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Three laws of IoT connectivity govern AWS' strategy

The growth and proliferation of connected sensors has drawn AWS headlong into the IoT market. And a recent keynote speech provided clues as to how the cloud provider shapes its tools to manage those workloads.

Many industries such as agriculture, health care, and energy have embraced the IoT, but businesses must also face IoT connectivity and other technology limitations particularly as they pertain to cloud, said Dirk Didascalou, AWS vice president of IoT, at the MIT Enterprise Forum’s recent Connected Things conference. In a question and answer session, Didascalou revealed three principles that govern his team’s present and future strategy and necessitate the need for edge computing to address IoT connectivity concerns.

“We call them laws because we believe they will still be valid also with the advance of technology,” Didascalou said.

Here are those three laws:

  • The law of physics. Physical limitations of data transfers to the cloud can be prohibitive as autonomous devices increasingly need real-time responses to triggers. This means some IoT devices need some degree of local compute to get around data transfer speed limitations, particularly where safety is concerned and each millisecond delay can cost lives, as with self-driving cars. “The speed of light is only [so] fast,” Didascalou said.
  • The law of economics. Exponential data growth creates performance bottlenecks and cost overruns. It’s simply not feasible for enterprises to transmit all IoT data to the cloud in an economical fashionespecially when transmission and storage costs are factored in.
  • The law of the land. Legal and geographical restrictions can hamper data collection and transfers. For example, GDPR regulations in Europe and HIPAA guidelines in the United States mean enterprises must adapt IoT deployments to fit compliance needs. Additionally, some parts of the world don’t have the infrastructure to support regular IoT connectivity to the open internet, which limits cloud availability.

Over the last six months AWS has reinforcedits IoT strategy with services for simpler Lambda invocation, device management, security policies, IoT analytics and microcontrollers. Didascalou’s three laws could hint at enhanced AWS edge compute capabilities to negate the limitations of unreliable or unfeasible IoT connectivity to the cloud.

“As long as you believe that these three [laws] will coexist, we need to figure out with our customers, ‘How can you take the benefit of the cloud but do local compute?'” Didascalou said. “[These laws] won’t go away; they will be there forever. So we just try to find a technical solution to that instead of pretending it’s not going to happen.”

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I wonder what a specific example of one of the challenges is in these areas where better edge computing helps meet this challenge. 
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