As more and more vendors build connected products, the number of connected devices is likely to increase. However, based on our experience, the key challenge lies not in the quantity of devices, but in their heterogeneous, secure, and diverse capabilities across multiple industries. On the contrary, it reliably addresses the heterogeneity, security, and diversity of continuously evolving IoT devices.

In reality, businesses and OEMs seek to integrate multiple systems to improve efficiency, which requires continuous data collection from various sensors to be later used by applications for informed business decision-making. To facilitate interaction between connected devices and business applications, IoT gateways and cloud-based IoT platforms are continuously evolving.


Challenge: Connecting IoT Devices to Cloud Services

Today, billions of devices are already connected, but not all devices can communicate with cloud-based applications or platforms. These devices, known as "edge" devices, can be hardware sensors, consumer devices, industrial controllers, or other industrial devices residing on dedicated or potential proprietary networks. Furthermore, developing the information flow path from these edge devices to cloud service gateways poses several challenges, including:

Connecting devices built on various hardware platforms: Original equipment manufacturers invest significant time and resources in hardware platforms involving complex processors, optimal memory, efficient power management, multiple sensors, various electronic modules, embedded software applications, and embedded operating systems.


Reducing network latency: Many IoT devices send data at very high rates, sometimes overwhelming the available network bandwidth. This necessitates robust network topology architecture to achieve faster device-to-cloud communication. For instance, a temperature sensor can send hundreds of bytes within a fraction of a second, potentially generating terabytes of data in a month, resulting in significant potential data transfer costs.


Complexity of gateway orchestration/data routing: Gateway devices can handle potential data flooding on various proprietary network protocols to achieve seamless connectivity with edge devices. However, converting data into a universal format and simultaneously sending it to multiple systems/applications may present a challenge due to different methods or protocols themselves.


Additionally, gateways require consolidation of specific rules or orchestration that helps applications define which data is actionable and which data is redundant based on specific business needs.


Solution: Building a Unified Cloud IoT Platform as a Service to Connect Multiple Devices to Cloud Services

An IoT platform encompasses a comprehensive set of integration technologies that enable OEMs and enterprises to easily and quickly configure and manage almost any IoT product deployment. Cloud-based IoT platforms empower businesses to connect diverse hardware-based devices, collect terabytes of data, and send processed contextual data to different cloud applications that can scale from simple proof-of-concepts to comprehensive commercial deployments across various industries.

However, on the other hand, its reliability, scalability, and robustness are constantly questioned. Any IoT cloud platform should include the following key functionalities:


Device connectivity: IoT cloud platforms allow out-of-the-box connectivity using MQTT, AMQP (both via WebSocket), and HTTPS, as well as prebuilt patterns and protocol translation capabilities for BLE, Zigbee, Thread, and other protocols.


Device management: IoT cloud platforms provide out-of-the-box robust device management mechanisms to configure and connect device inventories, track their operational status, handle configuration and firmware updates, manage device-level error reporting and handling, while keeping devices and sensors up to date and functional.


Data Acquisition: IoT cloud platform services enable the ingestion of diverse data formats and types, normalize incoming data, and store the data, facilitating bidirectional data transmission from remote devices to cloud web services. Additionally, cloud-based IoT platforms as a service empower manufacturers to easily understand the performance of interconnected products and the end-user experience, enabling them to provide better customer service, reduce support and maintenance costs, offer new value-added services and features to end-users, and improve the design and functionality of future products.


End-to-End Security: To ensure end-to-end security of IoT solutions, IoT platforms implement layered security from sensors and hardware platforms to network topology and cloud-based software platforms through features such as device authentication and validation based on RSA keys, secure web sockets, fully encrypted sessions on wireless local area networks (WLAN), SSL-driven HTTPS protocol, password-protected secure access to the IoT platform, etc. The cloud platform ensures that:

  • Only authorized users can access specific connected devices.


  • Data access by unauthorized entities is prevented.


  • Cloud data access is blocked by another cloud entity.


  • User networks are protected from hacking and phishing attempts.


In summary

In conclusion, IoT cloud platforms are fundamentally changing the business models as we know them through rapid adoption and expansion.


Based on our experience, most manufacturers will find that building an IoT platform would be overly challenging, costly, and time-consuming, considering all the factors and skills involved in the process. To confidently embark on IoT projects, OEMs and enterprises leverage industry-leading and well-known platforms that have undergone readiness, compatibility, and usability testing.

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