The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) is spurring nearly every product manufacturer and service provider to create some kind of device that communicates information about its current condition and the condition of what’s around it. The fast pace of IoT development has spawned a bewildering variety of device configurations, each with their own attributes, data structures, and peculiarities. In addition, companies are deploying variations of devices, each designed to meet specific purposes. As a result, your ability to manage IoT devices is quickly disappearing.
Eventually a set of standards will emerge to help you manage IoT devices, but that day seems far away. While initial standards like XMPP and MQTT are being adopted as transport protocols to ease the tasks of connecting devices and gathering data, they don’t address back-end tasks, such as storage, firmware updates, and event triggers.
Emerging IoT management platforms will face the same hurdles that previous management platforms – as well as existing platforms specific to the IoT world – have struggled with. What’s more, the fact that IoT devices rely on Internet connectivity puts them firmly in the realm of the mobile-first generation. Many of these devices may not change position after initial placement, which makes the IoT management platform a natural fit as a Platform as a Service (PaaS).
A successful IoT PaaS starts by addressing these three issues:
1. Configuration management. Eventually standards work their way into the design of IoT devices. But even when they are mature and well-disseminated, variations of these standards will still be in use across the spectrum of IoT devices. The level of detail required to connect to and update configurations is currently complex and will remain so, even when standards are widely implemented. A viable management platform needs to be able to hide complexity and automate firmware version checking, updates, and configuration changes across the range of devices your enterprise deploys now and in the future.
2. Analytics. IoT is set to become the chief source of big data because of the volume of devices and the nature of the tasks it is designed to accomplish. The deluge of inbound data will be meaningless without sophisticated, reliable analysis. To complicate matters, many IoT devices targeted at industrial uses are meant to deliver real-time information about their environment and monitored processes. Management platforms for enterprises involved in these activities need to be robust and incorporate analytic capabilities that can handle high data volumes in real time.
3. Integration. Remote devices can collect and distribute data. Without being integrated with existing ERP and CRM systems, the information provided by these remote devices will require manual evaluation, processing, and conversion before the data can be fully utilized. Your IoT management system must be able to connect seamlessly with existing enterprise systems in order to fully deliver on the potential of IoT deployments. The widely diverse population of IoT devices will continue to hinder extracting the full value of investments. Enterprises that are able to identify and implement capable IoT management systems will be the first to realize the benefits of their efforts.
See how AT&T is providing the IoT technology, services, and platforms you need to smooth your transition to IoT.
Scott Koegler is a technology journalist with a specialization on the intersection of business and technology. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.