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Smarter IoT concepts reveal creaking networks

News Analysis
Jul 11, 20193 mins
Internet of ThingsNetworking

Today’s networks don’t meet the needs of emergent internet of things systems. IoT systems need their own modern infrastructure, researchers at the University of Magdeburg say.

Industry 4.0 - industrial IoT internet of things
Credit: Thinkstock

The internet of things (IoT) needs its own infrastructure ecosystem — one that doesn’t use external clouds at all, researchers at the University of Magdeburg say.

The computer scientists recently obtained funding from the German government to study how to build a future-generation of revolutionary, emergent IoT systems. They say networks must be fault tolerant, secure, and traverse disparate protocols, which they aren’t now.

The researchers say a smarter, unique, and organic infrastructure needs to be developed for the IoT and that simply adapting the IoT to traditional networks won’t work. They say services must self-organize and function autonomously and that people must accept the fact that we are using the internet in ways never originally intended. 

“The internet, as we know it, is based on network architectures of the 70s and 80s, when it was designed for completely different applications,” the researchers say in their media release. The internet has centralized security, which causes choke points, and and an inherent lack of dynamic controls, which translates to inflexibility in access rights — all of which make it difficult to adapt the IoT to it.

Device, data, and process management must be integrated into IoT systems, say the group behind the project, called DoRIoT (Dynamische Laufzeitumgebung für Organisch (dis-)Aggregierende IoT-Prozesse), translated as Dynamic Runtime Environment for Organic dis-Aggregating IoT Processes.

“In order to close this gap, concepts [will be] developed in the project that transparently realize the access to the data,” says Professor Sebastian Zug of the University of Freiberg, a partner in DoRIoT. “For the application, it should make no difference whether the specific information requirement is answered by a server or an IoT node.”

Extreme edge computing

In other words, servers and nodes, conceptually, should merge. One could argue it’s a form of extreme edge computing, which is when processing and data storage is taken out of traditional, centralized data center environments and placed close to where the resources are required. It reduces latency, among other advantages.

DoRIoT may take edge computing one step further. Detecting failures ahead of time and seamless migration of devices are wants, too — services can’t fail just because a new kind of device is introduced.

“The systems [will] benefit from each other, for example, they can share computing power, data and so on,” says Mesut Güneş of Magdeburg’s Faculty of Computer Science Institute for Intelligent Cooperating Systems.

“The result is an enormous data pool,” the researchers explain. “Which, in turn, makes it possible to make much more precise statements, for example when predicting climate models, observing traffic flows, or managing large factories in Industry 4.0.”

Industry 4.0 refers to smart factories that have connected machines autonomously self-managing their own supply chain, production output, and logistics without human intervention.

Managing risks better than the current internet is one of DoRIoT’s goals. The idea is to “guarantee full sovereignty over proprietary data.” To get there, though, one has to eliminate dependency on the cloud and access to data via third parties, they say.

“This allows companies to be independent of the server infrastructures of external service providers such as Google, Microsoft or Amazon, which are subject to constant changes and even may not be accessible,” they say.


Patrick Nelson was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Patrick Nelson and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.