The tide can no longer be turned, everything will be connected. Even your venerable coffee maker will not go unscathed (and RFC7168 will no longer be just for Easter eggs). The world is increasingly becoming connected, with all kinds of IoT enabled devices generating data every millisecond of every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every year. That is a lot of data. Having a device generate all this data is a great technological achievement, but meaningless by itself. Something needs to see the data to work with it, so the data must be transported to where it can be put to good use.
Deploying the right technology to transport the data is critical, and Envigilant Systems has many great solutions for that. One common solution is to send all the data straight into “The Cloud.” This usually ends up being some server in a distant data center somewhere on the globe. This will work well for a few devices, but will become prohibitively expensive when everything in your house wants to send data off to some remote location. Moreover, the intended “audience” of your coffee maker’s messages is probably you, and not the system administrator monitoring the data center. What you really want, instead of sending all the data off somewhere distant, is to process the data locally and route it back to other local devices that may want to act on it. This, in a nutshell, is the problem of data locality.
A common solution to the data locality problem is the concept of “The Edge.” You can consider it a staging environment where data can be collected locally, transformed in some meaningful way, and sent back to (or retrieved by) some other local device that needs it. By keeping most of the data on the local network, we can keep the infrastructure relatively simple, with much lower bandwidth requirements than if we were to send everything to the cloud.
This is all relatively obvious and sensible, but the key question is: how to connect all those devices to an edge, and how can the data flowing through it, be made accessible to other devices in the household. We used the common household with a coffee maker as an example, but the same applies for a factory floor, or a consist of train carriages.
The Envigilant Systems Sensor Platform aims to make this process easy. By using open technologies and standards such as the MQTT Protocol, any sensor can send sensor data to an edge installation. Data flows can be created on the edge to transport the data to any other destination, whether locally, or remotely to a data center at corporate HQ for example. It also provides an open interface to allow data scientists (or your barista) to explore the data that is on the edge. More importantly, the data scientists can be at corporate HQ’s exploring and collecting data from multiple edge installations spread geographically all over the organization.