Ok, you have finalized the IoT product and ready to go with it, now what? Every company’s business solution is unique, depending on its desired business objectives and particular approach to implementation. That said, most will utilize some form of IoT platform and have to align with their IT capabilities or vice versa.
Most IoT projects are implemented using a distributed IoT platform (comprising IoT endpoints, IoT edge gateways, and IoT platform hub). So, the projects will leverage many, but not necessarily always all, of these technical attributes:
- Comprehensive PaaS: IoT platforms typically combine IoT-specific PaaS capabilities (device provisioning, management, and control and analytics) and general-purpose PaaS capabilities (application runtime, services choreography, contextual decision making and stream analytics). IoT project designers will be challenged to select the right product with the best combination of both types of PaaS capabilities to meet their project requirements.
- Distributed multitier architecture: IoT project designers should use different multitier architecture approaches to address different needs. Needs, according to the complexity of the equipment.
- Event-driven architecture: IoT projects are almost always implemented as event-driven, microservices-based architectures whereby IoT devices generate data and events that must be processed either at the IoT endpoint, IoT gateway or IoT platform hub (or some combination of these)
- Scalability: IoT projects could potentially include large numbers of IoT devices and IoT data volumes. The management of this much devices and information will be a daunting task for some companies that are already struggling to manage traditional master data.
- Autonomy: A defining characteristic of some IoT projects is the notion of autonomy – That is IoT endpoints with enough processing capability to manage, monitor and respond to the change in the condition of things on a local basis.
- Device management: Requirements include:
- Installing, provisioning and managing IoT endpoints.
- Securely and reliably connecting to those IoT endpoints
- Ingesting, managing, curating, and analyzing IoT data
- Analytics: IoT-driven innovations, such as condition-based maintenance, rely heavily on diverse forms of analytics, including:
- Edge data conditioning and lightweight analytics
- Real-time complex-event processing (CEP) and operational analytics
- Offline forensics and detailed analytical models
- Digital twins: A digital twin is a dynamic software model of a physical thing and system that monitors sensor data and other sources of information to understand its state, respond to changed, improve operations and add value.
- Information (Data) management: IoT adoption introduces new device master data and device data, which is a big challenge for information management.
- Network/Communication: Connectivity between IoT endpoints, IoT gateways, IoT platform hubs and back-end systems is an integral part of an IoT solution. And for this networking, the design includes network design and operations, physical layer selection, and application communication protocols.
- Integration: IoT business solutions generally cannot be fully implemented technically or fully realized commercially until they are seamlessly integrated with business applications to help improve core business process.
- Security: Adopters of IoT have cited IoT cybersecurity as their top technology challenge. The IoT cybersecurity requirements include:
- Risk and policy management and enforcement
- The ability to monitor, detect and respond to threats
- Distributed access control and management across IT assets, including data, applications, networks and platforms.
But, most of the time, you cannot find or buy an IoT business solution specifically designed to fully address a specific business objective. Most of the time, you must build it. This requires matching your business objectives to a particular application of the IoT, investing in new IoT technologies — including IoT devices and an IoT platform — that are well-suited to your specific needs, and then integrating these new technologies with your existing IT assets.
The first step in your journey from limited IoT projects to assembling an end-to-end IoT business solution is having a clear vision for the complete end-to-end architecture and its fundamental architectural building blocks, beginning with the distributed IoT platform suite Assembling several solutions can yield more complete functional capabilities, but the solutions are more likely to require a significant amount of system integration to work well together.
CIOs and directors of application infrastructure:
- Plan to invest in new IT skills because many IoT project characteristics (for example, multitier, event-driven architecture, digital twins and endpoint autonomy) will be new for most IT staff.
- When implementing IoT projects, consider leveraging an IoT service provider to help fill IT competency and resource gaps
- Identify architects, business process experts and business analysts who will work with business units to clarify business requirements, technical capabilities and the need to scale.
- Plan to supplement IoT platforms with other BOB tools for analytics, information management, security and so on.