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An Internet of Things Platform: What It Looks Like

March 24, 2017

 

Across all verticals and all around the developed world, enterprises are looking to the Internet of Things (IoT) to usher in an era of unprecedented business efficiency, agility, and competitiveness. The brave new world of machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity promises to identify patterns as they're happening, detect problems as they're emerging, and streamline business operations all the way from the consumer-facing end, through logistics, all the way to the manufacturing floor. And make no mistake, the Internet of Things is actually happening. It's not a trend that will fade away in a year's time.

But while most people are familiar with the endpoint concept of the Internet of Things—the idea that every device can be a sensor, collecting data and sending it off for analysis and interpretation—fewer have grasped the concepts of the backend systems that power the Internet of Things. Among those systems, the most critical is the Internet of Things platform.

At the most basic level, an Internet of Things platform is a cloud-based solution that unifies all of an organization's Internet of Things architecture. This IoT architecture itself can encompass many components: 

  • The mobile, wireless, and wide area networking needed to connect Internet of Things sensors to the backend
  • Data collection and management tools
  • Analytics applications
  • Associated enterprise systems such as ERP and CRM
  • The development tools needed to create the custom services the business requires in order to leverage the Internet of Things for its individual purposes.

By its very nature, the Internet of Things platform must reside in the cloud, whether public or private, in order to maintain connectivity both to backend services and front-end devices. It will typically make use of APIs and a variety of networking protocols to enable device and service interoperability

For organizations that expect to make significant use of IoT technology, whether to optimize manufacturing operations, IT functions, or customer-facing marketing campaigns or for any other purpose, unifying all IoT architecture in an Internet of Things platform will prove extremely helpful and in many cases necessary. By integrating all elements of the overall IoT ecosystem into a unified platform with a single administrator interface and orchestration capabilities, an organization can dramatically simplify management and improve responsiveness.  An Internet of Things platform can also improve device and application compatibility and can ease integration of the Internet of Things architecture into the wider IT ecosystem.

Finally, an Internet of Things platform can dramatically increase the overall security posture of an enterprise's Internet of Things deployment. While the Internet of Things offers near-endless benefits for businesses, it can also invite new attacks on businesses and their customers as hackers seek to steal consumer data or tamper with connected systems. Cybersecurity has grown enormously complicated in recent years thanks to mobility, BYOD, and new generations of threats. The Internet of Things adds even more complexity, given the fact that vast numbers of sensors could become both attack vectors and attack victims. An Internet of Things platform can ensure that appropriate security measures are applied end-to-end, across the entire ecosystem, rather than piecemeal in ways that can leave some devices or systems vulnerable.

As the Internet of Things continues its steady takeover of the enterprise, ambitious resellers can future-proof their businesses and ensure continued growth by becoming familiar with the IoT technologies their customers will most likely want.

Are you ready to take on the brave new M2M world? If not, contact us today for helpful resources and tips to get started.