So you hoped the madness might end at wearables and the Internet of Things, did you? No such luck, IT pros: Get ready for drones.
Enterprise IT vendors certainly are preparing for the drone era. Anticipating an invasion of the enterprise by these flying devices, companies such as Google, Verizon, Microsoft, Cisco, AT&T, IBM and Intel are rolling out support products and services.
“It’s no wonder that enterprise IT vendors are seeking to get in on the action, even if that means not so much building drones themselves, but rather providing supporting technology, from network connectivity to network management to collaboration tools to big data analysis,” writes Network World‘s Bob Brown.
No wonder, indeed. The Federal Aviation Commission predicts commercial drone sales will jump to 2.7 million units in 2020 from 600,000 this year. And when it comes to technology in the enterprise, it’s ultimately IT’s responsibility. Brown quotes Gartner senior research analyst Gerald Van Hoy:
“Drones are just a mobile platform that carries sensors and so basically, they are another IoT platform. Anything you can think of that is IoT-related as far as connectivity or software will probably bleed into the drone space. The more sensors you put on these, the more data has to be collected off of them, has to go to the cloud, has to be stored and processed.”
Those are exactly the types of services offered by the enterprise IT vendors who recognize drones simply as another component of the network infrastructure that must be monitored and managed. For example, AT&T is working with Intel on using the carrier’s wireless infrastructure to transmit data to and from drones beyond line of sight. Microsoft is working on drone security to prevent hacking. IBM is using voice commands to control drones.
The tools and infrastructure for drones are being built, not just by these technology giants, but by start-ups being funded by venture capital. Drone industry startup funding reached $450 million in 2015, according to CB Insights, nearly four times the $121 million in funding from the prior year.
So the drones are definitely coming. Fortunately, all you have to do is integrate them into your network, secure them, make sure they don’t crash, educate employees and meet regulatory and compliance requirements. It should be easy, right?!