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Scalability in IoT Defined
Enterprise IoT

Scalability in IoT Defined

Explore the critical importance of scalability in IoT, enabling businesses to seamlessly grow their interconnected systems and devices. From selecting enterprise-grade devices to the network infrastructure, discover key strategies for successful IoT deployments. Embrace scalability as a cornerstone for future-proofing your IoT initiatives and maximizing their long-term impact.

The global demand for the Internet of Things (IoT) is accelerating rapidly, with reports projecting the market value to reach over $650.5B by 2026. As enterprises continue seeking IoT solutions to solve business challenges and turn to technology for automation, efficiencies, and cost savings, there is a pressing need to accommodate the growth of interconnected devices, sensors, and systems that collect and exchange data over the internet.

Simply put, it's about prioritizing scalability and planning for it at the outset. Doing so allows enterprises to develop a strategy and move frictionlessly from pilot to full-scale deployment with an infrastructure capable of accommodating exponential growth and incremental use cases. It starts with understanding key aspects of IoT related to scale while recognizing common challenges and learning how to overcome them. 

Plentiful Devices  

Scaling an IoT solution to thousands or millions of devices is complex and challenging. One reason is that there are plenty of device options available. A recent report shows the IoT device market is currently estimated at $98B and is expected to see a 23% CAGR over the next five years to reach $336B. With many devices in the market, seeking proven, enterprise-grade options is critical for scale and success.  

So, what makes a device enterprise-grade? Some considerations include device capabilities, battery life, and functionality. For example, if a business is looking to deploy remote monitoring solutions such as temperature or water leak monitoring, leveraging a versatile multi-sensor device that can be configured and used for both scenarios is ideal, enabling the enterprise to increase use cases with simplicity, dependability, and speed. Additionally, it allows companies to integrate multiple applications using the same network infrastructure – if they’re leveraging a scalable one; more on that later – for faster deployment.  

Following device selection is the need for a powerful IoT device management system that allows quick, seamless onboarding of an ever-growing number of devices via the collective tools, expertise, and technologies needed to provision, monitor, and maintain these connected objects en masse. This system should include standardized, repeatable, simple, and scalable processes to ensure data security and network efficiency, tactical provisioning, and configuring devices to begin sending and receiving data, commands, or updates. Additionally, attention to lifecycle management of the device, such as support for firmware updates over the air (FUOTA), will drive a lower total cost of ownership while enabling new features, security patches, and ongoing reconfigurations as the solution grows with dynamic enterprise needs.  

Finally, consideration of the device’s battery life, dependent on the use case, is essential. Looking for one that can last up to ten years on a single, replaceable battery presents enterprises with a sustainable, lucrative, and sustainable option.  

The Network Foundation

As the number of connected devices grows, enterprises need to ensure that the network can scale and continue to deliver information securely, reliably, efficiently, and at a price that protects the total cost of ownership (TCO) and meets the requirements of the business application and its end-users.  

When deciding which network technology is best for ensuring scalability in an IoT solution, begin by considering these primary factors:  

  • Power: Consider how to power the IoT network and associated devices. Suppose there is no continuous grid power available. In that case, battery life will be essential, especially in remote/hard-to-reach areas or large-scale deployments with thousands or millions of sensors.  
  • Range: Broadcast range affects how far the signal from a sensor must travel before it reaches a network server and takes into consideration the physical terrain and penetration obstacles. The technology choice impacts how many gateways or access points are required to route the data to its destination; the more hardware needed, the more one-time and recurring costs are incurred. Also, not all radio frequency (RF) penetrates physical structures equally. Therefore, materials such as thick walls, metal, and concrete, become primary considerations.  
  • Bandwidth: If the application requires the transmission of large amounts of data or payloads at a high bit rate, like audio or video, in an intelligent security network, it will need high bandwidth. However, suppose your IoT network comprises sensors that intermittently send small amounts of data throughout the day with scheduled or event-driven data, such as environmental conditions (temperature/humidity values), binary on/off status, location data and counting data (people counting). In these instances, it can operate at significantly lower bandwidth, reducing overall power consumption and the total cost of ownership.  
  • Security: With the proliferation of IoT, protecting devices, networks, and data from cyber threats and unauthorized access is table stakes. Implementing robust security measures, such as encryption, authentication, and access controls, is essential for safeguarding an IoT infrastructure and maintaining stakeholder trust.

