a new and different domain for most application developers. We refer to these devices as being resource constrained. They might have a smaller memory footprint, and they don’t have a human on the other end that can click on an option or push a button to upgrade. A lot of these devices will be field-deployed in some cases for 10 or 15 years without anyone ever touching them. All this will push developers to shift and adapt to this new embedded development style.

On the server side, these are new device clients that will have to be integrated into existing infrastructure, while also integrated with data that we get from other “things” in order to create those new applications. Oracle is evolving and enhancing the Java platform, which has been used on a wide range of devices for quite some time, specifically for IoT. A Java developer will be able to write code, and it will run on a very small device all the way up to a very large device. We are working to make it as easy as possible for Java developers to reuse their Java skills for IoT development.

Oracle Magazine: Is Java becoming a standardized platform for IoT?

Utzschneider: We’re seeing a number of different indicators that Java is being adopted as a basis for IoT. The challenge the industry has right now is that device-based development traditionally has been highly fragmented. Most of the time people would choose the components that go into a device and then write all the software in native code, so there weren’t a lot of considerations about interoperability or reusability of the code for other similar applications. Java, with its “write once, run anywhere” history, allows developers to get started more quickly and to reuse code across devices. That’s attractive for developers and also for the industry.

Oracle Magazine: How do you see IoT, big data, and cloud converging?

Utzschneider: We now have several major developments happening in our industry: cloud, big data, social, mobile, and IoT. It’s going to take a tremendous amount of orchestration and coordination across the industry to make sure we’re able to harness all those trends at the same time.

Take mobility. With innovation in smartphones and tablets, we can easily do e-commerce and connect to our social apps from these devices. With IoT, mobile device use is going to expand significantly. These same devices are becoming the ultimate remote controls for us to connect and control the physical environment around us. For example, with home automation, I can use my phone to turn the lights and the alarm system off and on, to look at energy consumption, and to manage home entertainment—whether I’m there or not.

As far as cloud, it becomes an enabling technology for IoT. For a lot of organizations, adding devices and the huge amount of data they generate to their existing infrastructures or their back-end systems simply won’t scale, and they will need to rethink how those infrastructures are set up. They will look to cloud service providers to make that happen for them.

Oracle Magazine: Besides home automation, what are other emerging markets for IoT?

Utzschneider: IoT will affect every business. We’re seeing early adoption in healthcare, including lifestyle health devices, patient monitoring, and home healthcare or telehealth. Another big area is telematics—the automotive industry is already connecting vehicles so that manufacturers can remotely monitor and support their vehicles. It is also a way for them to collect data on vehicles out there in the real world, which they then put into further design and innovation.

Telematics also applies to fleet management and logistics, managing things such as delivery vehicles to make sure they are running efficiently, and rental car companies, so they can push in-vehicle service offers or information to enable you to book a hotel or dinner reservations from the car.

Industrial automation is another category, especially in the area of manufacturing and process automation. All this technology will enable companies to pull more data off of machinery that’s in factories in order to get a better idea of what’s happening on the factory floor.

Oracle Magazine: What is Oracle doing in terms of IoT beyond Java?

Utzschneider: Oracle provides a complete data management and analysis solution across sensors, devices, data centers, and applications. Oracle’s enterprise solutions provide a wide array of data management capabilities uniquely suited to IoT: with Oracle big data solutions, massive amounts of M2M data can be stored for the highest performance at the lowest cost with Oracle Exadata or Oracle Database Appliance. Enterprises can gain real-time visibility into this data with Oracle Business Intelligence, Oracle Exalytics, Oracle Event Processing, and Oracle business and industry applications. Not only do we have very rich back-end infrastructure to help the industry cope with a lot of those data volumes, but we also have a lot of technology that can push intelligence out to the new world of edge devices and enable customers to better filter, manage, and transform the data along the way before it reaches the back end. This data adds tremendous value to businesses.

Oracle is building an Internet of Things platform, which takes into consideration all the things on the device side around device lifecycle management with security of the applications on the devices—as well as tying them back to back-end infrastructure in order to better enable our customers to take their existing infrastructure investments and extend them. Oracle is in a great position to combine our history and technology on the back end with everything that we are now doing on the device side and then innovate on top of it specifically for the huge opportunity offered by IoT.

Oracle Magazine: What does Oracle’s IoT strategy mean for customers and partners, including device makers and solution and service providers?

Utzschneider: Oracle is taking a holistic view of IoT. We work closely with many of the various players in the IoT value chain—from the silicon chip designer and the chip maker whose chip goes into an IoT module to the device manufacturer, the solution provider, the systems integrator, the service provider, and onto the enterprise customer. Oracle leadership is making sure that we are investing in all points of the value chain, such that when the smart devices come to market, we’ve taken care to ensure that they can easily be service-enabled. We believe the devices, in order to play in IoT, will have to be more service-oriented so that they can evolve over time and provide more value, more new services over time. We’re working closely with all the partners in the ecosystem and the value chain to make sure the devices can do that—while at the same time working with our system integration partners and customers so they can prepare back-end systems to be able to support all these devices and build the advanced services and new applications that will become available with IoT.

This should provide everyone in the value chain with opportunity and a way to reduce costs. I think the combination is very powerful and a real game changer.

Next Steps

 LEARN more about the Internet of Things

 LISTEN to the podcast

 WATCH the video, The Internet of Things: Managing the Complexity

Photography by Aaron Burden, Unsplash