IoT allows companies to transform their businesses, adopt IoT-enabled analytics, and more.
How can the cloud help you successfully implement IoT solutions? And what is the right way to implement cloud IoT? In this article, we will use one of N-iX's IoT-related case studies as a real-life example and find out.
But first, let’s focus on the benefits you can get by implementing the Internet of Things cloud.
IoT cloud: Key benefits
1. The ease of data integration of cloud IoT
Before the IoT era, most corporate data was generated by CRM, ERP, and other enterprise systems. IoT, however, has changed the data game. IoT sensors can provide real-time insights and visibility on the operation of all business areas. Thus, you can achieve optimization of the business processes. However, now many businesses struggle to store data from different sources and of different formats.
This is the moment when cloud IoT solutions kick in. With the help of cloud IoT systems, it gets possible to store the data from the enterprise systems, IoT sensors, and other types of data in the very same cloud environment. As a result, there is no longer a need for data integration and recurrent audits of different storages - it can be done on a single cloud platform.
2. High security of Internet of Things cloud
Security is among the most pressing concerns of modern businesses. However, cloud providers offer a shared responsibility model. This means that when businesses choose to host their data on the cloud, they entrust security, as well as augmenting and optimizing their operational capabilities to a cloud provider. Thus, you choose a level of responsibility you have over the cloud.
Cloud providers offer regular security regulations and patches to ensure the maximum security of your cloud IoT system.
For instance, AWS provides consistent monitoring, security, and incident management best practices.
3. Scalability of IoT cloud
One of the most significant benefits of the Internet of Things cloud is the high scalability of such a system. Compared to on-premise infrastructure, when you have to purchase physical machines if the load on your system has risen, scaling of the cloud requires just a few clicks. It is especially important when your business has periods of higher loads. For instance, supply chains of retail platforms typically have load peaks during holiday seasons or Black Friday.
With the cloud, you can also scale up or down the number of IoT-enabled devices if you need it.
4. Faster time to market
As a result of the high scalability of cloud IoT systems, it typically takes less time to implement new solutions. Cloud-based IoT infrastructure is more profitable when the time to market is a critical business factor.
However, all these benefits come hand in hand with some challenges. Let’s take a look at them together.
IoT cloud: key challenges
IoT configuration management
Enterprises need to integrate each IoT device into the cloud with optimal security settings. Setting up each device properly when it is first deployed, then maintaining that configuration, preventing any unauthorized changes and reporting any change attempts to administrators is vital.
Although you can encrypt data once it's stored in the cloud, IoT data is vulnerable while in transit. However, most IoT devices don't encrypt data in transit.
Storage and low portability
The cloud is well-suited for IoT deployments because storage is readily available and highly scalable. However, cloud storage costs rise with increases in capacity and traffic.
While it typically costs nothing to put data into cloud storage, it can be expensive to move it out later. We will discuss the way to make the solution more portable later in the article. It's usually a good idea to put compute and storage resources in the same cloud to process the stored IoT data.
Now, let’s take a look at other challenges that can arise when implementing the Internet of Things cloud and ways to address these challenges.
How to implement IoT cloud successfully: A success story IoT device manufacturer
Our client is one of the biggest IoT device manufacturers in Europe. The company has three key business units: manufacturing, connectivity solutions development, and IoT.
The IoT business unit provides device-tracking and asset-tracking solutions to enterprises with the help of the SaaS platform. The platform is a hub for IoT devices that supports industrial protocols. It manages connected devices and transmits their data to third-party services, such as SAP and Salesforce. The client partnered with us to boost the platform’s scalability and make the process of data transmission easier.
How N-iX helps overcome IoT cloud challenges
When this partnership started, our experts faced a number of challenges they needed to overcome. Let’s view these challenges and ways to mitigate them in more detail.
Cloud IoT challenge: Legacy monolith architecture
The platform of our client had a legacy monolithic architecture that was difficult to scale. Their data was stored on AWS, with no ability of auto-scaling.
Solution: To overcome the problem of low scalability, our experts opted for a cloud-native approach and enabled modernization through re-platforming of the applications and enabling cloud-native services. With the ability of auto-scaling, their SaaS platform is now easier to manage and access.
