News posted on: 2022/4/13 9:35:42 - by John Lee - RFIDtagworld XMINNOV RFID Tag Manufacturer
The number of companies offering IoT platforms has grown significantly over the past few years. Market research firm IoT Analytics reports that in 2021 there will be 613 companies offering IoT platforms, an astounding number.
IoT platforms vary in functionality, but typically focus on one or more of the building blocks of an IoT system—physical devices, internet connections, and digital services. They provide software (and in some cases hardware) in a way that gives businesses a head start when building IoT systems. There are so many companies offering platforms that it is nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. If you are exposed to IoT but are new to IoT platforms, you may be asking yourself questions like: What is an IoT platform made of? What is the difference between PaaS and SaaS? How are they good for my company? How to choose an IoT platform?
What does an IoT platform consist of?
A true IoT platform usually includes the following features:
Digital services running in the cloud connected by physical devices
software running on devices that communicate with digital services
A framework or pattern for data messaging and remote command and control of devices
Security infrastructure handles device registration, authentication, security credential management
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Web dashboard for viewing device status and interacting with the system
Other Functions that an IoT platform may provide include:
Analytics Tools and Dashboards
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Application Deployment Business Process
Machine Learning Orchestration
Fleet Management Tools
Integration with other services
Gateway or hub support to bridge devices to the cloud
Device's cellular plan
Web or mobile application interface and templates
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
A PaaS platform provides the building blocks to do most of what an IoT system needs, but it's up to you to write the custom code to connect it together. With a PaaS provider, businesses don't have to worry about the underlying server hardware, but must combine their services into a working architecture and manage the deployment of applications that use their services. This is more work, but allows for more flexibility and opportunity to customize the system to suit needs.
The ongoing cost of a PaaS IoT platform is generally lower than that of SaaS, but requires expertise to ensure the right usage model to avoid larger costs. Large cloud providers all offer PaaS IoT platforms, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Software as a Service (SaaS)
With SaaS providers, businesses can use a software application that they deploy and manage for you, or they can license and deploy it themselves. SaaS platforms usually offer some configurability and integration with other systems. There is far less work in cloud computing, as this is mostly handled by enterprises. But it will be limited by the capabilities provided by the IoT platform provider, requiring more investment in connecting the platform to other systems.
Depending on the enterprise use case, SaaS may offer more advanced out-of-the-box features than PaaS, and the ongoing cost of a SaaS IoT platform may be higher.
How to consider IoT Platform
This often means taking a phased approach and focusing on different priorities in each phase. IoT is a journey, not a destination. We see that when companies tackle each challenge in stages, they are most successful by not trying to do too much too quickly or locking themselves into long-term decisions too early. The choice to use PaaS or Saas depends on where you are in your IoT journey.
If you are developing your first IoT product
During the connection phase, you should have some confidence in the fit of your problem and the market, and you should have a better idea of what benefits IoT can bring to your business. Now you need to build a system to handle a rigorous production environment. You also need to adapt your organization to support your new product or service.
We recommend that you shift your focus to creating powerful experiences for customers that span physical devices and the digital interfaces they interact with. You need to consider other parts of the system such as mobile applications, web applications, database storage, operational dashboards, etc. that your customers and internal teams need to interact with the system.
PaaS IoT platforms start out with strong advantages at this stage. We often see that companies need more than what SaaS offers. Therefore, there is a need to enhance the functionality of the SaaS platform, or connect it to other systems. For example, if a SaaS IoT platform does not provide long-term data storage, you need to create a bridge to pull the data out of the platform's services and put it into a database you control in the cloud. Maintaining and monitoring this bridge is not easy, which may lead you to want to incorporate everything into your existing cloud. For this reason, we generally recommend a PaaS platform at this stage.
If you already have an IoT product in the market
The connection or acceleration phase is all about maximizing the benefits of IoT, leveraging the valuable data you may gain, and aligning your costs with revenue. While improving customer relationships and building new processes and skills, you should focus on expanding your system. These are not trivial tasks. This requires in-house expertise. Your team needs to understand your system to be able to improve efficiency and optimize costs. You have to get data to the right place when you need it, and it has to drive reliable operations across all of your infrastructure.
PaaS IoT platforms offer the greatest advantage at this stage. You have more control over the system rather than being locked into a specific software platform. You can customize and integrate more closely with existing systems. This allows you to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of your customers.
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