Breakfast with ECS: From Toasters to Tablets: The technology of IoT

Welcome to another edition of Breakfast with ECS, a series where we take a look at issues related to cloud storage and ECS (Elastic Cloud Storage), EMC’s cloud-scale storage platform.

This “Internet of Things” idea reallyIOT from toasters to tablets isn’t that new.  In 1989, on a dare, a couple of young networking enthusiasts implemented an IoT.  By “IoT” we mean: “Internet” was a cable to a modem, and “Things” was a toaster that could be turned on or off. 1

Since human-to-machine and machine-to-machine connections have been around, creative people have been attempting to exploit these connections.  The promise is huge – everything from convenience (I can control my lawn sprinklers from my cell phone) to gaining a competitive edge (I know more about my customers’ habits than you do) to saving lives (exploiting massive amounts of information to develop personal medical treatments).

What’s Different Today?

What’s happened since these enterprising scientists plugged a toaster into the Internet, and why is IoT such a big deal today? In short – the technology has caught up with the concept. The advances are in three critical areas that support IoT: sensors and devices, communications, and storage and analytics. Let’s take a look at each of these, and examine how advances have contributed to the practicality of IoT:

The Edge: Sensors and Devices. 

Sensors and devices that collect data (and sometimes analyze it on the spot) are ubiquitous today – and there certainly won’t be fewer of them tomorrow.

Internet of PeopleThe boom in data collection devices is led by the semiconductor industry – shrinking feature size and increasing part volumes have led to extremely inexpensive components. Nearly everything around us that we interact with can or will be Internet-connected, which leads us to…

Communications and Networking

Obviously, the Internet is pervasive today.  But it’s not just growth of the Internet that’s made IoT possible; it’s also the growth of other networking technologies.  For example, the Internet communications protocol IPv6 gives us 2128 (340*1036) unique connections—which should last for a while (that’s equivalent to the number of grains of sand on 480 quintillion Earths! [2]). There aren’t very many places left in the world that are not IoT-accessible, and data from those locations needs…

Storage, Applications, and Analytics

Data from the IoT is in a myriad of formats – such unstructured data needs a way of being managed, and that management method is object storage.  Object storage is an architecture that manages data as objects – each object includes the data itself, a variable amount of metadata, and a globally unique identifier – in short, it’s a perfect format for a large number of variable-sized, variable-content objects.

Key to the success of an IoT is creating business impact from all the collected and stored data. IoT applications analyze, report, and (in many cases) control connected devices, and must be scalable, flexible enough to comprehend all of the “Things” in the IoT, and agile enough to adjust to users’ requirements.

The EMC Data Lake allows analytics applications to access and manage content in place, without the need for expensive copy operations. Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) is compatible with industry-standard object APIs such as Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift, EMC Atmos® and EMC Centera® CAS.

ECS compatible with industry-standard object APIs Read the top reasons to choose EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) as your IoT cloud storage platform.


Technology has caught up with the concept of an IoT.  Sensors and devices that generate data, networking to connect it all together, and applications, storage and analytics form an infrastructure that makes implementing an IoT practical; in fact, implementing some form on an IoT is arguably a requirement for organizations to stay competitive in the coming years. EMC’s ECS products are the foundation of an IoT infrastructure that can help your organization take advantage of today’s explosion of data.

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About the Author: Robert Masson