Live Long and Store Data: From Star Trek to the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things [IoT] is likely to be the Internet’s next big tidal wave and has the potential to impact how we live and interact with the world around us.

Hype, aggrandizement or timing aside, the market will be significant.  Forecasts for Internet of Things vary widely; with IDC’s Worldwide Internet of Things Forecast, 2015–2020 projecting an $8.9 trillion dollar market by 2020 while Gartner is more conservative at a $1.7 trillion dollar market and Bain projecting $1.2 trillion by 2017.  Truthfully like all new waves, IoT will probably not resemble the descriptions of today’s market analysts but the impact will be felt in how we prepare for the tidal wave.

The big questions in this whole Internet of Things puzzle revolve around data collection and storage.  How are we going to interact with the data and collect it and how is the data going to be stored in a meaningful way to make sense of all the data points.

Do you know what this is?

TricorderThis is an image of a Tricorder from the fictional television series Star Trek.  There were primarily three distinct versions used throughout the series but in general these multifunction hand-held devices were used for sensor scanning, data analysis, and recording data.   Captain Kirk or Spock could walk up to just about anything or anybody and with a push of a button get detailed information about the “thing” that was in front of them: medical and health information, engineering details of the ships computer system and whether the creature in front of them was friend or foe.

Today your iPhone or android device in your pocket is your Tricorder.  Think about that.  Today you have apps that monitor your health, track your workout, and control the heat in your house.  Soon you will be able to walk up to just about anything or anyone and with a push of button get detailed information on the spot.  Imagine walking into a restaurant and having the ability to learn about the ingredients in your meal, where the food was grown and how it arrived at the restaurant.  We are talking about the ability to do analytics on data in real-time and this will fundamentally change the way we interact and collect data.

The iPhone “Tricorder” answers the first question around interaction and data collection but what about the data storage?

If you follow along with the Star Trek theme there was a concept of “Ultimate Computer” in one of the episodes.  The ultimate computer system was built to handle all the ships functions without human assistance by gathering information through sensors and analyzing data to make decisions.   The computer system stores data regardless of whether the information came from legacy systems, Tricorder or even from new foreign systems.  It grew and learned through interactions.   It was essentially a data lake that collected the information and allowed for real-time analytics to make better decisions.  Think about that for our case today.

Fast forward to 2015 and the ultimate computer system is called EMC ECS, the scale-out object platform that is the foundation to our IoT data lake story.  EMC solves the question of “how is the data going to be stored in such a way that we can make sense of it?” by providing a geo-distributed data lake approach to collecting IoT information—perhaps billions of objects— regardless of where the data comes from. The geo-distributed data lake approach allows for Cloud apps, mobile devices, and analytics all to reside and coexist with legacy systems.

Just like in the case of Star Trek, you will have a system in place that will grow with you no matter what new connectivity the Internet of Things will bring.  The EMC data lake will grow and learn with you. ECS IOT

So here’s to jumping into the deep end of the data lake with EMC and embracing the new wave coming from the Internet of Things.

Live Long & Store Data

Star Trek Data

About the Author: Robert Masson