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What to Look for in an Internet of Things Platform

February 27, 2017

By now, you've no doubt heard the hype about the Internet of Things. In the mainstream press, much of the IoT buzz is focused around "sexy" consumer technologies like wearable tech and connected cars, which may make the Internet of Things seem slightly out of a reseller's wheelhouse. For the enterprise, however, the Internet of Things has a host of beneficial applications for business intelligence, supply chain optimization, equipment and plant monitoring and maintenance, and information security, making IoT a trend VARs need to know.

Tying the various sensors, databases, and analytics applications of an IoT deployment together is the Internet of Things platform, which is sometimes hardware-based and sometimes software-based. Here are three critical qualities to look for in an Internet of Things platform.

1. IPv6 support

Being the Internet of Things, IoT technologies will rely on IP networks to handle all the data those sensors capture and send off for processing. With that being said, an Internet of Things platform must support Internet Protocol, and since IPv4 addresses have been in short supply for some years now, with a rapidly declining number of remaining address blocks left to be claimed, IPv6 support is a must. An enterprise will need support for the large numbers of new IPv6 addresses to be allocated to its IoT sensors as well as to ensure multi-vendor interoperability and customization of the business's IoT applications.

2. Sophisticated, embedded security

All the potential of the Internet of Things comes at a potentially high security risk. When businesses begin mining, storing, and processing vast amounts of data, it's likely that at least some of that data will be high-value for cybercriminals and data thieves. In addition, the large amounts of IoT sensors that may connect to an Internet of Things platform all have the potential to become attack vectors, greatly increasing the vulnerability of an unsecure system. To avoid Internet of Things security woes, look for an Internet of Things platform that enables data encryption in transit both within and without the network and that provides robust authentication and granular access control enforcement mechanisms.

3. APIs

For businesses to make the most of their Internet of Things deployments, a certain amount of customization and application and infrastructure integration will be necessary. An Internet of Things platform will need clean, well-documented APIs—RESTful APIs in the best case scenario—to help organizations hook the various elements of their IoT initiative into the Internet of Things platform they've chosen.

The Internet of Things is one of the most exciting technological movements of the past few decades. The operational efficiencies it can enable, and the sophistication of the insights that savvy businesses will be able to extract from IoT, make it a winner for many organizations. The technology is still in its early stages, however. Vendors, resellers, and enterprise alike have much to learn before they can unlock the full results of the technology. What that means is that there's never been a better time to start learning. As the technology grows, you'll be in a position to grow your knowledge and your business with it.