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IoT ‘requires’ switch to IPv6

Support for millions of individual IP addresses needed to unlock IoT value, says HP

IoT ‘requires’ switch to IPv6
Alshimy: The number of IP addresses will be huge.

If cities want to really take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) by implementing millions of connected devices such as traffic lights and street lamps, the industry must accelerate the move to IPv6, according to Alaa Alshimy, vice president of HP's MEMA Enterprise Group.

Speaking to ITP.net, Alshimy said that, while IoT projects are gaining ground, the kind of explosive growth anticipated by the industry won't be possible without IPv6 - simply due to the fact that millions of connected devices will need their own IP addresses.

"When you want to connect all of the devices and traffic lights and street lamps, and houses and smart meters, and everything in the city, the number of IP addresses will be huge," he said.

"You need to have the technology to support that. I would say that it's already started, but it is not really the internet of things per se, where you have the entire thing connected on IP, and maybe also have machine-to-machine connectivity using a SIM card versus Wi-Fi or direct connectivity."

As an exercise, the power of IPv6 can be illustrated by imagining that humankind one day solves the problem of interstellar travel and places 10bn humans on a planet surrounding each of the stars in our universe. That's 10bn people for every star in every galaxy.

If there are 1024 stars in the known universe, and the Internet pervades this cosmological Diaspora, under IPv6, each human could own 4,000 devices before our intergalactic government would have to step in and implement IPv7.

Unfortunately, the industry hasn't quite grasped the need for the move to IPv6. However, Alshimy also voice confidence in the industry's ability to make the switch to IPv6 in time for the large-scale roll-outs of Internet of Things technologies.

"It is the future. The Internet of Things is happening already, it has started, so it is not extremely new. But it's about taking it to the next level. It's about the connectivity, it is about the devices, and it is about the applications," he said.

Alshimy's confidence appears to be shared by independent analysts, too. According to a recent report from IDC, worldwide spending on the Internet of Things is set to reach $1.7 trillion by 2020, on the back of a 2014 global spend of $655.8 billion with a compound annual growth rate of (CAGR) 16.9%.

And, according to the research house, the biggest opportunity for the Internet of Things lies in the enterprise IT world.

"While wearable devices are the consumer face of the Internet of Things, and where recognition of IoT appears to begin, the real opportunity remains in the enterprise and public sector markets," said Vernon Turner, senior vice president and research fellow (IoT), Enterprise Systems, IDC.

"The ripple effect of IoT is driving traditional business models from IT-enabled business processes to IT-enabled services and finally to IT-enabled products, which is beginning to disrupt the IT status quo."

According to Alshimy, regional IoT success will come from finding the right use cases for the technologies at the right time. He pointed out that a number of regional organisations have already found use cases for IoT-like technologies, and that these deployments are now feeding into a broader internet of things strategy.

"It is not just about connecting everything and having the best technology, and having a fancy solution. It's about the use case and the value it brings to citizens at the end of the day," he said.

"The biggest reference today is the smart education of the UAE. You have 25,000 students connected, thousands of teachers and at least hundreds of schools connected together, where students can attend the classes through their smart devices. That's implemented, that's live, and that's delivering a lot of value to the education sector."

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