Billions of IoT devices exist, and this number will only grow as internet connectivity becomes a standard feature for a growing number of electronic devices.  Although heavily integrated into the consumer electronics market, IoT extends far beyond handheld devices and home appliances.  Industrial IoT aims to increase manufacturing efficiencies, and smart city initiatives look to transform urban environments.

Device management’s role in making sense out of chaos

In a nutshell, IoT device management is the process of authenticating, provisioning, configuring, maintaining, and monitoring IoT devices.  Typically, this involves onboarding devices securely and maintaining the effectiveness of the device estate.  This process consists of applying any necessary firmware and software patches or updates and keeping a watching brief on the IoT solution’s general health.  IoT device management is continuous, throughout the device’s life cycle, from the cradle to the grave.

With billions of IoT devices already fielded and many more to come, the need for effective device management is only rising.  Often, there is an automatic association of IoT – given the “Internet” piece – with the Cloud and an assumption that everything IoT must be done “in the Cloud”.   While correct up to a point – after all, Internet connectivity is more-or-less fundamental to IoT – there are increasingly important factors that justify a rethink of this default mindset.

In this blog, the first of two, I will discuss the implementation considerations for an IoT device management service.  We will then be exploring some of the nuances that might make the difference between an IoT solution that delivers benefit or one that adds a burden.

IoT + Device Management = Cloud…yes…no…maybe?

Leveraging a Cloud-based software-as-a-service product offering is undoubtedly an obvious option; it is a common approach and comes with various benefits.  Indeed, the Pelion Device Management Cloud service is undoubtedly the right choice for many of our customers.  After all, the barrier-to-entry is low, it can enable a quick-start solution, and scaling up (or down) is more-or-less painless.  Accessing to the Cloud can be done from (almost) anywhere, and the flexibility that it provides, with today’s high-availability and geographic reach, is quite remarkable.

However, the on-premises type of deployment adds even more to that.  It provides capabilities to customize the environment and integrate features and integrations that are not part of the default cloud offerings.  It also offers a cost-effective and deterministic way to scale.  Support for an expanded device rollout comes with low incremental costs; once established, customers do not pay for additional devices, transactions, or data storage.

Why can the right-sized on-premises solution provide significantly more value than using a public cloud service? Here are a few considerations:

Where to from here?

While a Cloud-based product offering will be the right choice for some organizations, there is an alternative in the form of on-premises.  If one or more of these considerations align with your IoT project, then an on-premises implementation may be the solution to your problem.  Indeed, something of a best-of-both-worlds approach could be to deploy the on-premises implementation on a Cloud platform without open Internet access.  This configuration delivers a more secure solution than the public alternatives, offers greater control and oversight than a generic Cloud offering, and has the sought-after Cloud agility.

Our latest On-Premises White Paper details the case for managing your IoT estate on-Premises and the criteria for choosing the right platform for you.