Back to Basics: 3 Challenges We Still Need to Overcome In IoT

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As the IoT expands, we also see signs that those innovative developers, SMBs, and SMEs are growing in maturity. As recently as two years ago, questions clustered around the price per megabit for IoT connectivity, but now, broader challenges face us. Kenta Yasukawa, CTO and co-founder of Soracom, analyzes three key challenges that we need to overcome to benefit from the Internet of Things truly.

There’s no doubt that the IoT is now officially reaching scale. Analyst firm Statista says that by 2025, more than 75 billion connected devicesOpens a new window will be in use globally. 

Innovators have experienced a few successes (or false starts) and are thinking about the broader challenges in building an IoT ecosystem. They want to learn about how to manage connections throughout the project’s lifecycle, how to offload processing from devices to the cloud, how to work with provisioning and credentials, and much more. 

These growing pains have been persistent. Many companies are just starting their IoT initiatives and may not have previous experience. Concerns like security, cloud integration and SIM lifecycle management may remain on the back burner – until something goes wrong. 

Security Is Key

When people build an IoT system, security tends to be given lower priority for solution and device developers – the process was often seen as “someone else’s problem.” IoT systems might fail to get periodic security updates, making them vulnerable to hackers and other malware attacks. Without a secure foundation and frequent updates, data is at risk. With breaches at an all-time high, IoT innovators recognize the need to have a layer of security to put the devices on. 

One use case that shows how IoT security is being implemented is an intelligent irrigation management solution that provides services to various grower types. The company needed a cloud-based architecture to simplify the transition from their legacy on-premises systems to AWS by providing a secure, bi-directional cellular link between their edge devices and their AWS virtual private connection (VPC).  

Companies are beginning to invest in solutions that route data that hackers cannot access. Keeping IoT devices off the public internet by using private networks built from the ground up can help secure deployments, reducing or in some cases eliminating many of the attack vectors that have negatively impacted previous IoT projects. Customers have two choices when taking this path: 

    • Route traffic directly to their back end of choice (cloud or on-premises) without using the public internet
    • Create a private IoT LAN to route data from device to cloud and back

See More: Beyond an IoTa of Doubt: 9 Essentials for IoT Security

Cloud Integrations

Because many IoT deployments occur in places where access may be limited, the complexity of the device-side processing must be reduced. This means that interacting with a cloud endpoint requires the implementation of client-side logic, authentication, and encryption. Businesses need the flexibility of advanced cloud integrations that can help to shift compute precisely where it’s needed between the network edge and cloud while having the ability to connect directly to public clouds or an on-premises private network. 

One example of advanced cloud integrations in action is a personal mobility device that is looking to solve the following challenges:

    • Seamless connectivity throughout the world
    • Communications overhead to integrate with the cloud
    • Battery consumption due to encryption for HTTPS
    • A flexible approach to system configuration to enable faster development speed

When testing new features, this company builds prototypes that they loan to customers to refine development using real-life statistics and feedback. Previously, the company needed to visit prototype users and manually adjust the device’s settings. This took a significant amount of manual labor and delayed bringing a product to market. To accelerate releases, the company selected a global “smart connectivity” provider that allows them to manage vehicles worldwide remotely. The same solution enables the vehicle to use lightweight UDP to reduce data cost. By leaving the heavy lifting to the cloud, not the device, the company has reduced development time and kept battery consumption down. In this case, the company saw a 30% reduction in battery consumption.

See More: How Wireless Power Is Up-Leveling Industrial IoT

SIM Lifecycle Management

As mentioned earlier, price is not the only consideration when selecting an IoT connectivity provider. IoT innovators need to look at several factors, including total cost of ownership (TCO), of which lifecycle management is one consideration. More sophisticated IoT innovators have several questions on costs throughout an IoT device’s lifecycle, which includes pre-commissioning, commissioning, and decommissioning, such as:

    • How is connectivity integrated when a device is activated?
    • What costs will occur as the device is actively in service?
    • How is connectivity disabled, so the customer is not charged when a device reaches the end of its lifecycle?

Elements like deployment, visibility into operations, remote upgrades, device and service commission and decommissioning and others are integral to a successful IoT implementation. They should be considered when researching IoT connectivity and the lifecycle of an IoT device. 

One use case for lifecycle management now under consideration is whether a company needs to pay to keep a device connected even when it’s not in use. For example, an IoT innovator may manufacture a device in China, test it in another location and then ship it to retailers worldwide. It could be two to three months or longer before a customer purchases and activates the device for use. The ability to put the SIM card on pause between testing and everyday use and then reactivate it when needed can help reduce TCO.  

See More: MWC 2022: Industry Insights from ZARIOT on Succeeding with eSIM Implementation

Into the Future

The IoT is growing rapidly and finally living up to industry expectations long projected. Despite the sophistication of today’s devices and developers, there are still plenty of stumbling blocks. Processes like security, cloud integration and lifecycle management often remain on the back burner – until something goes wrong. Getting these simple things right means developers can work on even more pressing matters. When it comes to leveraging future benefits, we are limited only by our imagination.

Do you think security, cloud integration and lifecycle management need to take center stage right away? Tell us on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to get your take on this!

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