IoT Platform-01

A 20-step Guide to Choosing a Suitable IoT Platform

To solve this confusion, we’ve curated a complete guide on what Internet of Things (IoT) platforms are, their types, and things organizations must keep in mind while choosing one. We have also mentioned a detailed view of the Device Management Functionalities that one may wish out of their IoT platforms.

So, let’s get started.

What is an IoT Platform?

It’s an integrated service, a *middleware* solution, enabling simultaneous device connections on a network. Apparently considered the spine of an IoT framework, it connects edge hardware, access touchpoints, data networks, and everything across the value chain for leveraging the power of data. 

IoT_Platform-02_1An IoT platform must be robust and scalable enough to manage millions of concurrent device connections and allow configuration for machine-to-machine interactions. That’s a critical prerequisite in all circumstances.

An IoT Platform is instrumental in:

  • Plumbing hardware together, like sensors
  • Aggregating and analyzing data from sensors and delivering real-time insights
  • Controlling several hardware and software communication protocols
  • Adding security to authenticate devices on the network
  • Integrating everything with web services

IoT Platforms and Device Management Functionalities

Primarily, IoT platforms are expected to perform Device Management, Data Analytics, and Integration with Enterprise IT applications. Out of all, Device Management is the most crucial, especially because it has been radically evolving, so much so that the vendors are striving hard to match with the pace of Device Management requirements. 

The below list would help organizations evaluate Internet of Things platforms and enable them to take better decisions catering to their needs.

1.   Robust Architectural Support

  • Build vs. Buy

         i.       Available Out Of The Box (OOTB) functionality
         ii.      Additional development
         iii.     Time-to-market reduction

  • Scalability

         i.      Elastic scalability of the platform

  • Extensibility

         i.      Ability to extend the platform for custom requirements

  • Loose Coupling

         i.      Ability to Integrate with:
                •         Device
                •         Gateway
                •         Analytics platform
                •         Integration platform

2.   Device Registration and Decommissioning 

  • With agent model

          i.      Configuring and compiling an agent on a device
          ii.     Decommissioning an agent on a device

  • Without agent model
  • Support for existing hardware (devices) and software
  • Support for a variety of new devices
  • Support for bulk registration and decommissioning of devices
  • Ability to create devices types and logically group them
  • Support for the programmatic and non-programmatic approach of device registration and decommissioning

3.  Firmware and Software Management

  • Device and gateway firmware upgrades
  • Firmware version management
  • Device and gateway software upgrades
  • Software version management
  • Bulk devices firmware and software upgrades
  • Schedule firmware and software upgrades

4.   Operational Maintenance of Devices

  • Receive device diagnostics
  • Monitor current and historical device connectivity status
  • Alerts
  • Remotely control devices
  • Rebooting/Restarting the device remotely

5.   Devices Data Readability

  • Read sensor and machine data and make it available for external systems
  • Event-driven and create events

6.   Data Visualization and Reporting

  • Export reports
  • Create custom widgets and dashboards
  • Retrieve and report actionable insights

7.   Protocols and Messaging Standards Support

  • Support for device protocols

          i.     LWM2M etc.

  • Support for Data Protocols

          i.      MQTT
          ii.     REST API
          iii.    Web Socket
          iv.    CoAP
          v.     AQMP

  • Support for Communication Protocols

          i.      Wi-Fi
          ii.     BLE
          iii.    NFC
          iv.    ZigBee
          v.     WiMAX
          vi.    Cellular—GPRS, 2G, 3G, 4G LTE etc.
          vii.    LoRaWAN
          viii.   6LowPAN

  • Support for Semantic Standards

           i.     JSON
           ii.    Protobuf.

8.   Deployment Models based on the Enterprise IT Center of Gravity 

  • Cloud
  • Hybrid
  • On-Premise
  • Thin Edge
  • Thick Edge

9.   Integration with Enterprise IT

  • Cloud Integration
  • On-Premise Integration
  • B2B Integration
  • Ease of Integration using Standard APIs

10.  Multi-tenancy

  • Data partitioning for tenants
  • Custom domains for sub-tenants
  • Data logical/physical separation of data as desired

11.  Data Simulation

  • Support for test data simulation for SDLC

12.  Performance

  • Low latency in communication between devices and platforms
  • Real to near-real-time status of monitoring and device diagnostics
  • Low latency in bulk devices registration and decommissioning of devices
  • Low latency in bidirectional communication between devices and cloud

13.  Security

  • Physical Security

         i.      Security aspects for servers, storage, and network devices

  • Network Security

         i.      HTTPS support for device/custom Internet of Things applications to platform communication.

  • Application Security

         i.      Handle man-in-the-middle attacks
         ii.     Threat protection policies

  • Access Control

          i.      Role-based user provisioning
          ii.     User access

  • REST API Security

          i.      Basic authentication
          ii.     Digest Auth schemes support
          iii.    Token-based Auth support
          iv.    OAuth2.0 support
          v.     JWT support

14.  Support for SDKs in various programming languages

15.  Customization Support

  • Custom Web Applications
  • Custom Micro Services
  • Rebranding the Platforms

16.  Auditability and Retention

  • Data Storage.

17.  Ease of Development, Administration, and Maintenance

18.  Pricing Model and Cost Comparison

  • Cost-effective
  • Simpler pricing model
  • No hidden costs
  • Contract flexibility

19.  Human Resources Availability

  • Cost to hire talent is economical
  • Availability of resources
  • Implementation vendor has prior IoT implementation experience across the platforms
  • Implementation vendor is participating in IoT research

20.  Industry Credibility

  • Gartner Magic Quadrant positioning
  • Forrester ranking
  • Customer success stories
  • Customer references
  • Customer focus
  • Future strategy
  • Vendor responsiveness and ability to support
  • Credibility for other products from the vendor

Kellton is a long-standing partner of Software AG and uses its highly secure and robust IoT platform—Cumulocity IoT—to build smart device-to-device connectivity within transformative enterprises. This platform integrates all the physical devices to a single platform in order to achieve seamless data deliverability and facilitate insights while reducing risk. Using Cumulocity IoT, we have enabled data intelligence within a number of IoT-willing global enterprises and helped them scale with efficiency.