Sustaining IoT’s Huge Data Volumes Requires a Storage Boost

IoT is a hit with tech-savvy industries, but to maintain the level of innovation and data generation, companies must contemplate growing storage needs.

securing the Internet of Things (IoT)

The futurists who foresaw the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the ubiquity of embedded sensors can take pride in knowing they called it correctly.

Sensors and connected things surround us. IoT devices far outnumber computers and handhelds and are present in almost every facet of our lives. They’re recording our heartbeats, measuring our productivity at work, and tracking the wear and tear on our cars, to name a few things. IoT sensors are now critical mainstays in nearly every industry or commercial enterprise — even sports.

Modern sporting events gather far more information about the events than in the past. Sensors embedded in soccer balls, for example, can track each shot on goal, passes, and corner kicks.

The sensors enable a massive amount of stats for tracking player performance, and they also allow referees to make more informed decisions about close calls involving goals or penalties.

A Data Cyclone is Coming

But even among those who predicted the growth of IoT, few understood the nearly incomprehensible quantities of data these sensors would produce.

It is estimated that by 2025 there will be 41.6 billion connected devices generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data. That’s just from IoT. During that same period, International Data Corp. (IDC) estimates that the total size of the global “datasphere” will reach a mind-blowing 175ZB.

As connected devices become more accessible and affordable, an increasing number of industries find more uses for them — generating more data. The trend is unlikely to slow or stop anytime soon, and what this means for the enterprise sector is that there’s no turning back.

To remain competitive in the IoT and big data era, managers must find more efficient means to store larger and expanding amounts of information.

They need storage devices rugged enough to host data in remote and far-flung locations. They need storage that works in unison with on-premises data centers and multiple cloud services. To meet the coming data deluge, organizations need storage solutions equipped with more capacity and greater reliability.

The reason for all this data generation is simple: data analysis delivers revelatory new insights and lays the foundation for groundbreaking applications. To better understand where data analysis may be headed, consider how IoT has driven innovation in nearly every sector.

Healthcare and Ingestible Sensors

Healthcare is a hotbed of learning for IoT manufacturers.

Sensors powered by radio-frequency identification (RFID) help hospitals create automated processes to track expensive equipment, drugs and workflows. IoT enables remote patient monitoring, including recording their vital signs all day, daily. This information can be stored in the cloud and shared with physicians across a healthcare network, ultimately improving patient experience and well-being.

A patient’s experience with cancer treatment can also be improved by IoT devices that track their activity, for example. The best treatment is often one tailor-made for someone’s fitness level and lifestyle. To learn exactly what those are, doctors can deploy a fitness tracker to collect the most telling data about the patient’s appetite, fatigue levels, and daily exertion.

Wearable and mobile-device manufacturers are also seeking the ability to detect depression by tracking changes in a person’s energy expenditure, heart-rate variability, and sleep tracking.

Remarkably, patients can now swallow sensors that resemble pills. Once inside the body, these devices feed information to a mobile application and advise them on taking the proper medication dose. This technology is designed to help people who habitually forget to take their meds and those suffering from digestive ailments and intestinal problems, such as colon cancer.

Helping Out on the Farm

Ingestible sensors for animals help farmers learn when a cow becomes pregnant, ill, and can study the animal’s movements.

Edible sensors can alert a farmer to a pregnant or ailing cow by triggering a software app that automatically sends the farmer an email. IoT sensors can even detect the fertility period for cattle.

Preventing Workplace Accidents 

In addition to the commercial benefits, IoT devices also improve worker safety.

Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) reported that IoT sensors have begun transforming workplace safety by helping companies avoid, detect, report and manage safety incidents in the workplace.

Wearable technology has progressed from simple monitors and alarms to more advanced systems, including wearable gas detectors, area monitors and a cloud-connected network of devices. This design allows data and safety information to be analyzed through smart, cloud-based software and communicated back to devices in real-time by monitoring personnel.

These IoT devices have enabled the development of a fully-managed network of incident alert, response and avoidance, significantly improving safety for industrial workers.

Storage is IoT’s Backbone

Because IoT devices typically don’t possess much built-in storage, they usually must transfer the data they collect to on-premises or cloud-based storage. The cloud has greatly simplified storage and helped reduce expenses for some applications, but cloud technology is not the answer for every use case.

Considering the large volumes of data at the edge or in remote locations , relying on cloud storage may pose issues with latency, transmission and storage costs as well as security. Enterprise and IT managers should consider their options, especially those that must conduct data gathering at the edge.

Some companies can’t spare even a millisecond when analyzing large data volumes, and some industries, such as mining or energy exploration, operate in areas where it’s difficult to connect to the cloud. Organizations facing any of these issues should consider obtaining ruggedized mobile storage edge servers or storage solutions that can handle the staggering quantities of data that IoT devices capture. This typically means buying products with high density and flexibility, ruggedness, and lower power consumption at competitive prices.

Storage gear like this is essential to keeping IoT systems operating and your business competitive.

IoT innovation enables advances across almost every industry – from professional sports to healthcare – making companies more efficient, competitive and tech-savvy while generating massive amounts of data. Storage is the backbone for businesses hoping to sustain the level of data generation that comes with flourishing IoT innovation and valuable new insights.


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.