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Cellular connectivity: the final piece of the IoT puzzle

IoT
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/everything possible)

Cloud is helping almost every business rewrite its story. From smarter collaboration and faster innovation, to lowered operating costs and optimized business processes, cloud is knocking down the siloes. Digital transformation delivers the tools that assist with quicker, more accurate decision-making. Yet the path to business value isn’t the same for everyone.

Some are focusing on Infrastructure-as-a-Service, others Platform- or Software-as-a-Service. There are varying degrees of familiarity. Whether it’s a crucial foundation upon which entire organizations are built, or a newly integrated stepping stone to streamlining, safeguarding and boosting business plans, cloud has arrived.

Migrate, optimize and innovate is the mantra, with the Internet of Things adding another layer of digital communication to endpoints that would otherwise be redundant. With cloud and IoT solutions, the fabric of commerce becomes smarter, more responsive, and ready for a hybrid future.

Yet cloud and IoT are only part of the picture. There’s a weak link. The individual endpoints - often sensors - collect the data and push it to the cloud, where data processing, insight mining and smart decision making takes place. Then commands are issued back to the endpoints, key actions are performed and analyzed based on inputs.

With all this already happening in the cloud, it makes sense to bridge the gap with cellular connectivity. And this was the idea that established EMnify in 2014, marking the birth of one of the first connectivity providers with a cellular platform in the public cloud. Seven years on, and cloud-native cellular IoT connectivity has matured, it’s fast and efficient, and it is accelerating the impact of the IoT.

Beyond traditional cellular contracts

Despite careful planning and release, many IoT deployments have failed to achieve desired outcomes. Businesses have been unable to harness the full potential of cloud, with bottlenecks and latency issues stifling the flow of information and reducing the quality of decision making.

That’s because connectivity was still being provided through traditional operator cellular contracts and connections. Even though applications, software and systems were hosted in the cloud, cellular connectivity was the bridge. And it was creaking.

Today, the vast majority of IoT platforms are hosted in the cloud, with most data transfers and storage also undertaken there. Technology has evolved to offer an end-to-end cloud-native network architecture, allowing enterprises to fully utilize the agility, scalability, resilience, elasticity and economies of cloud.

The benefits of cloud-native cellular connectivity

When businesses move beyond traditional cellular contracts, they can overcome the limitations of outmoded connectivity models. Gone is the inflexibility. Gone are the bottlenecks. There’s no more needless expense and the obstacles fall away, accelerating IoT time-to-market and time-to-revenue. With a cloud-native ecosystem, workflows are transformed into plug-and-play environments, with no requirement for restrictive contracts or troublesome hardware-based APIs.

Of the many immediate benefits that a business can enjoy when they choose cloud-native connectivity, the key advantages are self-service, better integration, low latency connectivity, a cellular network without borders, and substantial cost savings.

With cloud-native cellular connectivity, everything’s self-service. You can start right away, and there are no administrative burdens to slow down progress. There are no contracts to sign, no tickets to open and no contractual commitments. Instead, it’s all taken care of with automated workflows.

In terms of integration, things couldn’t be simpler. Cloud-native connectivity makes it easy to establish connections between devices, applications and systems. This results in improved operational efficiencies and heightened security. Plus, the connectivity solution can easily be integrated into your own and any third-party applications and cloud services in your stack.

Latency isn’t an issue, either. You’ll enjoy reliable, low-latency connectivity to a cloud-native, highly reliable core network that reaches around the globe. Instead of routing data to the cellular operator’s home country, the best option is selected, based upon each individual situation. Data is routed directly to the closest cloud region, which not only reduces latency, but also reduces device energy consumption, extending battery life and improving service availability.

With a global cellular network, it’s easy to scale up across national and network borders without the need to source from different vendors. That’s the beauty of cloud-native cellular IoT connectivity. Even on a per-country basis, multiple networks can be accessed through one global IoT operator, allowing management of all connectivity aspects in just one single platform.

Cost savings as well as efficiencies

If the improvements in performance are not enough, it’s cost-effective too. Efficiencies of cloud translate into potential cost savings, with microservices, network function virtualization and software-defined networking features all playing a part in managing costs. With access to these tools, networks become more responsive and cost-effective to manage, provision, deprovision and troubleshoot through software solutions. Not only is responsiveness increased, but processing power is only when required, which reduces demands on hardware, and saves disk space, energy and cost.

Traditional operator contracts and connections just don’t work well within IoT operations. Where they create bottlenecks, end-to-end cloud-native connectivity overcomes barriers and creates opportunities. With cloud-native connectivity, there’s no more intensive IT administration, or maintenance of on-premise servers, networks and virtualization platforms, which requires specific training and technical skills.

A time to focus on core competencies

Operational inefficiencies can also be reduced significantly when transitioning from a private, physical server hosted within an organization or data center, towards a comprehensive cloud platform. Connectivity choice is one of the most far-reaching decisions in the IoT journey of any business. It’s vital that you have the right underpinnings in place, alleviating overheads, expenses and administration pressure, allowing the business to focus on its core competencies, creating outstanding IoT solutions, while a cloud provider takes care of cellular connectivity. 

Frank Stoecker, CEO & co-founder, EMnify

Frank Stoecker

Frank Stoecker, CEO & co-founder at EMnify.