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The Internet of Things and how it affects cloud service providers

Some day, this glass of water will probably be Internet-enabled.

Many converging trends have affected data center design in recent years, with cloud infrastructure placing greater emphasis on automation and expanding data volume making it important to consider efficiency options to lower total cost of ownership. Through trends such as bring your own device, many more end points are connecting to corporate networks. 

One factor to keep in mind is that it is more than smartphones and tablets leveraging enterprise resources these days. As David Canellos of the Cloud Security Alliance recently noted in an Infosecurity Magazine blog, the Internet of Things trend has led to everything from Internet-enabled sensors and video cameras to connected light bulbs and refrigerators. Additionally, researchers predict there will be more than six connected devices per person in the world by 2025. 

Internet of Things means more data
The heart of the value in IoT is data. With the evolution of smart buildings, for instance, businesses and consumers can more actively monitor their utility usage as well as make efficiency adjustments from anywhere. Canellos argued that the value of this data can only be realized through the cloud. As more devices connect and generate information, the scalability of cloud storage will likely make a compelling case for analytics activities. 

"Systems in the cloud will be used to (a) transform data to insight and (b) drive productive, cost-effective actions from these insights. Through this process, the cloud effectively serves as the brain to improve decision-making and optimization for Internet-connected interactions."

The pay-per-use model of cloud infrastructure makes it a good fit for the data generated by IoT. Canellos suggested the technology will likely provide the resources necessary to integrate numerous applications as well as store data and provide an environment to run more robust analytics tools.

Data protection issues emerge
Data protection and security are likely to reemerge as core cloud concerns with that much data entering into providers' infrastricture. According to Canellos, the IoT will heighten the risk of personally identifiable information (PII) being exposed. This means that cloud service providers will need to supplement their offerings with controls such as authentication and measures such as encryption to ensure their customers' information remains safe.

"In the middle of it all will be IT and security professionals, and their technology partners, who will have the challenge of managing not only the threats of data leakage and identity theft, but also growing consumer and employee concerns about data privacy," Canellos wrote.

Fortunately, many of the same concepts that currently drive customer trust will continue to provide value in the IoT era. For example, David Baker of identity management provider Okta recently highlighted the benefits of transparency among cloud service providers. Buyers want to know how their assets are protected and how their technology partners would respond in the event of a breach. 

IT service professionals may not want to think about their systems being breached, but it is a real possibility as the threat of cybercrime grows. Baker emphasized that cloud providers should clearly outline their breach notification policies and be proactive about informing businesses whether an incident involves a data breach or downtime.

When cloud vendors are clear about these issues, it helps their customers craft a more robust business continuity plan and limits the impact that an incident would have on their ability to operate. Baker suggested cloud companies help their customers form this strategy, as this could alleviate a significant amount of frustration when an incident occurs.

"The businesses that thrive in the cloud are highly available, disaster resilient and prepared for anything," Baker wrote. "And they clearly communicate these guarantees to customers through SLAs."