Every now and then someone throws out an acronym or term in a conference or presentation that is new and not all of the mainstream audience is able to follow along. Here are some basic terms and how they relate to The Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT – The Internet of Things refers to electronics devices that collect some kind of data from sensors that are attached to it. The device is also connected to the internet so that it can send the data it collects from sensors to a larger, more powerful processor or server.
IIoT – Industrial Internet of Things.
IoE – Internet of Everything.
Cloud (cloud computing) – The cloud is the above-mentioned server. There’s a coffee mug out there with a phrase on it that defines “the cloud” as “someone else’s computer.” This is correct, but more often than not, that other person’s computer is a public cloud that is provided as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, or Oracle Cloud. The cloud is an internet-connected service that provides a large capacity for data storage as well as high-performance computing services. Wikipedia is correct in defining the cloud as “…an information technology (IT) paradigm that enables ubiquitous access to shared pools of configurable system resources and higher-level services that can be rapidly provisioned with minimal management effort, often over the Internet. Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale, similar to a public utility.”[i] Cloud computing can also refer to a virtual computer that can size up and down as needed by the application that is using the cloud. A user’s cloud services can also be spread over an entire server farm as a virtual supercomputer. In short, a cloud is a very flexible, internet-accessible computing resource; a paid service that is powered and maintained by others who can be a continent away with little to no impact to the user.
Hybrid cloud – A cloud that is part public (e.g., AWS) and part private.
Big data – Trillions of IoT devices will be connected to the internet, all gathering bits of data from whatever sensors or events that the IoT device is monitoring. As a result of frequent and ubiquitous data-gathering, enormous amounts of data (big data) will be collected, stored, and used to spot trends and make decisions for applications like predictive maintenance, futures trading, and anything else that humankind can create algorithms for. Big data is a resource that some liken to “the new oil,” since data can help us make decisions that lead to greater productivity, efficiency, and predictions based on obscure patterns that the data can somehow reveal if analyzed correctly. Big data implies datasets that are so large that they need high-performance, massively parallel computers (cloud computing) to work with such large datasets.
Fog computing – Computing that is physically closer to, or even housed in the IoT device. This term implies a cloud that is near the devices, since in real life fog is just a cloud that hugs the ground. Thus, fog computing is one or more platforms that provide server-like amenities such as data storage or high-performance computing near the IoT device and may use a local area network (LAN) rather than the internet. The benefit of fog computing is to reduce the time it takes to get responses or otherwise ensure reliable communication.
Edge computing – Similar to fog computing, edge computing refers to computing services located at the logical edge of a network, closer to the devices that need connection to the internet. Edge computing would be able to handle a greater load of computing than IoT devices and might act as a local cloud for a group of IoT devices. An “edge device” would perform more and possess more resources than a regular IoT device but might qualify as an IoT device itself or be one piece of a fog computing system.
Gateway – A gateway is a server or router that connects other devices to the internet. Gateways handle the flow of traffic for devices in its vicinity. An edge device can also be a gateway. Gateways provide a connection point from one network to another, or from a network of devices to the internet.
Event-driven architecture – software architecture that reacts to a defined event or change in state. IoT devices gather data from nearby attached sensors. The data gathered from the sensors can be streamed to a cloud, or some low level of decision-making might be done by the IoT device or a local fog computer before sending data off to a cloud.
M2M – Machine to machine, which translates to a processor or computer working with another processor or computer without the intervention of a human.
Wearables – An IoT device that is worn. Example: fitness bands.
Nearables – A device that, when it is near another device, will communicate with it, perhaps to relate information. Example: Walking tours in museums or parks where an IoT device near a statue might send data about the history of the statue directly to a user’s smartphone.
SBC – Single Board Computer. A computer that is physically complete yet occupies just one printed circuit board versus having daughter cards.
SoC – system on a Chip. A single integrated chip that contains all circuits that are needed to complete a system. Typically, the system on the chip is targeted to work best with a finite range of applications that require similar features and benefits.
V2V – Vehicle to Vehicle communication
V2I – Vehicle to Infrastructure. Example: IoT devices can be embedded in street signs to transmit speed limits of other information to an intelligent car. The sign and the car, communicating over the internet would be IoT.
V2X – Vehicle to Anything.
[i] Be careful when using Wikipedia.com, since anyone can edit most entries on that site, making each topic subject to vandals or information added by the uninformed or inexperienced. Sites like eeworldonline.com have paid editors only.