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The Internet of Things (IoT): The Unique Challenges and the Solution Approaches

On this issue, we have invited Dr. Pethuru Raj Chelliah for an exclusive interview. As a digital innovation and transformation analyst, Dr. Pethuru Raj Chelliah works in Reliance Jio Platforms Ltd. (Bangalore, India) in the position of Chief Architect and Vice-President, as well as the Research Scientists (JSPS and JST Fellowships) in some universities. He is a hands-on software architect with 19 years of industry and 8 years research experience and an IoT and Data Science Architect. His research interests focus on Big Data Real-time, Streaming and IoT Data Analytics (Platforms), Containerized and Cognitive Clouds, etc.

Pethuru Raj Chelliah: The Internet of Things (IoT): The Unique Challenges and the Solution Approaches

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a core and vital technology in the second decade of the 21st century and future, as well as the latest popular concept metaverse. And the Internet of Things (IoT) is an important technical support for the development of the Metauniverse. Although the development of the IoT has begun to take shape, it still faces problems such as the unification of technical standards and security management. In response to these questions, we have conducted an interview with Dr. Pethuru Raj Chelliah, hoping to learn from him about the direction of improvement and development of the Internet of Things (IoT), and how to adapt to the emergence of future Metauniverse.

With the flourish of breakthrough digitization and edge technologies (sensors, actuators, stickers, tags, beacons, chips, codes, microcontrollers, LED lights, etc.), all kinds of physical, mechanical, and electrical systems in our midst get methodically digitized. Through such technology-enabled transitions, all sorts of ordinary objects in our everyday places become digitized entities. Such digitally enabled objects in our personal, social and professional environments gain the much-needed capability to spontaneously join in the mainstream computing. This strategically sound aspect of digitization is capable of accomplishing several powerful and pioneering things for people in their everyday obligations. Such an empowerment makes any digital entity to accurately understand the various needs of people in those environments quickly and to fulfil and deliver them in time with all the clarity and alacrity.

With the splurge of connectivity technologies such as low-cost, low-power and long-range communication capabilities, all kinds of digital entities are being connected with one another in the vicinity voluntarily and with remotely held software applications, analytics platforms, and databases (cloud-hosted services) over the Internet, which, without an iota of doubt, is the world’s largest, open, public, and affordable communication infrastructure. Thus, every tangible thing in our environments (homes, hotels, hospitals, etc.) get formally digitized first through the power of digitization / edge technologies and further become connected with the faster maturity and stability of communication (wired and wireless) technologies. In nutshell, casual and cheap things in and around us are becoming digitized and connected to facilitate and fulfil a bevy of digital innovations and disruptions.

In the past, we have our server machines in our data centers/server farms/clouds and personal computers hooked with the Internet. In the recent past, all our electronics (consumer, avionics, automotive, medical, etc.), defence equipment, information appliances, healthcare instruments, manufacturing machineries, personal gadgets, wares, kitchen utensils, industrial robots and drones, and so on are being integrated with the Internet with the intention of getting additional empowerment. This is called as the Internet of devices (IoDs). Then came the era of service engineering (service-oriented architecture (SOA) and microservice architecture (MSA)) and hence the idea of the Internet of Services (IoS) started to flourish with the proper nourishment from product and tool vendors. Now there is a tremendous surge in the number of the Internet-connected sensors and devices , the mesmerizing phenomenon of the Internet of Things (IoT) has started to sweep the whole world. Precisely speaking, the IoT is the next-generation Internet comprising not only computers and communicators but also digitized entitles. The market watchers and researchers have forecast that there will be trillions of digitized elements, billions of connected devices and millions of microservices. such as context-sensitive, event-driven, service-oriented, people-centric, cloud-hosted, knowledge-filled, process-aware, mission-critical, real-time, and real-world applications. The IoT paradigm is being pronounced as the state-of-the-art technology cluster to visualize and realize real and sustainable digital transformation across the industry verticals.

There are a slew of technical and business advantages but there remain a few critical challenges and concerns. In the subsequent sections, we are to focus on the prominent challenges.

