When first looking at an Internet of Things (IoT) project, you might think it looks cut-and-dry. Then the proverbial rug is pulled from under you.
Surely, it’s just about devices and keeping them connected to the Internet, right? It SHOULD be easy; but in reality, most companies find that they’re facing a challenge that looks more like a jigsaw puzzle – and sometimes a few pieces have fallen on the floor.
Thoughtfulness and planning are key to solving this IoT jigsaw puzzle. You need to know how the pieces fit with your wider enterprise IT landscape (apps/data/processes).
In other words, you must become familiar with all your pieces, choose the right ones at the right time, and ensure you have a usable workspace to create your masterpiece.
From implementation to integration, the analogy fits IoT when you think about it. Knowing where all the “edges” are will make all the difference.
Start with your devices
You know what data you need to advance toward your goal, but have you found the devices that will lead you there? How do you make the most of devices you already own, while also incorporating new ones?
- How will your devices connect to your IoT platform?
In order to make the most of your data, fast and reliable communication methods are needed. Will Bluetooth® be necessary? What is the best way for your devices to communicate? Wifi? 4G/5G? LPWA? LoRa? How do you get the best data communication without breaking your budget?
- How will you secure and track those devices?
Knowing how you want your devices to communicate should be one of the biggest considerations for how you implement IoT– and how you’ll track and audit all those devices. Authentication is a must. There are a wide variety of protocols, like MQTT, you’ll need to consider when comes to message transmission and data encryption.
- Lastly, how will you maintain those devices?
With potentially 1,000s of devices now connected, it’s imperative that you’re able to maintain and update the device firmware, especially as networks continue to make frequent security advancements. Over-the-Air (OTA) updates are necessary to keep your device firmware up to date.
The IoT platform type you choose will determine the kind of workspace for your jigsaw puzzle, as this is where all the bits and pieces of your puzzle are joined.
What kind of platform will you need?
- A clean slate
This one’s for the true jigsaw master. No hints, to looking at the box cover, but freedom to simply build. If you know how to write code and want the freedom to build into your own IoT solutions, this kind of platform will suit you.
- “Comes with directions”
Some of us like to look at the puzzle’s picture in advance. We don’t want to consult it with every piece but like to know it’s there if we need it. This is why some IoT platforms provide you with the building blocks to get started. Their software development tools give you a helping hand as you dive into building your IoT solutions.
- “Ready to go”
You know when you open your puzzle and you jump for joy that some of the pieces are already put together? That’s closer to this type of IoT platform. Maybe you’re in OT (operational technology), and you require some major innovation - that’s why you’re interested in IoT. You’re not trying to build anything from scratch. You’re looking to harness the work of IoT experts and industry-specific knowledge, leveraging pre-built IoT technology to quickly find a solution.
Here is the last big question:
- Where will your IoT platform live?
Will it be on-premises? In the cloud? At the edge? The answer will depend on several requirements, including security and cost.
If you need complete control over your hardware, software, and data storage, on-premise is the way to go. If purchasing and managing hardware isn’t something you want to tackle, an IoT platform hosted in a dedicated cloud might be the best option for you. Companies who have less stringent security requirements and want to save costs could benefit from a selecting a SaaS-based IoT platform.
Set up those first “puzzle pieces” – your edge pieces – and the rest of the picture will start to make itself known.
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