With interest in IoT reaching fever pitch, much attention and thought is being focussed on the benefits of having hundreds and thousands, if not millions of connected devices across the world. However, far less attention and thought is being given to how these devices will be managed; an issue that is of paramount importance, particularly to the industrial sector.

Seven things to consider when designing an IoT system

Designing an IoT system presents hidden challenges. Data aggregation is just one piece of the puzzle. Also important to understand is what happens when your devices encounter a problem. It’s essential to have a plan to handle these issues from the very beginning in order to ensure IoT applications and devices will perform as planned over their entire lifespan. Before any company contemplates designing IoT systems in order to better harness their valuable data, optimize their operations, and even transform their businesses, they should consider the following questions carefully.

Are existing development processes adequate for the task?

Developing systems for IoT is very different than developing standalone applications and devices. It is therefore necessary to adopt a completely different mindset which encompasses the entire system lifecycle, from deployment, through ongoing device management to decommissioning.

How can device health be effectively monitored?

The performance of an IoT system as a whole is dependent on the health of every device connected to it. A mechanism for monitoring the health of large numbers of individual devices will therefore be required because physically checking each one on site will be impractical.

If a device reports an error, how will it be fixed?

Not only is it important to monitor device health, but when a device shows signs of failing, a way to fix it easily without dispatching a field engineer is essential.

How will devices be updated in the field?

Device software in an IoT system will require constant updating to take advantage of technology improvements and maintain performance standards. There is therefore the need to design an efficient means of implementing regular updates across the entire device population.

What if software vulnerabilities are discovered?

Even if the devices have built-in security functionality, threats are constantly changing and new vulnerabilities are bound to appear. This means that a way to push out patches quickly and efficiently, with minimal disruption and at scale to hundreds or even thousands of devices at once is vital.

How will change management be implemented?

An IoT system is rarely static. As more is learned about the devices and equipment, new parameters which require monitoring or control will become evident. Consequently, it must be possible to be able to adapt devices to changing business priorities that require new functionality.

How can this be carried out remotely?

It’s neither practical nor cost-effective to dispatch field engineers to inspect, fix, update, and secure every device in the field. Therefore, the system must be designed in such a way that every device can be monitored and managed from a central location.