Why HPC Matters: The Internet of Things

To gain maximum value from massive amounts of data captured from connected things, organizations need the processing power of high performance computing systems.

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Dell EMC

The Internet of Things is now just about everywhere. Consider a few examples:

  • Sensors on oil and gas pipelines spew data on the status of valves, usage and maintenance needs.
  • IoT devices on manufacturing lines report on the operation of stamping and cutting equipment.
  • Sensors on refrigeration equipment alert food processors to critical changes in equipment status.
  • Smart meters on utility lines gather and transmit data related to energy usage patterns.

This list of examples could go on and on — stretching from the smartphones in our hands and the appliances in our kitchens to the vehicles we drive and the airplanes that take us from place to place. These days, no matter where you are, it’s a safe bet that IoT devices are nearby — and actively processing and transmitting constant streams of data.

And then consider this: In many ways, we are still in the early years of the Internet of Things, which is poised for dramatic growth. Gartner forecasts that, by 2020, 20.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide, up from 8.4 billion in 2017.[1]

Looking ahead, you can expect to see IoT-enabled devices just about everywhere in certain industries. For example, Gartner predicts that by 2020, IoT technology will be in 95 percent of electronics for new product designs.[2]

To deal with the avalanche of data from ever-growing numbers of connected things, businesses are increasingly using ruggedized IoT hardware at the edge of the network to process and analyze it once its collected. In many cases, these edge devices send the most relevant data to enterprise or cloud data centers, where it is analyzed in depth — at lightning-fast speeds — on high performance computing systems. Regardless of the specific approach, the name of the game is to enable faster analysis of the data generated by all of those “things” out there.

Extracting Insights from Constant Data Streams

Here’s a case in point: Each day, more than 17 million smart devices across North America capture data about gas, water and electric use from IoT devices operated by Sensus. These devices send data to a backend big data cluster and data lake based on Dell EMC PowerEdge™ servers with Intel® Xeon® processors. Utilities and other Sensus customers use the data to monitor usage and better conserve resources, while Sensus uses it to analyze the usage and performance of hundreds of thousands of meters.

“We use the data lake to look for similar behaviors and information we can leverage to look for patterns,” says Mitchell Hensley, technical product manager of analytics at Sensus. “This helps us make faster decisions on whether that particular device should be changed or redesigned to account for how it’s being used in the field.”[3]

What we’re really talking about here is using powerful computing systems to run analytics programs that extract valuable business insights from constant streams of data. As a Forrester thought leader notes, what truly defines IoT is its business impact — “the insights that you can derive with analytics and the business outcomes you can achieve.”[4]

And this gets to the heart of why HPC matters when it comes to the Internet of Things. The IoT isn’t just about capturing all kinds of data from devices that are in use. It’s about gaining rich insights from all of that data. HPC systems help digitally driven businesses get to those insights quickly, even in near real time, to increase their competitiveness.

For a closer look at how Sensus is proactively identifying IoT device performance trends and responding faster to customer needs using its big data cluster, read the case study “Sensing problems before they occur, with big data analytics.”


Making a difference with HPC

High performance computing touches virtually every aspect of our lives. HPC is making weather forecasts more accurate, cancer therapies more precise, fraud protection more foolproof and products more efficient. In this series of articles, we explore these and other use cases that capitalize on HPC and its convergence with data analytics to illustrate why HPC matters to all of us.


[1] Gartner, Inc., news release, “Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected ‘Things’ Will Be in Use in 2017, Up 31 Percent From 2016,” February 7, 2017.

[2] Gartner, “,” October 3, 2017.

[3] Dell EMC case study, “Sensing problems before they occur, with big data analytics,” August 2016.

[4] Christopher Voce, Forrester, “Predictions 2018: IoT Will Move From Experimentation To Business Scale,” November 16, 2017.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.