Is the IoT Ready for a Services Model?

    It seems there is nothing the enterprise needs done any more that cannot be provided as a service, and that includes the most architecturally complex applications ever conceived. Even as organizations across the economic landscape scramble to build the Internet of Things (IoT), key players are already looking ahead to IoT as a Service (IoTaaS).

    But while multiple vendors and service providers are quick to put a label on new classes of services, how will the enterprise know if it is getting a true IoTaaS platform? Indeed, given that the IoT itself is still largely undefined, is it even possible at this point to determine what is and is not IoTaaS?

    We can start with the view of traditional technology vendors. Oracle recently unveiled the Modern Supply Chain Experience that attempts to provide functions like asset and fleet management, production monitoring and a host of other activities as integrated SaaS offerings. At the same time, the company launched the Data Integrator Cloud Service designed to accelerate data migration to and from Oracle cloud-based applications. Together, says Group VP Bhagat Nainani, the two should allow line-of-business managers to implement IoT applications quickly without having to deploy and integrate complicated software stacks in-house.

    Meanwhile, IoTaaS platforms are emerging on the carrier level as providers seek to offer enterprise-class services at lower cost and with greater scalability and functionality than organizations can provide for themselves. Nokia recently added a suite of business management services to its WING IoT grid that can support applications ranging from connected cars to integrated shipping channels. The system incorporates device connectivity via the e-SIM subscription model, plus the company’s Impact IoT platform to maintain connectivity to local provider networks. At the same time, users will have access to global connectivity through Nokia’s M2M Core and CloudPacket Core offerings. In this way, says the company’s Igor Leprince, organizations will be able to maintain IoT infrastructure on a global scale under Nokia’s managed grid service platform.

    Other carriers are looking to leverage their networking capabilities to bring the management of IoT infrastructure under control. Canada’s Rogers Communications recently introduced a suite of services in conjunction with service provider blueRover that aims to simplify the deployment and support of devices, services and connectivity. The companies will target packages to key industry verticals, such as farming, with services like Farm & Food Monitoring and Level Monitoring that oversee sensors and other endpoints in everything from field machinery to refrigerators to waste disposal machinery. In this way, organizations can offload many day-to-day operations to Rogers and blueRover in order to place more focus on strategic business operations.

    Building a platform is one thing, but applying it to real-world business operations is quite another. As The Server Side’s Jason Tee notes, managing sensors and edge devices is only one piece of the overall IoT chain. The real complexity begins when you add the advanced analytics and automation that powers IoT functionality. With the basic underpinnings for these systems still under development, it may be a bit premature to start thinking about them in terms of services, or whether it is better to implement IoTaaS as a standalone service or a value-add to a broader data and analytics ecosystem.

    At this point, it’s reasonable to expect that the IoT will embrace service-level operations in line with other areas of the enterprise data stack: Solutions that work will rise to the top while those that fail will die quietly. Ultimately, the enterprise will achieve some form of equilibrium between traditional IoT models and IoTaaS, which will most likely occur on the cusp of the next major development in business technology.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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