How a successful digital transformation strategy embraces IoT and hybrid cloud

By Rose de Fremery

Woman engineer looking at digital transformation strategy on the screen of a futuristic interface

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As connected devices proliferate, your business may be preparing to incorporate the treasure trove of data insights that IoT will soon yield into its digital transformation strategy. At the same time, hybrid cloud is proving its ability to play a fundamental role in ensuring timely analytics and decision-making at the edge. When both technologies are used together, they can unlock powerful opportunities.

Here’s why IoT and the hybrid cloud have surprisingly powerful synergy and how they are likely to grow in tandem as enterprises seek new opportunities for innovation.

Digital transformation strategy: The future is fast approaching

IoT devices are coming online at a breakneck pace, likely already having exceeded the world’s population over the past year. Indeed, as ZDNet reports, about 20 billion IoT devices — including mobile devices, wearables, smart home devices and much more — are expected to come online by 2020. As connected devices proliferate and begin generating unprecedented quantities of data, enterprises are increasingly deploying AI to the edge so that information can be analyzed in real time rather than falling subject to the disruptive latency it might encounter in a pure cloud scenario.

As businesses proceed along this path, it will become ever more necessary for IoT devices to conduct such analytics without relying on services in the cloud, since that method could take too long to return the timely insights required. To enable such real-time analysis, many enterprises are opting for a hybrid cloud solution that allows for distributed collection and fulfills storage requirements near the source of IoT data creation. Businesses that already have significant investments in on-premise infrastructure will find it particularly valuable to consider hybrid integration platforms that combines the benefits of a traditional on-premise environment with a cloud-based system.

The hybrid cloud enables real-time IoT analytics

Hybrid cloud solutions deliver the required computational power for enterprises to quickly process data while reducing the latency that could throw a major wrench in their digital transformation strategy. In this way, the hybrid cloud can serve as one of the essential building blocks of an IoT cloud architecture and a promising foundation on which to build future AI initiatives.

A hybrid cloud approach provides unique flexibility and control, offering precisely the flavors of storage that are necessary for an enterprise’s specific needs — whether that’s real-time, archival, redundant, distributed or another model. Rather than being tethered to the single form of storage required by a fully cloud-based solution, a business can deploy different types of storage for different tasks, maximizing productivity.

Rapid data processing will be a high priority as our IoT future approaches, and a hybrid cloud approach can be particularly beneficial here, too. Bare metal servers still provide the highest grade of performance where this is concerned, and that’s an advantage most enterprises will need to seriously consider even in our age of ubiquitous public cloud usage, especially when it comes to processing-intensive AI applications.

Last but definitely not least, security is a top-level concern for every enterprise today. As recent breaches have shown us, even anonymized IoT data can tell a surprisingly detailed story if it falls into the wrong hands. Earlier this year, as TechRepublic reports, data exposed by a fitness app inadvertently revealed the location of secret US military bases, patrols and forward operating bases. In some cases, such incidents have stemmed from the poor use of enterprise cloud services. For this reason, many businesses will find the enterprise controls reporting and auditing constructs in hybrid cloud solutions better for initiatives requiring high-grade security.

The AI gold rush is on — powered by IoT and the hybrid cloud

AI will play an increasingly central role in the enterprise digital transformation strategy, and its rise to prominence will highlight the importance of agile architectural approaches like the hybrid cloud. According to the 2017 Economist Intelligence Unit report, Artificial Intelligence in the Real World, 75 percent of the more than 200 business executives surveyed said they will actively implement AI within the next three years. This trend will be especially pronounced in North America, where 84 percent of firms report that they are actively planning to launch AI projects within that time frame.

The AI gold rush is clearly on as businesses race to realize the unparalleled benefits of cognitive innovation before their competitors. As the pace of AI adoption continues to accelerate, enterprises will need to secure all the computational power they can wrangle in order to power their new, processing-intensive AI applications.

IoT’s role in this phenomenon is apparent, as sensors and devices are expected to proliferate and begin producing increasingly large and complex streams of data that can be tapped for insights into AI. But in order to harness those insights, as well as the discoveries that can come from simultaneously analyzing data from multiple first and third party sources, enterprises will require flexible infrastructure models like the hybrid cloud that can perform analytics and knowledge processing closer to the IoT data’s point of origin.

Although it might not be obvious at first glance, the IoT and hybrid cloud have much to offer one another — and, in turn, to the enterprise and its customers. Businesses that recognize the unique synergistic potential of this pairing have a timely opportunity to realize incredible outcomes in the approaching AI age. Enterprises that capitalize on this moment could well create transformational innovation that delivers dramatic long-term growth.

Written By

Rose de Fremery

Writer

Rose de Fremery is a New York-based writer. She currently covers business IT topics such as technology innovation, mobile strategy, unified communications, CRM and marketing automation, IT management, and the virtual workforce for HP, Intel, Vonage, and IBM Mobile Business Insights.…

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