It is very clear that there is tremendous faith and interest in IoT. Considering the applications it can help enterprises realize, that is totally understandable. However, most enterprises underestimate the complexities that IoT integration can bring to traditional IT infrastructures.
For starters, the kinds and volume of data generated by IoT devices are unlikely anything enterprises have had to deal with in the past kind of like watching The Force Awakens – all that hype to see the worst dialogue in years but this is another topic. Then, the costs of meeting known integration risks inflate IoT project budgets. The biggest problem, however, is that too many enterprises start their IoT journeys without appreciating the integration challenges it brings.
As an example, long-range wireless is a vital component of IoT, particularly in settings where implementation of traditional network infrastructure becomes challenging. However, the communication protocol is obscure, and hence difficult to work with. IoT integration challenges — that’s where we are going to lay our focus on today.
What makes IoT integration so challenging
New technologies always bring unique integration challenges with them. However, with IoT, the complexity and scale of integration is nothing quite like what enterprises generally address. Here are some factors that make IoT different.
- Colossal number of connected devices: With hundreds or even thousands of connected devices indulging in concurrent data exchange the sheer number of endpoints makes integration challenging.
- Stream messaging: Collecting and processing a stream of data from hundreds of smart sensors is critical to IoT. Traditional integrations are built around batched data, which causes enterprises to rethink their integration approaches
- Dynamic endpoint counts: It’s pretty normal for the number of endpoints in an IoT setup to rapidly expand. Conventional integration platforms are, however, designed to support a fixed number of endpoints.
- New communication protocols: Several IoT smart sensors use completely new and novel communication protocols, which means enterprises need integration platforms that can adjust seamlessly with new IoT protocols.
- Low latency tolerance: Because of the nature of IoT implementations, it’s necessary that your integration platforms enable super-fast data processing and relay (fraction of a second).
Cloud-based solutions for data and process integration
To achieve scalable success with your IoT projects, you need to think about process and data integration from Day 1. IoT platforms need to be married to your enterprise’s data practices and business processes. Most enterprises believe that the built-in capability of their basic IoT platforms can cover them for initial deployments.
However, IoT integration requirements are going to get increasingly complex as you look to scale up your enterprise IoT capabilities. To meet these challenges, a cloud-based platform as a service solution can help immensely. Key IoT project aspects you can manage via Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions include:
- Implementation of multilevel workflows.
- Managing multiple IoT projects with shared components.
- Implementing advanced integration features such as general purpose translation.
- Leverage on-premises software applications wherever necessary.
Common wisdom suggests that on-premises software is not inherently capable of supporting IoT projects. However, if your enterprise has most of its IT component hosted on-premises, you should and you must leverage some components.
For instance, if the middleware technology is also hosted in-house, you can use it to achieve integration of two or more data sources that are themselves hosted on-premises. For small and midsized firms with significant investments in on-premises applications, this approach makes the costs of embarking on IoT projects manageable.
Communication needs of your IoT projects
To make a large number of “things” communicate with each other in a way such that your organization’s core processes are improved, you need to carefully plan. Things to consider while deciding a communication approach for connected devices are:
- The number of connected devices.
- Types of connected devices.
- Range of communication technologies available.
- Tolerance in terms of latency.
- Considerations around device autonomy, device aggregation, and localized computing.
Integrating IoT with enterprise security solutions
IoT integration brings massive security challenges that can give a headache to even the most seasoned CSO. The sheer number of endpoints, the massive volume of data flowing in the ecosystem, and the critical nature of each device in the larger process that it’s a part of — all these fundamental realities make IoT very challenging for enterprises.
But any organization that needs to complete to survive is going to have to take these types of risks and cope with being in this type of environment.
Integrating all the new data flow nodes with the existing security infrastructure could easily require enterprises to significantly scale up their security resources. Encryption of information in different formats will also require the CSO to plan on newer security protocols. Lastly, because wearable devices are also a vital component of enterprise IoT, organizations will also need to invest in employee training to help them keep their devices secure.
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Taking care of analytics in an IoT-powered IT ecosystem
If your enterprise’s analytics engine has been operating at full capacity even before you commissioned your first IoT project, you will quickly need to ramp up your resources to accommodate the colossal amount of data that IoT devices will generate.
When datastreams from your IoT devices have to be fed to an existing analytics system, you will need to address challenges such as data format, mapping, etc. It makes a lot of sense to have your IoT project teams and vendors take a good look at the core components of your IT so that the IoT implementation can be driven with the integration challenges in mind.
There you have it: IoT integration is a tough nut to crack, purely because of the multidimensional challenges it throws at enterprises. However, this is one nut worth cracking for every enterprise.
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