Storage: A Secret to IoT Innovation

Here are three ways storage devices are evolving to meet the unique requirements in IoT in the field.

IoT-software-development

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to open up exciting opportunities for innovation. New products, technologies and use cases are changing the world as we know it, pushing humanity forward in amazing, life-changing ways.

We’re exploring underwater, underground and in outer space. We’re developing self-driving vehicles that move people and goods more efficiently, safer and faster than ever before. Factories can essentially run themselves with massive networks of sensors and arrays of autonomous robots. Wearable devices keep us healthy, safe and entertained. Drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide actionable insights for agriculture, architecture, mining, emergency response and other industries.

But it’s the storage embedded in these devices that really help enable the capabilities.

Storage is integral to the functionality, efficiency and reliability of IoT devices. It enables them to collect, store, process and manage data effectively. IoT devices can deliver huge amounts of data that are collected, stored and analyzed, which help us gain real-time insights that power autonomous decision making, and actions that can contribute to improved performance and better user experience. These storage devices, usually based on NAND Flash, need to be fast, resilient and secure as a baseline.

Here are three ways storage devices are evolving to meet the unique requirements in IoT in the field:

1. Industrial-grade reliability and resiliency

IoT devices such as robots and UAVs are often made to operate in harsh conditions where humans can’t or shouldn’t go due to safety or comfort. This includes underwater or underground, in remote geographic areas such as in the middle of a rainforest or in outer space, for example. As a result, drives for these use cases should be industrial grade and are designed to withstand extreme weather, varying atmospheric situations or any other harsh environmental conditions. As technology continues to develop and we identify new areas to explore, it is crucial that all of the technologies and components in these new extreme use cases are ruggedized to ensure they are up for the challenge.

In space, for example, thousands of satellites orbit the earth, collecting petabytes of data per year. In fact, the recently NASA-launched Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission and the soon-to-be-launched NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission satellites are expected to generate about 100 TBs of data per day. Storage for all this data is needed both on the satellites themselves as well as on earth. However, the storage drives in these satellites face immense beatings, pressure and vibration at takeoff. Once in orbit, they are subject to extreme temperature ranges of and are bombarded by devastating radiation and ionizing particles. Design for Reliability (DFR) becomes that much more important when dealing with large volumes of data in extreme environments to ensure none of the data is lost and the integrity of that information remains the same.

2. Virtualization on the edge

Virtualization is not new. Data center architects have long aggregated multiple storage devices into a single virtualized pool of available storage capacity to deliver flexibility on demand. And now, this same storage concept predominantly found in the data center is being pushed to the edge of the network in IoT devices.

Imagine a smart vehicle with multiple systems ranging from navigation and entertainment to alerting and vehicle control — all with different data requirements. For performance and security reasons, the data that powers these systems needs to be segmented and stored separately.

Through advancements in storage virtualization, it is now possible to partition storage resources – essentially making them act as separate drives – to help meet the needs of each application’s use case without having to install multiple drives for more optimized use of resources.

3. Advanced Security Features

No matter what the use case or application, data is an important asset that deserves to be secured. As IoT devices become more ubiquitous throughout our lives, it’s important that the information collected by and stored on these devices doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Advanced security features including encryption and tamper-proof design need to be considered when building and implementing the right drive for each use case.

This can help ensure that even if the physical storage medium is compromised, the data remains unreadable without the appropriate decryption keys.

Drives Designed for the Future

IoT is driving incredible innovation in nearly every aspect of the economy and our lives, and – from seismic sensors underwater to autonomous space vehicles – storage on devices or on the edge of the network is key to empowering these amazing use cases. These NAND Flash solutions need to operate in the harshest conditions, enable virtualization and data segmentation, and be designed to protect our most critical information. And it’s important that IoT device manufacturers choose a storage solution that can meet the performance, endurance and reliability of these current and future innovative use cases and applications.

Russell Ruben

Russell Ruben is director of automotive and emerging segment marketing at Western Digital. Previously, Russell was Western Digital’s Surveillance and Connected Home marketing director and prior to that was responsible for the automotive business in Korea and Japan.

Prior to joining Western Digital, Russell worked at Microsemi Corp. and Altera Corp (now Intel) and has more than 25 years of experience in engineering, marketing and sales. While at SanDisk, he served as product marketing manager where he was responsible for SD cards, compact flash and custom OEM flash products.

Russell received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah and a Master of International Marketing from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management.


Russell Ruben

Russell Ruben is director of automotive and emerging segment marketing at Western Digital. Previously, Russell was Western Digital’s Surveillance and Connected Home marketing director and prior to that was responsible for the automotive business in Korea and Japan.

Prior to joining Western Digital, Russell worked at Microsemi Corp. and Altera Corp (now Intel) and has more than 25 years of experience in engineering, marketing and sales. While at SanDisk, he served as product marketing manager where he was responsible for SD cards, compact flash and custom OEM flash products.

Russell received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah and a Master of International Marketing from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management.