“While use cases may be vastly different, there are common design patterns that might apply across them. There needs to be an operating layer for IoT that cares about application life cycle management for IoT applications or infrastructure life cycle management.”
“Having this kind of layer, or a way to connect all of these different datasets, is a systemic opportunity and also a systemic challenge,” she said. “Historically disconnected data sets make it impossible to even gather data sets into something more streamlined. This is a major missing piece and layer.”
An OS Can Provide IoT Security
Groopman calls the technical challenges to creating an OS to manage IoT an opportunity on many levels. While IoT can expose vulnerabilities and increase risks for cyberattacks, building a system from the ground up means having the ability to create a secure system by design.
“IoT is a topology,” she said. “You have the data center, the network, the device, and the firmware. You have these interactions across multiple users. You have different sources of data coming in. It's a really complex ecosystem even for one device. And so the volume of attack surfaces is increasing. And the complexity of the risks at each of those surfaces is also changing rapidly.”
And while interoperability and security can both benefit greatly by a ground up IoT-centric OS, Groopman said there are also nontechnical business, societal and cultural barriers that can impede such an approach.
“We don't trust these IoT devices today,” she said. “Whether we're talking about security challenges, privacy challenges, or just data governance. We do not have an infrastructure standard for trust around not just the devices and those device identities, and who has access and who controls those devices, but the data that they emit and how that data is used. So the question of trust in governance is arguably just as important as the technical barriers to get from where we are today to what we envision as this more predictive autonomous future.”
Groopman goes further and said the challenge for IoT and a potential OS isn't just connecting apps, platforms, APIs, data centers and devices. It needs to be a meaningful connection. Helping to think of data as an asset —an asset to be stewarded, not just as fuel to drive business models — can help provide that definition within organizations.
“There's a lot of talk today of data as oil,” she said. “But in many ways, thinking about data as an asset, an asset that is not necessarily owned but stewarded, based on parameters and controls, is one of the most essential questions to the future of the economy.”
The coming tidal wave of data is one to two magnitudes beyond what the systems of today can handle, according to Vaghani. He said this calls for a machine-to-machine OS, designed from the ground-up to allow for interoperability across all of the IoT landscape for decades to come.