How can organisations plan IT disaster recovery for the 20 billion devices forecast to be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), and ranging over anything from lawn sprinkler systems to railway locomotives? The consequences of failure or operational degradation can be very different, but the underlying principles are often similar. The device, whatever it is, needs to receive instructions, and send back information to help avoid problems and optimise performance. In the first place, this activity happens over the Net as a dialogue with central servers. However, appropriate DR planning for IoT devices can help take these links out of the equation.

The IoT may happen faster for your enterprise than you think, as cars and trucks, production machinery, and cash registers are increasingly connected. Industrial machines and devices can may require rapid monitoring and control, while generating large quantities of data that should be analysed to help improve performance, and avoid or warn about breakdowns. The original model of the Internet of Things showed information flows backwards and forwards over the Internet, with remote, central servers listening to and commanding local devices. The problem is that network problems can negatively affect these flows, preventing commands from getting through or data from being uploaded.

The new model, also known as edge computing or fog computing (as compared to cloud computing), reduces the dependency on the Internet. Local processing power and storage makes it possible to control a device or machine, and to gather and process its data, without having to deal with the latency and possible breakdown of links that might stretch halfway around the planet. The central cloud resources and the global Internet of Things are used as and when they are available. If they break, they can be repaired (almost) at leisure, while the devices and machines at the endpoints continue to function with the resources they can access locally. That way, cash registers keep accepting cash and storing sales data until it can be uploaded, locomotives keep running, and factories don’t have to suffer the consequences of general IoT interruption.