Internet of Things (IoT) Challenges

Internet of Things (IoT) Challenges
November 12, 2016/0 Comments/in Large Scale IoT /by Sinan Ozmen
Although, many research and advisory firms provide very positive insight for future IoT business, actual deployment is not achieving the forecasted numbers. A large-scale adoption is necessary to achieve the impact projected by these forecasts. However, many barriers exist for the large-scale adoption of IoT services. Scarcity of skilled developers, lack of interoperability and standardization among systems, vendor dependency and associated high costs are a few of these barriers. Several aspects of IoT, including ubiquitous communication, scalability, interoperability, security, maintenance and support require the need for highly specialized and highly customized solutions and make IoT difficult for widespread deployment.

All phases of IoT services, from idea to commercial rollout, are still full of challenges and involve a large group of stakeholders including; service developers, service providers, infrastructure providers, operators, equipment manufacturers, integrators and most importantly end-users. The interactions between the stakeholders during the process of building a commercial IoT solution are currently very complex and overwhelming. In addition, there is too much emphasis on technology, while commercialization aspects, such as business planning, revenue models, market entry strategy, and time-to-market are overlooked to a great extent. As a result, market-uptake of IoT and revenue opportunities are still progressing slowly.

While, the root cause of these challenges are economic, industrial, social, and also technical, the most important issue that prevents large scale deployment of IoT services is financial. The economic benefits of IoT investments are not clear to the stakeholders of the IoT value chain. It is not easy for investors to formulate viable return of investment (RoI) and revenue models for potential IoT investment opportunities. Current available solutions are not helping either. This financially unattractive environment is caused by several factors:

The time from Idea to Commercial Rollout (Time to Value – TtV) is too long for IoT services.

The interactions between IoT ecosystem stakeholders are very complex and comes with serious limitations.

The process flow of IoT Services and activities for all phases, including development, deployment, monitoring, reporting, maintenance and support is not streamlined and simplified with an end-to-end perspective
Many of the solution and platform providers focus on one aspect of the overall equation, whether it be connectivity, device management, application management, data storage, security or data analytics. A central platform that unites and integrates these dispersed solutions is missing.

The other important issues for large scale deployment of IoT services are related to technical and social aspects:

Most of the components at the edge of the network are connected or modelled to be connected directly to the cloud. In this architecture model, the processing, including data collection, data storage, data analytics and decision making are done by the cloud. This model creates very heavy message traffic and requires big bandwidth and processing power. It is not a feasible and sustainable architecture for available network bandwidth and processing power.

Direct connectivity of the nodes to the cloud produces weaknesses on the ways the system handles both consumer-driven personal data and enterprise-driven big data. Centralized data collection and data storage exposes critical, private and protected user data and creates vulnerabilities and jeopardizes data security. IoT service providers will have to transform how to store and protect data and at the same time make the data accessible, especially for key verticals such as healthcare and financial services.

IoT service developers don’t have flexible and easy to use software development and proof of concept (PoC) environments with starter kits, SDKs, documentation and readily available assistance for fast service development.

The availability of vast number of component suppliers and the lack of standards create complex integration and interoperability within hardware and software components of the IoT ecosystem
IoT Challenges (Published on LinkedIn – November 12, 2016)

IoT Large Scale Adoption – Solution Characteristics

IoT Large Scale Adoption – Solution Characteristics
November 29, 2016/0 Comments/in Large Scale IoT /by Sinan Ozmen
We anticipate IoT (Internet of Things) to transform how we interact, how we do business, how we live, work, travel, entertain, communicate and much more. Large-scale adoption of IoT services can fulfill these expectations. I tried to address the challenges of large-scale adoption in a previous article. Now, I suggest focusing on the potential solution options and the required characteristics of the IoT eco-system for large-scale deployment. I hope this article will initiate a dialogue to capture diverse opinions and provide a reference to support IoT to achieve its promises and realize its full potential. All comments are welcome.

Please note that, throughout the article, many important topics are listed as “simple” bullet items; however, most of them could easily be the focus of a separate article by themselves.