IoT Device and Data Security through blockchain – The IoT devices are typically embedded and networked. Because of their integration with the Internet, they are publicly discoverable and network-accessible. This exposition critically endangers them. With the quality and quantity of cyberattacks are going up, there is a clarion call for competent and cognitive cybersecurity products and solutions. There are authentication and authorization approaches for ensuring the tightest security for IoT devices and data. There are other cryptography solutions for securing IoT devices and sensors. In the recent past, we are extensively hearing and reading about the blockchain technology, which is being proclaimed as the best-in-class technological solution for IoT security. In the days ahead, we will come across blockchain-enabled IoT security solutions in plenty. Without sophisticated IoT security solutions, the aspirations of setting up and sustaining smart homes, offices, cities, manufacturing etc. will see the reality.

Real-time Analytics through Edge clouds – IoT devices are computational, communicative, sensitive, perceptive, vision-enabled, responsive, and active. But IoT sensors are resource-constrained and hence they just collect and transmit their environment details to IoT devices. IoT sensors generally do not contribute in computing. It is not an exaggerated statement that edge devices and their clusters/clouds (a kind of dynamic, ad hoc, and purpose-specific conglomeration of nearby IoT devices for enabling real-time data capture, cleansing and crunching) are mandatory for extracting real-time insights. Researchers have come out with a number of ways and means of accumulating multiple IoT devices in scheduling edge-native applications/services. Thus, highly reliable and efficient edge computing through heterogeneous IoT devices presents a few challenges to be surmounted through path-breaking technologies.

Edge AI – We have plentiful IoT devices. They are digitized and connected. The challenge is how to transition them to be natively cognitive in their actions and reactions. With more resources getting stuffed in IoT devices, artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, frameworks, libraries, and tools are being deployed in IoT devices in order to enable them to do AI-inspired data processing. Such an empowerment is able to fulfil the long-pending goal of establishing and sustaining intelligent IoT devices. By smartly applying the AI advancements in IoT devices, it is possible to envisage smarter and sophisticated applications for a variety of business problems.

Energy Optimization —— Our environments will be stuffed with a large number of disparate and distributed IoT devices in order to capture a variety of decision-enabling information. With the participation of multitude of devices, the power energy needs are bound to go up remarkably. With more electricity consumption, the problem of heat dissipation surfaces. Such a turnaround is to damage our fragile environment. Thus, the aspect of energy conservation and preservation gains the attention of experts. Also, IoT devices are deployed in rough and tough areas in order to meticulously and minutely enable remote monitoring of distant things. The battery life of IoT devices has to be substantially enhanced and hence this is a greater research endeavour.

5G for the IoT world —— Due to the increasing density of IoT devices and sensors in important junctions, there is a need for 5G wireless communications for involving and invoking IoT devices. The latest 5G implementation, which sharply increases network bandwidth and guarantees less latency, is needed towards realizing highly reliable IoT devices and their networks. One million IoT devices can be accommodated within one square kilometre through the leverage of 5G cellular communication.

Complexity Mitigation —— Typically complexity grows up with the heightened multiplicity and heterogeneity. There are slim and sleek, trendy and handy, purpose-specific and agnostic devices. These follow different data representation/exchange/ format and transmission protocols. Complexity mitigation is being touted as the mandatory requirement for the intended success of the IoT concept. There are device management platforms. Device connectivity (device-to-device (D2D) and device-to-cloud (D2C) communications) has to be available, scalable, secure and reliable. Forming and managing edge clouds for tackling real-time data analytics at edge are another critical need.

The success of cloud-native and serverless computing paradigms is being replicated in the famous edge computing. The emergence of container-enablement (Docker) and orchestration (Kubernetes) platforms is being seen as a positive development for making edge cloud pervasive and persuasive. There are shrunken versions of the Kubernetes platform for producing and delivering resilient edge-native applications. The adoption of service and event meshes is being categorized as another noteworthy aspect for eliminating various complexities of edge computing.

Miniaturization and High-Performance Processor Architectures —— IoT devices are becoming multifaceted and features-rich. They are also instrumented and interconnected to be intelligent. The miniaturization technologies are being widely used to come out with disappearing and disposable IoT devices and sensors. Further on, there are ground-breaking processor architectures including GPU, VPU, and TPU in order to make computing a new normal at the edge.

With edge computing becoming a stable and matured model, the world is heading towards the hybrid era. There will be a combination of virtual and physical worlds. The much-celebrated hyperscale clouds will supplement the fast-emerging and evolving edge clouds to enable the IoT era bright and brilliant.

Collator: Zhang Jingyue



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