Considering a scalable infrastructure.

Scalable Infrastructure: An infrastructure designed to be flexible in meeting the capacity (bandwidth, compute and storage) required by a series or set of activities. This infrastructure can on-demand increase or decrease depending upon the need.

It is a core component of what will be the IoT. Being able to quickly move compute, storage and bandwidth to any conceivable location seamlessly. I love by the way the word seamless, it means simply without seam so it applies to this problem better than using the word perfectly. Seamless doesn’t in the end imply error free simply that there will not be a visible seam.

IoT changes the concept of scalable considerably. What once was confined to the four walls of a corporate office could now be anywhere and everywhere in the world. A mesh that requires both managed interconnection as well as sustained bandwidth to produce information for people to act on.

I gave a talk once to a group of 5th graders (now nearly a year ago). In that talk I was discussing the concept of sensors and information flow. Not, using those specific words, rather the concept. I asked the class to tell me which sensor should have priority.

  • A volcano is erupting 1000 miles away
  • A river is flooding 100 miles away
  • There is an earthquake under the ground 1 mile away

It was in the end a smart group of kids. They said all three were critical depending upon where you were standing. That in my opinion is the right answer. The sensor nearest human populations is the critical sensor. We then spent time talking about the concept of a scalable infrastructure that would allow you to build out sensors to respond to the natural world. We talked about the value of rain gauges not just as how much rain has fallen but as a tool that can be used to consider the path and velocity of a storm. Storms gain moisture when they travel over bodies of water. Hurricane’s lose power as they come inland. The deeper in the ground the earthquake determines the impact up on the surface.

All of that was pre-IoT obsession although I did tell the class about the growing concept of IoT as it applies to sensors. But IoT is also the scalable infrastructure required to move information from sensors to receivers. A hobbyist that loves canoeing on a river is going to want to know if that river is peaking above flood stage 100 miles up river. It kind of impacts your canoeing experience down river.

Back now to my original concept that of scalable infrastructure. It is in the end cloud. But it doesn’t have to be a CSP (Cloud Service Provider). It can and should apply to all concepts of what the IoT will be eventually. It goes with my long argued concepts from the book The Syncverse and my Screen as a Service concepts.  The concept of an infrastructure that responds not to the short term requirements of the situation but also is able to intelligently rise and fall to the actual need.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.