Rise of IoT in retail calls for cloud and fog computing

Ken Hosac

Network architecture moves toward virtual management

The rapid rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is shaping the way retailers serve customers and run their operations. It’s an exciting time, but it presents a unique challenge: The amount of data that will be generated by IoT devices in the retail sphere will grow exponentially faster than networks’ ability to process it.

Amid this migration from physical to virtual, how can companies make a smooth transition? To accommodate the escalation of the IoT in retail, as well as to future-proof their networks, retailers are discovering the vast potential of Fog Computing.

The Concept of Fog Computing

To extend cloud computing to the utmost Edge of the Network, Fog Computing is the process of:
1. Adding process and memory resources to Edge devices
2. Preprocessing collected data at the Edge
3. Sending aggregated results to the cloud

This third step is something Cradlepoint can help with. We’re leveraging our hybrid on-premises and cloud-based platforms to deliver aggregated data to the cloud. RESTful APIs enable integration with third-party platforms and Cradlepoint extends our mechanism for distributing, authenticating, and monitoring third-party code to Edge devices. The combination of Cradlepoint and third-party partnerships allows users to securely interface with various IoT machines.

Influx of Devices Requires Better Data Management

Not long ago, retail stores could get by with traditional data storage. However, the explosion of efficiency-minded technologies that have been introduced in the past several years has created a new need: Intelligent routing that allows data to be prioritized and processed right away at the end user or Edge device.

Fast, efficient data processing at the Edge is what allows all of that potential-rich data to be utilized quickly, to better serve customers and improve the bottom line.

Real-time retail apps are significant drivers of Fog Computing. For example, Bluetooth beacons have become a popular tool for retailers to both communicate with and tailor offers to customers while they’re in or near a particular store.

Beacons are just one example of a host of IoT devices that are changing the retail environment. Digital signage, in-store video, digital shopping carts, and social-shopping tools are increasingly becoming common in stores. Fog Computing at the Edge enables the retail industry to leverage the data from these devices as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Fog Computing is a Component of Future-Proof Networks

As retailers plan ahead for their future network needs, they are recognizing the emerging role of Fog Computing in their network architecture.

In the past, with on-site technology mostly limited to just computers and printers, retail stores could survive with traditional branch appliances and centralized servers, firewalls, VPN concentrators, SNMP management servers, etc. Today, with mobile devices such as phones and tablets so prevalent, retailers are moving many of their applications and management functions off physical devices and into the cloud.

Tomorrow, the growth of Edge devices will be exponential. ATMS, kiosks, video cameras, HVAC controllers, temperature sensor, digital signage, and many new retail-specific technologies will require connectivity. The cloud will hold retailers’ VPNs, network management, firewalls, applications, and more. To accommodate such virtual traffic, Edge devices will be expected to handle more computing than ever before.

With Fog Computing, retailers have the network flexibility and scalability necessary to grow and improve at the rate their highly competitive industry requires.

We’ll See You at IoT Evolution!

If you’re planning on attending the IoT Evolution event Jan. 25-28, 2016, we invite you to join my session:

“Enterprise IoT Track: The Gateways of IoT”

  • WHEN: 3:45 p.m. ET to 4:30 ET on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016
  • WHERE: IOTE-03

“IoT Drives New Networks into Public Safety Vehicles”

  • WHEN: 1:40 p.m. ET to 4:30 ET on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016
  • WHERE: Presentation Pavilion on the show floor

Did You Meet Us at NRF?

If you have questions after meeting us at National Retail Federation event this month, we’d love to provide answers.

Contact Us

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