Future proofing your IoT deployment

11th April 2018
Anna Flockett

If you were not aware, a few days ago 9th April was Global IoT Day, and it was actually the seventh year of this ‘holiday’ which saw plenty to celebrate.

Guest blog written by Tom Gibbings.

The day originated as an opportunity for IoT-minded people around the world to meet up, discuss the implications of IoT and evolve their visions for how an IoT-enabled planet should emerge. We’ve come a long way in seven years, and it’s only the beginning! The discussions are more tangible now, and the community has made enough progress to learn from the past and devise best practices moving forward.

Luckily for many of us in the IoT space, we get plenty of opportunities to discuss IoT more frequently than once a year. In Q1 2018, Wind River spent more weeks at IoT-themed events than not.

One event that stands out in particular as a great learning experience is the Industry of Things San Diego. Wind River hosted a series of World Café roundtable sessions with leaders in IoT, many from companies with deployed IoT solutions, acutely aware of the IoT challenges they face and committed to solving those challenges quickly.

Its roundtable topic was ‘Future Proofing your IoT Deployment.’ Gibbings had preconceived notions about what would be spoke about, but he was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of topics that were presented by the audience.

In honour of IoT Day, here we will share the top three takeaways from the session, as they demonstrate the challenges and concerns that real IoT doers are encountering as they look at how to future proof their IoT designs.

  1. No big surprise here, security was at the top of the list. There were various takes on it from network security to threat detection for local devices to role-based access. Security has been and will continue to be a topic of great interest and anxiety until the pace of security breaches dissipates.
  2. Next up, standards and protocols. Even with the latest progress in IoT protocols, industry participants continue to be concerned about making the right decision on which standards to adopt. It’s funny how the comparison to VHS versus Betamax still thrives more than 40 years later. Everyone is acutely aware that betting on the wrong standard can cause a serious disaster with product adoption. This healthy scepticism will mitigate the chances of that happening.
  3. Now this one was a surprise, coming in third was ‘preventing vendor lock-in.’ Gibbings anticipated security and protocols coming up, but didn’t expect vendor lock-in to be a top-of-mind concern. It starts to make more sense once you dig in a bit more. There are various concerns related to vendor lock-in. What if you rely on a vendor for a piece of technology and that vendor gets acquired or goes out of business? What if that vendor makes a critical promise and fails to follow through? The concern is definitely valid, but the problem is that none of the discussions provided a good solution to the problem. The IoT ecosystem is so diverse, and the technology stacks necessary to deploy a solution are so large that the only way to reasonably mitigate risk on this topic is to choose vendors that you know will be around for the long haul or your engineering team is able to make decisions that reduce your cost of switching to a different vendor.

All of these various viewpoints brought a lot of valuable discussion around topics that need to be discussed. Wind River will continue to maintain its position that the best way to future proof your IoT deployment is by implementing a device management solution that contains a robust capability for remotely updating devices.

With the rapid pace of technology innovation and rising security incidents, in order to avoid potentially hazardous situations that include humans physically interacting with a deployed device, robust remote updates must be part of your solution. This will enable IoT operators to deploy their latest software innovation, address the next security concern, and keep the underlying operating system up to date.

The Industry of Things World conference series has been a fantastic venue to explore these types of topics, and Wind River will look forward to attending again next year.

What are your biggest concerns around future proofing?  Do you agree with the takeaways that have been discussed? If you are at an IoT event today (or any day), we urge you to discuss this topic with others; it’s sure to be an enlightening discussion.

Courtesy of Wind River.

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