What’s more, N-iX specialists performed containerization using technologies like Docker and Kubernetes to make the platform even more scalable.
Cloud IoT challenge: The absence of containerization
Containerization is critical, as it helps you make the application portable. Containers transform all OS-level dependencies, runtime, libraries, and configurations of the app into a single runnable image. This means that containers can be launched on almost any platform with no customization of the host environment required.
Containerization also boosts workload density. As compared to Virtual Machines or VMs, containers are much more effective in using compute resources. This, in turn, results in both cost and time optimization. So, in this client’s case, the absence of containerization has made the application difficult to work with.
Solution: Our experts used technologies like Docker and Kubernetes to perform containerization. We have migrated the platform to AWS cloud, using cloud-native services and best cloud practices. That, in turn, will help mitigate the following challenge of our client, namely, no clear division between business units in the system architecture.
Cloud IoT challenge: No clear division between business units in the system architecture
As we have already mentioned, the absence of clear division in the architecture between business units is a true challenge. The users of the units - CMR manufacturing, connectivity solutions development, and IoT are different and need different approaches.
First off, the client needed to separate the IoT unit and develop a new platform for its customers. This business department cooperates with companies that need integration with telecom operators, SIM-card management, and other services.
Solution: Our experts are implementing architecture changes that will allow dividing the business units to operate on different platforms. Cloud makes the implementation of these changes smoother and more efficient. What’s more, this division in architecture makes the testing processes easier, as the IoT business unit now runs in a separate environment.
Overall, within our partnership, N-iX experts have:
- Performed containerization of their application with Docker to make the solution portable;
- Implemented DevOps best practices;
- Improved testing;
- Adopted cloud-native approach (on AWS cloud);
- Streamlined CI/CD processes;
- Improved operational efficiency and support;
- Enhanced scalability due to cloud migration.
Also, at each stage of our cooperation, we implement best security practices to ensure the highest degree of data protection.
To learn more about IoT and cloud security
How to succeed in IoT cloud implementation?
Years of experience with IoT helped us find several best practices that significantly improve the chances of successful delivery of such projects. Let’s take a closer look together.
Put a strategy in the lead
The idea of adopting IoT is often aimed to improve an existing process or solve a specific problem. A PoC can be conducted in a trial environment to test the feasibility of the technical solution. One of the common mistakes is to focus too much on the technology while strategy remains in the back seat at the beginning of the project.
Enterprises should define the vision and short-term and long-term objectives that they are trying to achieve with IoT.
Form a dedicated team
The responsibility for developing a connected product cannot be placed solely within R&D or the IT department. It requires a dedicated cross-functional team that includes representatives from all the main functions such as IT, R&D, product management, marketing, sales, finance, HR.
Some large companies go as far as setting up the offshore development team in an outsourcing destination. Such an approach allows to reach better and faster recruitment, entrusting all HR, administrative, and infrastructure processes, avoiding administrative and management overhead, ensuring better flexibility and scalability, and mitigating security and legal risks.
Start small and transform gradually
Companies should start with implementing IoT and transforming their business first on a small scale. You may begin with a small team, building a PoC of your IoT solution, and scale it up later. This, in fact, is one of the most important reasons why you should go for creating a dedicated development team. The vendor you choose to partner with will help you scale a team up or down whenever your business needs it.
Why embrace the IoT cloud with N-iX?
- N-iX provides a wide array of IoT-related services, such as gateway development, cloud adoption, and connectivity solutions;
- N-iX specialists have profound knowledge of C/C++ programming languages which are commonly used in IoT systems development;
- N-iX is a partner of global cloud providers. The vendor is a certified AWS Select Consulting Partner, a Microsoft gold certified partner, and a Google Cloud Platform Partner;
- We comply with PCI DSS, ISO 9001, ISO 27001, and GDPR international security standards;
- The vendor providers professional DevOps services, such as cloud adoption, building and streamlining CI/CD processes, security issues detection and prevention, firewall-as-a-service, and others.