Internet of things steals cloud spotlight at AWS Re:Invent

There's a simple reason: IoT needs the cloud to succeed

Internet of things steals cloud spotlight at AWS Re:Invent
Credit: Thinkstock

Las Vegas will be cloud city this week as Amazon Web Services hosts another sold-out Re:Invent show. However, the major focus this year is the Internet of things, not so much the cloud.

The fact of the matter is that IoT lives in the cloud. Nearly all sensor-driven IoT systems have back-end cloud services. I should know -- I'm building a few of them now.

Indeed, besides big data, IoT could be the biggest killer application for cloud this year and perhaps the largest killer application for the cloud in 2016.

Don't let the large number of startups' IoT offerings and big companies' IoT investments fool you: It's still very early days. The IoT trend today is where cloud computing was in 2003, and it will follow the same maturation model.

If there's a difference, it is that IoT leverages -- and even requires -- the cloud. The reason the cloud and IoT are so hot together is that they benefit from one another. IoT needs elastic resources, and the cloud provides those in three key areas.

First, an IoT service may have to support 1,000KB of data some days and 3TB of data on other days. Sensor data comes when it comes, and the back-end system must accommodate the absorption of data; otherwise, the whole thing falls down.

Second, an IoT service has to communicate with back-end systems that are geographically distributed. Public cloud systems are the perfect infrastructure for this because they let use a close point of presence, and you don't have to send sensor data yourself across the ocean.

Third, the cloud offers built-in security that's pretty good. You're much better off using the security services in a public cloud like AWS than you are building the security yourself. This means the IoT service can assume the data is protected and any compliance issues are taken care of.

The marriage of cloud and IoT is good symbiotic relationship. We'll see more of that relationship unfold this week at Re:Invent this week -- and for years to come everywhere.

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