In addition to the network infrastructure, businesses should focus on reliability factors such as global redundancy, around-the-clock monitoring, and alerting, typically found in an enterprise-grade platform, for maximum dependability and peace of mind. These attributes are paramount when deciding between point solutions, which require multiple, disjointed networks - leading to data silos, cluttered IT closets, and departmental bottlenecks.  

Therefore, take careful consideration to avoid these pitfalls by selecting an open, standards-based protocol built to scale effortlessly while ensuring optimal, timely project delivery synonymous with your current and future demands. As the business needs evolve, a scalable network connectivity platform should evolve accordingly by design – streamlining the ability to add incremental use cases with speed and simplicity. Further, seeking a collaborative partner who values customer feedback and supports feature requests that drive increased value for their customer base, lays the foundation for a dynamic, long-term partnership that can adapt to meet evolving use cases, needs, and requirements. In another respect, look for a provider capable of dynamically scaling deployments to support increasing payload volumes with efficiency and agility. Equally important, identify a provider that ensures flexible integration with existing systems, data repositories, and business applications via a robust interface and comprehensive suite of APIs for painless interoperability.  

Fast and Efficient Deployments

Speed to market is critical to move swiftly from pilot to production and start realizing ROI. But, according to reports, deployment-related challenges are the number one reason cited for delays in rolling out an IoT solution. Trials, for instance, are usually done in controlled environments, and moving to real-world deployments is tricky. For example, modernizing technology infrastructure and digitizing long-standing analog business processes can overwhelm and overburden internal IT/OT teams, especially when managing the daily operations and complexities of distributed deployments at large enterprises.

Keeping scaled IoT projects on time, under budget, efficient, and delivered in accordance with business requirements is no easy task – often requiring orchestration between multiple partners and teams to thoughtfully plan, execute, delegate, and manage workloads critical to an IoT initiative's success. A meaningful digital transformation typically requires a solution to be delivered across all locations or operations of an enterprise (e.g., thousands of retail locations, multiple warehouses, or a large manufacturing facility) to move out of a pilot phase. Even the largest companies can be intimidated by the sheer magnitude of these projects. 

That said, to achieve true scale, IoT deployments require strategic, comprehensive planning involving the following key components: 

  • Identify today's business needs with an eye towards the future - define your immediate needs, expectations, and desirable outcomes while forecasting the demands of tomorrow.
  • Employ the best possible underlying technologies by working with a provider who offers a consultative approach to determine the most suitable, affordable, and effective solution.
  • Understand the intricacies of each device as they relate to your business case – e.g., device size, resiliency to environmental factors, detection capabilities, mounting options, and battery life.

Even the most minor details are essential to the solution's ability to scale successfully. For example, when rolling out a cold holding temperature monitoring solution in the food services industry, the installation approach involves configuring each device to transmit data at a predetermined frequency and identifying where the sensors should be adhered for compliance to food safety standards. This level of specificity ensures that that foodservice operators have a solution capable of sustaining and accommodating exponential growth without compromising quality, performance, and precision. 

Given the considerations involved with IoT deployments, outsourcing complex, project-based work to an experienced, reputable IoT deployment services partner positions an enterprise for success. Where point solutions fall short, scalable solutions deliver maximum results regardless of project size, scope, and physical location(s) while delivering substantial savings in cost, time, and resources needed to sustain an IoT project's lifecycle. For example, a reliable partner who can coordinate the installation, assessment, troubleshooting, and repair of IT assets on both a scheduled (planned deployment) and unscheduled (responsive) basis is a key differentiator that lends itself to scale, With the right provider, the burden on internal IT/OT staff is relieved because externally managed projects free up their time to focus on core business priorities.

Unlocking Scale

When it comes to IoT, selecting a scalable, secure, and interoperable IoT infrastructure will ensure your business needs are addressed continuously, reliably, and affordably – along with unified data transparency vital for informed decision-making and strategic, forward planning. Ultimately, unlocking true scale means realizing the full potential of IoT technology and its benefits – poising you to drive innovation.

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