IoT Blog

IoT Blog

IoT Platforms: Key Features to Look For

Most businesses use established IoT platforms to ensure the success of their IoT deployments instead of trying to “reinvent the wheel” themselves. However, with hundreds of IoT platforms on the market, many catering to specific industries, it can be a challenge to evaluate the options and find the right solution.

Analyst reports can provide helpful insights. For example, MachNation compares solutions in their hands-on IoT platform test lab and publishes the findings in their MachNation IoT Test Environment (MIT-E) reports. In recent testing, they evaluated Sierra Wireless’ AirVantage® IoT Platform head-to-head with offerings from Microsoft, AWS, Bosch, General Electric, Google and IBM Watson. IDC also researches IoT platforms, and has just released a new IDC MarketScape on IoT platforms from connectivity and device vendors, in which Sierra Wireless has been named a Major Player.*  Sierra Wireless was also recently recognized in the October 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services Worldwide, another good resource that also covers connectivity services offerings.

But which IoT platform features will truly make your deployment successful?

Here’s your guide to the key IoT device and connectivity management features that you should look for in an IoT platform to operate your fleet of connected assets with full control over your costs and suppliers.

Device management

Odds are, your connected devices will number in the hundreds or even hundreds of thousands. Some industries, such as waste management, will have connected devices like garbage bins and sensors scattered across a city. Once these products are deployed in the field, it’s very costly--sometimes impossible--to update and maintain them manually. An IoT platform with full device management capabilities will enable your enterprise to centrally manage the entire fleet of IoT devices through a single pane of glass and greatly reduce operating costs.

Device and application lifecycle management

An IoT platform should allow you to remotely provision, configure, monitor, diagnose and send commands to your IoT devices. It should also release software and firmware updates for your devices in batches over-the-air, so you can keep your connected service competitive and secure over time, without the high cost of servicing with truck rolls.

Device monitoring
Your IoT platform should provide information on the operating status of any individual or groups of IoT devices. Select a platform with customizable dashboards for visualizing the historical and real-time data from your deployment. Your platform should provide insight into not only the sensor or application data, but also the communication parameters and data usage patterns. With this information, your operations and support teams will have a clear understanding of the past operations related to the remote assets, which is critical for diagnosing and drawing actionable insights on end users’ behavior.

Alert rules and automated action
You should use your IoT platform to inform you of any abnormal or critical situations in real time, but simply knowing what is going wrong is not enough; your IoT platform should work to correct any errors. Select a platform that offers notifications and easy-to-configure alert rules for automated follow-up action. For example, you might want to set rules so that when a device disconnects from the network, your IoT platform automatically resets the connection. This will limit service downtime and any potential associated loss. 

Connectivity management
As cellular technology provides global coverage and long-term sustainability, a growing number of commercial IoT devices include a wireless module or gateway and a SIM to enable bi-directional communications through mobile networks. Connectivity management is another key capability that you will need from your IoT platform.

Multi-operator SIM lifecycle management

If you use connectivity services from several network operators, you will need an IoT platform like Sierra Wireless’s AirVantage that can manage subscriptions from multiple operators, so you can simplify your supplier management and centralize the SIM fleet management. 

You may also want to select subscription options through the platform, so you can optimize the communication cost for your IoT devices before shipping them to different markets.

Data consumption monitoring
Connected devices can sometimes “speak too much” and consume more data than expected due to programming or network issues. To prevent unexpected losses caused by excess data usage, use your IoT platform to monitor the data consumption of each of your devices. Select a platform that will notify you and automate follow-up action such as suspending the defective device or upgrading the data plan to avoid overage penalty, so you can keep your operating cost in control.

Network diagnosis and reset

Most of us have experienced network interruptions on our cellphones when we’re in a rural area. Disconnecting from the network can interrupt your service and impact user experience. Choose an IoT platform that allows your support team to conduct real-time network diagnostics and reset connections over-the-air. This will save you hundreds of dollars per truck roll and reduce downtime. 

A word about interoperability
When you start a new IoT project, you will likely use devices from a single vendor. But as your business grows, you may decide to add new devices and web services. Make sure you select an IoT platform with high “interoperability” – the ability to manage IoT devices from different vendors and communicate with standard IT systems. Choose an IoT platform that is compliant with standard IoT communication protocols such as MQTT and Open Media Alliance’s Lightweight M2M. This will give you the freedom to scale your business over time and choose from the best solutions on the market. 

Sierra Wireless AirVantage IoT Platform

Sierra’s AirVantage IoT Platform is an out-of-the-box IoT platform designed for operating industrial IoT deployments with its unique unified device and connectivity management service. In addition, AirVantage provides a full suite of IoT services, including operations analytics, data storage and management, web service integration, access control and device-to-cloud security. These services can be easily accessed through a self-service portal or integrated into your existing workflow using the platform’s APIs. AirVantage has helped companies in many different industries find success with improved operations efficiency, better control over total cost of ownership and flexibility to scale their IoT business.

Start with Sierra to find out how to make your IoT deployment successful with AirVantage. 

Gartner Disclaimer
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

*Source: IDC MarketScape: IoT Platforms (Device and Network Connectivity Vendors) 2018 Assessment, doc #US43434417, January 2018.