“We need to have analytics and machine learning in our applications.” This is a statement we hear often regarding the development of IoT solutions. These are essential ingredients in generating value based on data, to be sure.
But there is another critical, yet often overlooked core feature, that merits consideration: device management. In fact, I think it is an essential foundation of every IoT deployment. Just ask yourself: how can all the cool analytics happen if there is no data due to malfunctioning devices?
Beyond the installation of IoT infrastructure, robust solutions for device management are key to the success of any overall solution. Among other points, I paint some hypothetical yet likely scenarios that illustrate the value of good device management solutions.
Firmware-over-the-air updates allow you to celebrate your go-live with no worries
Just imagine: you successfully roll out 20,000+ sensor nodes and gateways across four regions worldwide. You then take a well-earned night off to have celebratory drinks with the team and management. Just as someone is about to propose a toast to the rollout, you receive a notification that there is a bug in the gateway firmware.
Future-proof your IoT solution with a remote tool for device management that boasts firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) updating capabilities. Paired with campaign management capabilities, this allows you to efficiently ensure the security and integrity of patches via automated mass management. Please note that device management solutions must perform such software updates remotely and reliably – even if connectivity is intermittent.
Device management for accurate reporting and early diagnosis of security issues
After launching your IoT solution, you gather data for a status report and discover a discrepancy in the number of devices. After several rounds of checks. Upon closer inspection, you identify a security lapse and some unknown devices that are connected. Does this mean your network is vulnerable to rogue devices? Or, even worse, hackers?
A robust turnkey solution for device management that has strong authentication methods and security provisions will significantly lower risk. Such solutions also ensure the accuracy of reporting for diagnostics. By always remotely monitoring network statistics, breaches will be flagged immediately and you can take swift action.
If your company is unfamiliar with device management and corresponding security issues, an experienced partner for device management is invaluable. Such partners thoroughly assess your IoT projects before recommending the best methods for provisioning and authentication. Their expertise will include consulting on the lifecycle management of IoT devices.
Device management solutions for multiple configuration settings with no need for manual intervention
“I want to change the data frequency concerning this group of devices with model XYZ module. And could you include a metadata tag for people in Asia?” How often have you exchanged such requests with your end users?
While changes and updates are normal, it can be very time-consuming to select individual line items to perform changes. Just imagine having to select hundreds of devices – and then the system accidentally resets to zero. Because possible configurations are innumerable, there is an urgent need to establish efficient ways of addressing this.
Device management should have flexible and dynamic logical groupings of devices for business groupings. In addition, it should be able to trigger mass actions based on rules, and run saved actions at a scheduled time or event. A complete device management solution can boost the efficiency of development and maintenance, with scripting for runtime process management tools. Your operations team will definitely thank you for implementing a device management solution with the aforementioned sophisticated features.
Device management ensures in-depth visibility of device status and identification of issues
Let’s say you receive multiple issue tickets from the application team. They claim that the data is no longer being sent to the database. Unfortunately, you do not have deep visibility of the device status and conditions. In turn, you cannot troubleshoot effectively. Granted, you could manually check the logs on the gateways.
But that would require a serial cable and much more time. What’s more, your devices are all over the world. So you would need someone on the ground to help you with troubleshooting.
Regarding IoT solutions, deployment is only the first step in an ongoing process. Other considerations include uninterrupted monitoring and diagnostics to minimize downtime and streamline operations. An excellent IoT device management solution will perform remote monitoring from a central system. If additional analysis is required, the solution can also remotely trigger verbose logging and downloading of the log files for analysis. This saves valuable time and improves the efficiency of operations.
There are actually many additional device management functions. All of them are critical to the successful deployment of IoT devices. Yes, it is technically possible to build a device management solution from scratch.
But that would require extensive knowledge of embedded engineering, software engineering, security, infrastructure operations – and a great amount of time. You must also be certain that your customized solution has been proven to scale to millions of devices – as in an IoT scenario.
Device management systems are pivotal to deploying and operating IoT sensors and field devices. They namely enable valuable data to be sent back for execution of analytics. If you want to see how it works in real life with the Bosch IoT Remote Manager, please check out what we accomplished with the Mann+Hummel Group.