Gartner estimates that there will be 25 billion things connected to the Internet by 2020. These things come in various shapes and sizes—from smartphones to streetlights to cars, and all the way up to a $1 billion gas turbine.

The IoT is exploding because it is now relatively cheap to embed devices with smart sensors that can detect a variety of factors, such as temperature, vibration, sound, motion or location; or else read information embedded in bar codes, strips, and chips. The challenge, however, is how to process all the data and make sense of it.

One major challenge is that business have to overcome obstacles with network traffic: By the time data from hundreds or thousands of IoT devices is transmitted to a central location or the cloud for quick analysis—even if that takes only a few minutes—the data could lose its value. Response times of a minute or less are crucial for many applications, including power production from solar facilities, driverless cars, smart lighting, security cameras, as well as monitoring ill patients.