Testing the Internet of Everything: An Interview with Paul Gerrard


In this interview, STARWEST keynote speaker Paul Gerrard shares his perspective on the scale, variety, ubiquity, complexity, and challenge of the Internet of Things, explaining his test approach for this trend and where he thinks it might go.

Josiah Renaudin: Today I'm joined by Paul Gerrard, of Gerrard Consulting, who will be a keynote speaker at this year's STARWEST Conference. He'll be speaking with us on testing the Internet of Everything. Paul, thank you very much for joining us today.

Paul Gerrard: My pleasure.

Josiah Renaudin: First, could you tell us just a bit about your experience in the industry.

Paul Gerrard: Many years ago, I did a degree in engineering. My first job was as a civil engineer with a consulting engineering firm. What was interesting to me right away is that within a few days they said, "Well, we've no work in, but we've just had a computer delivered. Here are the manuals, go find a quiet place and go and see what you can do with it." I went from an engineer briefly to writing software for engineering company, to another engineering company as a software person and applications programmer. Then I went to an IT company. Historically, I worked as a developer through to a project manager for about ten, twelve years. For the last twenty years or so, I've been in software testing. I've done the usual grunt testing work, but primarily I've been a consultant doing test management strategy, coaching, training, the usual kind of stuff. Here I am now. Overall though, I should say that I'm still a techie at heart. I still write a lot of code. That's me in a nutshell I guess.

Josiah Renaudin: Your keynote's on something that I feel like everyone's talking about. It's something I write about a lot. It's the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything. Why do you think it's become such a hot topic?

Paul Gerrard: The superficial answer would be that companies like IBM and Cisco and Microsoft and these very large companies are investing billions of dollars building up their business in order to make a lot more money than that. The hype that surrounds the Internet of Things, Internet of Everything, call it what you like, is derived really from the marketing effort that's going on by these big businesses. I should also say there's a big drive within the mobile community and the consumer electronics community, to take advantage of the connectivity that's now available for those smallest as well as the largest of devices out there. For example, I went to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a few months ago. Half of the discussion, debate, the conference and the massive expo that was there, at least half of it was about the connected world and the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything.

Interesting to me is Lee Copeland asked me, "What's the official term now?" What did I think? "Is it the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything? What should it be?" What was interesting to me in Barcelona, was I did a search of all the topic areas and all the contents of the website for this 95,000-person conference and expo, and it seemed to me the Internet of Everything was the emerging label that we're putting on this kind of thing. There's a broader thing, too. This is probably the way I would position the whole talk and this aspect of our business, is that what was the Internet of Things, is becoming the Internet of Everything. Everything that moves and an awful lot of things that don't move are going to be connected in this wonderful world of the future. I think what's going to happen in the next few years is we'll evolve from using Internet of Things, to the Internet of Everything, to just the Internet.

The Internet as we know it will become, or will absorb, what people are currently thinking of as the Internet of Everything. That is it's going to be ten times bigger, one hundred times bigger. Who knows? No one knows. That's the point. I like the idea of it becoming just "the Internet." The Internet will accommodate all these things that are connected in the future.

Josiah Renaudin: We're seeing so many new things being connected. I was just writing the other day about a mailbox with some sort of connected device that lets you know when it's opening and closing. People even in grocery stores are using the Internet to decide, "Here's this freezer aisle, and we'll know when to up the temperature and down the temperature to make sure we're preserving different items." What are some of the most interesting objects or devices that have come from the Internet of Things that you've seen?


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