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3 keys to ensuring scalability in the IoT

The Internet of Things continues to be a hot-button topic both inside and outside the IT world — and for good reason. As it gets easier and cheaper to connect physical objects to the Internet, we have a whole new world of opportunities at our fingertips.

It’s expected that the total number of machine-to-machine connections will grow from 5 billion in 2014 to 27 billion by 2024.With that exponential growth, the ability to efficiently manage those devices becomes paramount. Your business needs to be able to monitor the operation of its devices and add to its system as device functionality matures and networks evolve.

The power of a scalable system

The first step is to get your device-scaling plan in order. When deploying an IoT system, you have to keep in mind both current and future needs. If your system is not scalable, then it will not be able to accommodate future expansion when shifts in technology occur. This leaves businesses with unusable systems and devices that must either be replaced or augmented, and both are expensive prospects.

In addition, a scalable network does not require complete deployment in order to function, which allows for a gradual rollout and tweaks along the way. The network can adapt when failures occur and remain mostly operational until the issue is repaired.

How to go from zero to scalable

It’s imperative to have a scalable system in place while your business grows, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are three keys to get you on the right track:

1. Align network and device longevity.

2G technology is still being used in more than half of the world’s mobile connections, and unless the companies still utilising this technology are prepared for the network’s impending sunset, they will likely find themselves with millions of useless devices on their hands in the not-so-distant future.

When deploying an IoT system, consider the potential longevity of the network technology and compare it to the devices’ expected life spans. Make sure your plans incorporate long-term support for devices based on technology projections.

2. Create a system for easy expansion.

Your system should be able to easily expand as more devices are added. Nearly 75 per cent of businesses have upgraded their networks over the past three years, but 41 per cent say it takes a month or longer to make these changes.

Ingenu recently deployed a robust IoT network for a utility company’s smart metering application, and a short time later, the company told us it wanted to offer additional services on its network. We gradually added faulted-circuit monitoring devices, pressure-sensing devices, and smart street lighting without requiring additional infrastructure or downtime.

Because of the utility’s ability to leverage its initial investment in the network to provide its customers with enhanced functionality, its system has enjoyed an extremely beneficial total cost of ownership.

3. Demand device durability.

Make sure the devices on the network can operate for many years without needing service. With maintenance making up about 15 to 25 per cent of annual enterprise IT costs, investing in quality upfront will result in the lowest operational cost for the device as well as the network in the long term.

The buzzword status of IoT continues to increase, and so does its role in your business. All companies need to ensure their IoT systems are poised to keep up with this fast-paced evolution.

John Horn, CEO at Ingenu