The Internet of Things has us all “covered” from every direction and need. It is close to 25 billion today and could be in the range of 75 billion in just a few years, with its worth close to USD 4 billion. Taking every industry by storm, the sheer proliferation of IoT devices and their related protocols and systems may turn a boon into a bane. What adds to the complexity in the industrial scenario is that they don’t simply connect two devices but a whole load of them under an entire ecosystem. Their numbers could run in hundreds and come in all shapes, sizes, configurations, standards, and protocols.
The need of the hour is a platform that could connect IoT devices not just within an industrial ecosystem but within ecosystems themselves. There are several free and open-source IoT platforms available to get started. But what do businesses need to evaluate to pick the right one?
Choosing an IoT Platform
Here’s how to pick the best IoT platform:
Understanding Your Need
Do you need an IoT platform that consists of just a few IoT devices interconnected between themselves to create an ecosystem? Or are you a giant enterprise with connected devices across the globe with equipment on land, sea, and air, and all communicating simultaneously? The former would suffice with a simple setup where the output of one machine or system becomes the input of another. The latter would require a high level of expertise to manage a vast and diverse network with zero leaks and breaches. The network wouldn’t always be of machines and could include human elements – so understanding one’s needs is of prime importance.
IoT devices by themselves are an industry these days whose numbers and complexity only increase with the latest technology. With needs evolving, IoT platforms, besides transmitting essential data, also speak of management and maintenance of IoT devices within the network and details that represent status, faults, death, etc. Every new device being integrated into a network increases the complexity of the network.
It’s one thing to collect data using IoT devices and platforms, and quite another to manage and integrate it with existing and newer data that’s being generated by the seconds. Add to this data from other sources, including social media, websites, and voice-activated devices, and you understand what complexity is all about. Machine-to-machine language could be one thing. Imagine trying to integrate it into common human languages. The strength of the best IoT platform, industrial or otherwise, is its ability to integrate information from myriad sources to form a coherent whole.
Different Types of Industrial IoT Platforms
IoT Connectivity Management Platforms
The IoT Connectivity Management platforms deal with all the networking components of an IoT system and provide its users with the right type of connecting hardware, related software, and software for directing data to keep devices functioning online as desired. Such networks are built on the back of existing infrastructure and can also have WiFi to facilitate the IoT setup.
IoT Device Management Platforms
These are platforms that take care of the IoT devices in a more physical sense while making sure devices that are supposed to be connected are truly connected and secure in their activity. Such IoT platforms update the users of the existence of IoT-related devices, changes that occur (expected or otherwise), and necessary metrics that they record. Most of all, they patch up devices in the event of leaks and keep up security. Using such an IoT platform helps its users do routine maintenance of devices irrespective of how many devices have been deployed for an activity. The Device Management Platforms is one purely meant for maintenance and upkeep of devices.
IoT Cloud Platforms
As we all know, the cloud is a shared facility – be it for data storage or data crunching for defined output. That said, the cloud has all the advantages of a shared facility. There’s nothing physical about it; it can be scaled and remains secure with both input and output data. Enterprises can put the same system to create the complete backend of an IoT system that takes care of data storage and processing.
IoT Application Enablement Platforms
Such a platform is a complete and integrated IoT ecosystem that lets users get an IoT system up and running in the shortest time. It provides everything to a user, be it device, support, software, or ways of easy deployment for quick turnaround. Used mainly by newbies, when kicking off the idea, it’s the true ‘single-window’ that provides turn-key solutions with network configuration, bringing in the right manpower, hardware, and maintenance.
IoT Advanced Analytics Platforms
What’s the end-use of IoT and all the data and information it generates? Analytics! An IoT Advanced Analytics platform is the way to go for those looking for sophistication beyond the mundane. The better ones in the pack invariably use the whole gamut of AI, ML, advanced modeling, and the like to gather information from entire data stacks and lakes to interpret likely trends and predictions. This is one platform that ought to be looked at where it’s about raking up data for a purpose rather than storage and processing.
Benefits of IoT Platforms
Given the sheer range of activities IoT networks play, they bring quite a few benefits to their users. Among others, these include –
Setting up an IoT platform that’s up and running from the word go could be a task. It thus makes sense to use the services of SAAS models that let you pay-as-you-go without the burden of maintenance and upkeep.
An organization can get real-time information on the status and performance of equipment. IoT platforms capture data from myriad sources and enable better predictive analysis on when and why maintenance may be needed and to what extent. This helps optimize the use of parts and equipment and reduces costs overall.
IoT platforms that help create digital twins are known to point to areas where extra capacities of machines and equipment can be put to better use to derive more at less cost and time.
IoT devices on their own are known for limited capacities at security. Bolstering the same are IoT platforms that, due to their architecture and size, have the wherewithal to provide identity management activities, including secure authentication and authorization, that enable weak end-points to ward off cyberattacks.
Implementing IoT is the way forward for business but also a challenging task. An enhanced IoT Platform will enable an organization to connect assets, embed sensors and tags, transmit data, remotely monitor and control the ecosystem and perform predictive analysis – all at lightning speed and with high accuracy.