In addition to compliance with standards and regulations, four major characteristics define the level of an IoT eco-system. These four pillars outline the requirements of an IoT solution for large-scale deployment: Practices and Processes, Architecture, Service Platform, and Development Environment

Practices and Processes

Adoption and widespread deployment of IoT services require an eco-system that comes as a unified end-to-end solution that is affordable, flexible, adaptable, innovative, and ready to evolve to address the future needs of the IoT stakeholders. The IoT value chain includes service developers, service providers, infrastructure providers, platform providers, operators, equipment manufacturers, equipment resellers, system integrators, enterprise business and IT organizations, and consumers. All stages and activities of IoT services and processes, including development, deployment, monitoring, reporting, maintenance, and support have to be streamlined and simplified with an end-to-end perspective. The goals of the end-to-end IoT service life cycle management must target:

Short Time to Value (TtV)
Simplified Stakeholder Interactions
Friendly and Easy to Use Interfaces
Streamlined End-to-End Processes
Compliance with Standards and Regulations
All stakeholders should be able to access general information, such as how to use the system, buying and installing equipment, and resolving problems, via the portals provided by the IoT eco-system. A minimal set of portals could be defined as:

Help and Emergency Service Contact(s)
General Contact Center
New Ideas, Suggestions, Services
Installation and Calibration Guides
Information on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
List of Confirmed Component Resellers
List of Certified Components
List of Verified Hardware and Software Component Suppliers
Commercial Agreements and Contracts
Overall End-to-End Process Flow

The number of connected sensors, actuators and other edge devices is projected to reach the level of multiple billions in the near future. Direct connectivity of all edge devices to the cloud is a big challenge and unrealistic for the available network bandwidth, security, and real time processing. A distributed and efficient eco-system supporting real-time data processing and decision-making at the edge would provide very important social, business, and technical benefits. An intermediate access layer at the edge of the network, equipped with smart gateways, would provide a local interaction hub environment. A strong, reliable and manageable Gateway would reduce the huge data traffic that is occurring between the edge and the cloud. Application processing, sensor data fusion, analytics and event processing can be done at the edge. This will reduce the data transferred to the cloud, and in addition to enhanced security, it will radically increase the responsiveness at the local level. Edge processing will play a pivotal role for large-scale IoT solution deployment. The distributed architecture would offer a much-needed platform for edge management, and processing, and enable capabilities, such as:

Support of Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud Structures
Support of Local Hubs and Edge Processing
Increased Security and Privacy via Local Data Storage
Reduced Network Bandwidth Need
Improved Reliability via Distributed Network Processing
Faster and Enhanced Real-Time Decision Making
Superior Node Connectivity and Management
Service Discovery
Protocol Conversion
Service Platform

Service Platform is the central hub of the IoT eco-system. It must be secure, modular, and reliable and it must come with essential capabilities to serve the future expansion scenarios with billions of connected devices and trillions of transactions. It is the backbone of the system. It connects all of the system components, and processes the data collected from them to ensure meaningful actions and responses. Many of the solution and platform providers focus on one aspect of the overall equation, whether it be connectivity, device management, application management, data storage, security, or data analytics. A central platform that offers all aspects of the solution must provide several key functions, including:

Tenant Management
User Management
Device Management
Connectivity Management
Application Management
Data Management
Service Management
API Management
Security Management
Reports Management
Event Processing
Rule Engines
Data Analytics
Content and Context Awareness
Location and Time Awareness
System Dashboard
Development Environment

Development and prototyping environment for IoT services is still complex, as the vast majority of the environments are dependent on non-standardized and inadequately supported hardware and operating systems. The must for a fast service deployment is a solution that comprises an easy to use proof of concept environment (PoC) with well-defined interfaces, starter kits, software development kits (SDKs), documentation and readily available assistance. Cloud, Gateway and Node development tools, such as easy to use SDKs with relevant Libraries, clearly defined interfaces, APIs and User Guides, would shorten the service delivery time. A solution that provides a straightforward, innovative and publicly accessible development environment help minimizing time-to-market of new IoT concepts and facilitates:

Broader Developer Participation
Accelerated Time-to-Market
Materialization of Greater Number of IoT Concepts into Services
Only solutions that adequately comprise these four pillars will open the floodgates of large-scale deployment. IoT will achieve its promises and realize its full potential when those solutions are available.

IoT Large Scale Adoption Solution Characteristics (Published on LinkedIn – November 29, 2016)