With more and more ready-built modules and solutions available, it should be easier than ever to create new experiences for IoT.
But developers moving from prototype to deployment are still running into two crucial barriers: Finding the right connectivity option is harder than it looks, and achieving comprehensive security throughout the stack – hardware, firmware, data transmission, and the data itself – is fraught with issues.
These barriers require a purpose-built IoT connectivity platform to overcome.
And in order to achieve real scalability, IoT applications have to connect to the computing horsepower of the cloud. The cloud is designed to meet the most critical technological business drivers of the biggest brands. By solving for the largest problems with a platform approach, it’s also possible to provide value to the thousands of smaller companies looking for industry-specific, cloud-capable IoT use-case solutions.
Technology exists today that makes it the easiest it’s ever been to connect devices to the agility, economics, and scalability of the cloud. Let’s face it, connectivity options in America trickle down from plans originally designed for data-hungry smartphones, and present plenty of “gotchas” for IoT devices, including lock-ins, hidden prices, rising fees, and other little surprises that engineers and businesspeople love to hate. While some use cases do call for highly specialized and costly communications options, most IoT devices will leverage the cellular networks that are in place and whose technology roadmaps incorporate LTE-M and 5G.
IoT developers keep asking:
- What if I have no idea if my IoT product will take off? How can I get started while limiting upfront costs? How do I avoid getting into an unhealthy relationship with my comms provider by having to commit too much too early?
- As I prototype, can I visualize the data my device is producing without spinning up cloud services until I need them for production?
- Why should I make skinny-protocol devices speak fat-protocol application? Why code that adapter myself?
- Why do I have to keep transmitting hundreds of extraneous, repetitive security bytes with every single device communication, while the cellular opex meter is running? In fact, how can I spend less on my cellular bill for machines so that the ROI for my IoT product improves?
- Why do I have to fuss with several pieces of code and do heavy, undifferentiated lifting to connect devices to AWS Lambda or Kinesis, or Azure’s Event Hubs, or the Google Cloud?
- How can I get truly secure layer-two routing in my cloud environment, for that extra security that I require in the product I’m building?
A simpler model is what’s needed
Turns out, the answers to those questions are a take-what-you-need, pay-as-you-go model that promises to simplify, secure, and scale up alongside successful products.
It’s hard enough, as an innovator, to try to bring a new idea to light. That’s why pricing ought to be transparent, there shouldn’t be any contract to sign, and you ought to be able to stop the service and expense the moment you stop needing it. And if a provider comes along who does it better and promises more value, even embedded connectivity options should support portability standards.
A product roadmap and resources 100% focused on the unique needs of IoT developers is the right solution for unleashing the full promise of IoT products. Listening to developers regularly, and genuinely wanting to serve them, is critical to the ongoing success of any IoT communications platform.
It comes back to a few simple, key attributes:
- Simple: connect your device, provision it in the console, and it’s deployed. The inability to have the device connect in the wild is the biggest buzz-killer for IoT. That’s why it can’t be just one carrier’s SIM, nor just cellular: LoRa / LPWA / NB-IoT are important, too. So is Bluetooth for short-range, battery-backed devices. And supporting other standard connectivity that is needed to get challenges solved by leveraging a software platform, too, simplifies connectivity.
- Secure: offloaded encryption and authentication handling on the cloud, so makers can get the device out there and transmit its data with the assurance that it will arrive into the cloud environment.
- Scalable: from the foundation of a mobile communication core network implemented on the cloud as a service, the right platform benefits everyone from the single-SIM customer to the largest enterprise thanks to the elastic processing power of a telco operator network core.
To most benefit IoT builders, it’s important for the communications platform to specialize. Since no one company can do it alone, a broad, complementary partner ecosystem helps accelerates adoption and helps everyone succeed. Purpose-built connectivity that makes the IoT ever more accessible and cloud-capable will provide the key to unlocking the massive value of the connected experiences being designed today.