The Internet of Everything needs a fabric to weave together the many silos of data that we are creating with all this Internet connectivity. This is the key point, or at least my key takeaway, of a recent article published by Sam Lucero, Senior Principal Analyst at IHS Technology. Sam has been covering M2M, IoT and IoE for a long time and has seen the evolution of this market over the years. Frankly, most of the report goes on to talk about actual network connectivity and speaks to the ‘fabric’ issue in that context, but I’m going to give him a gold star for a brilliant metaphor nonetheless.
The IHS piece also dovetails beautifully with something that a colleague in the UK, Tom Foale, said to me recently. It was something like, “the Internet of Things might as well be called the Internet of Silos, because that’s exactly what most companies and vendors are actually creating.” His point highlights the irony of connecting billons of chattering devices and machines only to create a data and integration challenge of equal magnitude.
In response to these silos of connected data, the answer from the market has been to throw “Platforms” at the problem. Many believe this is the right way to aggregate, analyze and disseminate IoT data, though a centralized, cloud-based platform. But this hub and spoke approach doesn’t map to the realities of organizations and their ecosystems.
The picture that Sam Lucero paints, at least in the opening and closing of his article, is spot on. A fabric unites things by stitching independent threads and pieces together; it doesn’t go through some intermediary to create the whole. Imagine if every thing, every device, every network, every event and business process were represented as a unique service that is both abstracted and normalized, so it can easily become part of the greater fabric, solution and value chain.
That’s why we actively embrace this notion of a ‘fabric’, a way to break down the silos through service enablement and more atomic connections. Hub and spoke, or more traditional platform architectures might work for the airline industry, but I think it’s an antiquated way to stitch together the Internet of Everything.