Not long ago I wrote about IoT and said that the enterprise architect should take the lead role in architecting the insertion and use of these devices. Just to recap; the number of connected devices has been estimated to be at 5 billion now and growing to over 38 billion by 2020. These IoT include smart light bulbs, thermostats, air cleaners and refrigerators (to name just a few). In addition to the home, these devices are finding their way into the enterprise at an increasing pace.
While all this may be good, these devices will require “care and feeding” and it will be up to the enterprise architect to sit down with the business organization and IT to determine how best to handle these devices. After all its not simply that they are connected to an organizations network, these devices produce data that must be stored and analyzed. Questions come up about how will this data be used by the business units to create value add to the business or to the customers. It is critical that the enterprise architecture team begin (if they have not already done so) to sit down with the management and IT and chart out the need, the use and the cost (vs. benefit) these devices will add before the first rollout.
I recently witnessed problems a sponsor was having on an enterprise we had help them design. They were complaining of slow downs across their network and asked us to take a look. After reviewing there enterprise we could not figure it out, so we agreed to take a site tour. The first day we looked around and did not see anything abnormal. It was not until we put an analyzer on their network that we saw all this traffic. As we dug down, we found a number of devices that we had no idea what they were. Turns out that their IT organization found some IoT devices to monitor environmental conditions in the many, many buildings this sponsor had under one geographic area. Due to some misconfigurations these devices were sending out large volumes of data that was dragging down their network. These devices were introduced without proper controls or due diligence by their IT organization at the request of their building services group. Needless to say the business management people were not happy.
With IoT, and other technologies for that matter, the enterprise architect can help guide a business to the proper use and deployment of new technologies. The EA’s skills position them well to handle the insertion of technologies that could be either beneficial or detrimental to the enterprise.