The Internet of Things is a game-changing force, not only in the technology sphere but with implications for numerous other industries. IDC research analysts projected that the IoT will consist of 212 billion connected devices by 2020, generating $8.9 trillion in global revenues. Cisco's forecasts are even rosier, with the tech giant and IoT cheerleader predicting that the market will be worth $19 trillion within the next few years. Any way it's sliced, the IoT is poised to make a massive and far-reaching impact in the enterprise and personal lifestyles.

While many organizations look to ramp up their investment in connected electronics over the next few years, fewer have mapped a course for the data storage issues that will arise from the influx of linked, information-producing devices, as well as applications and analytics tools used to evaluate them. Companies already dealing with limitations in infrastructure support, network connectivity and IT management could be in for a rude awakening during the IoT investment process. Understanding the implications the IoT has for data storage can help organizations ensure that they're prepared.

Redefining data storage
Organizations may have to revamp their data center configurations to deal with machine-generated data, wrote InformationWeek contributor George Crump. Typically, an enterprise data center would process one of two data types: The first is large-file data, such as videos and images, which is accessed sequentially. The second kind is small-file data, which might come from a sensor log, but its massive volume compels random access. Machine-generated data comes in both types. In order for an organization to benefit fully from its network of sensors, it would need to outfit two separate storage systems to deal with the dual data types.

A company planning to approach its IoT investment with piecemeal, ad hoc storage investments would be better served outsourcing their storage needs to a provider that supports quickly scaling infrastructure builds. Otherwise, a business risks limiting the value of its machine-generated data. As Crump noted, the point of the IoT is to use data to make better decisions. Investing in a managed data storage service enables a company to direct its attention away from the complexities of infrastructure management and toward improving their business models.

"The storage systems for these initiatives almost always start out ad hoc and then become a focal point," Crump wrote. "If you have sensors, or things, that are creating data, keep an eye on that data now. Protect it and be prepared for it to become more important to the organization."