Edge and field IoT storage strategies


The cloud is a popular destination for Internet of Things storage, but it doesn’t work in every use case. What’s the best way to develop your edge IoT storage strategy?

Internet of Things and Communication Technology Concept - Modern graphic interface showing smart information and digital lifestyle in application software for home and business use.
Image: Blue Planet Studio/Adobe Stock

Grandview Research projects that the global edge computing market will grow at a rate of 38.4% CAGR between 2021 and 2028. Organizations are clearly jumping on the edge Internet of Things bandwagon, but strategic IoT storage plans often lag adoption.

SEE: Hiring Kit: IoT developer (TechRepublic Premium)

What steps can enterprises take to get their arms around IoT storage, and ensure that IoT storage is optimized for every use case?

IoT data storage options

Cloud IoT

Cloud IoT storage is an attractive option for many companies.

Cloud storage can be readily scaled to accommodate as much IoT data as you need to store, although storing troves of unstructured data in a readily-scalable cloud can rapidly lead to budget overruns if you don’t carefully manage it. So too can sending IoT data to and from the cloud lead to budget overruns. IoT data from sensors and devices can move to and from the cloud via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular, satellite and even low power network services, but it is up to IT to determine the most economical and most reliable means of IoT data transport.

The advantage of IoT data storage in the cloud, if your operations are geographically dispersed,  is that major cloud providers have data centers around the world. This can help you control your costs of transmitting and storing data since cloud storage facilities are localized.

Major cloud providers such as Microsoft, Google, AWS, IBM and others also have IoT storage and processing expertise on staff. These providers are capable of end to end management of all of your IoT, if you need that.

Popular use cases: Cloud IoT storage is a popular choice for companies that have dispersed geographic operations and IoT data. Use cases include a worldwide logistics carrier, or an enterprise that must track millions of assets in every corner of the world. Cloud IoT storage also works great for mid- to small-sized organizations that need IoT cloud management assistance with storage and processing.

Hybrid cloud-device storage

Some cloud IoT storage providers offer methods where employees can temporarily store IoT data that they will ultimately send to the cloud on their local devices.

These chunks of locally stored IoT data can be videos, images or any other type of unstructured data that a user needs to access locally and with minimal latency during retrieval. When the user is through using the data locally, the data can be sent to the cloud for more permanent storage.

Popular use cases: A physician with a need to see the immediate x-ray scan of a patient might opt to have that image on their smartphone device. This gives them easy cloud-free access to the image, and eliminates the latency of cloud image retrieval.Similarly, surveyors and field techs for telecommunications companies who must service customers in remote areas can locally store images and diagrams on their devices. This assures access to relevant documents in areas where Internet service is unreliable.

Network servers

IoT data can be stored locally on network servers that are proximate to the activity centers that they support. The advantage of storing IoT data onsite and near their centers of activity is that you don’t have to transmit the data in real time to an off-premises cloud that incurs costs and a certain amount of unreliability if an Internet connection falters. Data stored at the edge can be uploaded at any time to a central repository.

Popular use cases: Industrial manufacturing, where production lines employ robots and automated machinery that communicate back and forth, operating on IoT data, or remote field sites, such as a field office that collects and stores IoT data specific to that location.

System-on-a-chip

SOC combines hardware and software, including components like a graphical processing unit, a central processing unit and system memory all on single chip.

This all-in-one chip builds-in AI capacity to operate sophisticated equipment for manufacturing and other industries. It can also store IoT data in read-only, random access and flash memory. This chip is not designed to store large amounts of data, but in a circumscribed memory footprint, it can do a lot.

SEE: Tech projects for IT leaders: How to build a home lab, automate your home, install Node-RED and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Popular use cases: Smartphone memory, consumer electronics and constricted geographic applications like managing a traffic light in a smart city.

Summary

As companies deploy more IoT on the edge, they will need a mix of storage strategies that range from off-premises cloud storage to various implementations of onsite edge storage. These options simplify the task of orchestrating an overarching IoT data storage architecture that can meet both cost and performance requirements.



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