Backup: Safeguarding the Internet of Things

istock 56154924 small iot

A wind farm in California. An aircraft factory in Germany. An auto body fabrication plant in Ohio. Seemingly as different as their geographical locations, all have one thing in common: they are all connected to the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things, or the IoT, is at the heart of a new industrial revolution connecting machines, devices, information, and people. The IoT is an online network of sensors, often embedded in machines, that goes far beyond the popular notion of connected gadgets in a “smart home.” Although the IoT does encompass the home, that’s only one endpoint in a vast ecosystem bearing incredible potential. Every process, from design through manufacture, whether in the home or elsewhere, stands to be profoundly influenced by the IoT in the coming years.

The wind farm adjusts its output in response to changing market conditions, thanks to the IoT, maximizing returns for the operator. The aircraft factory improves safety by using the IoT to track tool locations and usage across the production floor and alert workers and managers of potentially hazardous conditions. Sensors in the metal-lifting cranes at the auto body plant report their own usage through the IoT to reduce maintenance costs and aid worker training.

These and countless other industrial uses of the IoT will generate a third of the estimated $11 trillion value of the Internet of Things by 2025, according to a study by Mckinsey. But the impact of the IoT will be felt well before then. A study by research firm Gartner concluded that 43% of organizations are already using the IoT or are planning to implement IoT strategies within the year. Gartner also forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by the end of 2016, with that number rising to 11.4 billion by 2018.

The fast-rising mountain of IoT data doesn’t exist in isolation. It all has to be stored and processed somewhere—on servers and storage devices in businesses, in the cloud, and, increasingly, in homes. That’s why all of those newly connected devices represent new vulnerabilities to data loss due to system failures, accidents, hackers, and viruses. And these vulnerabilities all boil down to one main risk factor: the possibility of crucial data becoming unavailable.

What happens when a wind farm is unable adjust output in response to renewable energy prices going negative, which can happen in California’s volatile energy market? Or, because of missing data, a plant manager’s smartphone can’t report that a motor on an industrial crane is about to burn out? Fortunately, with robust backup solutions in place, nothing much—the interruption in the flow of data is minimal.

Strong backup solutions make data always available, no matter what, by protecting data on devices and servers, and providing the means to seamlessly restore that data if necessary. What’s more, such systems offer continuous accessibility and visibility by backing up critical data wherever it happens to reside—whether it’s in the cloud, on premises, or in a hybrid of both.

Which is why backup is just as critical to the success of IoT-connected operations as the sensors, servers, and devices on the network. Backup keeps the river of data flowing, so that cranes can keep lifting, windmills keep spinning, workers stay safe, and yes, in ever-greater numbers, homes stay connected.