Companies that dare to build an in-house IoT network for the first time often make a grave mistake in underestimating how complex it will be, not only in terms of design, but also operation and management. On top of that, legacy network technologies and engagement models are still not able to support the requirements of large-scale IoT systems either, making things even harder.
Therefore, building an IoT network is not as easy especially when on a massive scale. What may seem to be an easy task of deploying gateways and managing device provisioning and connectivity quickly becomes challenging with respect to the scaled site and network operations. Some may also find challenges with sourcing and qualifying end devices for their applications, device configuration and management, implementing encryption and security services and ultimately generating contextualized data for their use cases. Here are the essential steps to successfully building an IoT network.
1) Know what inventory you need
Before starting to build an in-house IoT network, you need to know exactly what you need and how you are going to utilize the assets best. Every application, process and the supporting network needs to be planned down to the last inch and use. To avoid making elemental mistakes, ask yourself these questions before building an IoT network:
- Will my devices be battery powered?
- What will be the location of the devices?
- Will the devices need to communicate while in motion?
- How much data and how often will my devices need to communicate?
- Will the firmware on the devices need to be updated in time?
- What end-to-end security measures are required?
- Will be it be possible to connect to an existing wired network for backhaul or via wireless or hybrid?
By answering these questions, you will make a guide of sorts to help you with the selection of the appropriate technology, devices and deployment models to meet every one of your application needs.
2) Know what knowledge and skills you need
Designing, developing, launching and operating a secure and scalable IoT network requires significant knowledge and skill in numerous disciplines. In addition to skilled software engineers, application developers and programmers to develop a functional IoT network, you also need network engineers to connect everything together and make sure it keeps working. Key site operation skills include network design and RF planning (gateway placement and performance planning), deployment (Radio Access Network site acquisition) and maintenance (escalations and managing service inventory) while Network operation requires skill sets for monitoring and alerting, application performance monitoring, troubleshooting and customer support.
3) Work with a System Integrator or Vendor
Working with a system integrator or network vendor depends on the complexity of the IoT network and applications being served. Large scale production IoT networks require a highly sophisticated management stack and building operational and business systems from the ground up is highly complex and costly. Many service providers have struggled to handle the complexities of building and managing an IoT network and have gained a significant competitive advantage by aligning with IoT ecosystem partners, including those offering proven connectivity platforms, existing networks and targeted business solutions.
Similarly, many forward-thinking system integrators have partnered with IoT network providers and leverage their expertise for end device qualification, connectivity services, device management and even contextualized data delivery. This allows System Integrators to focus on what they do best – application development and integration, field deployment and ongoing project management. Working with a trusted set of ecosystem partners with expertise in these areas can significantly reduce risks.
4) Work with a trusted IoT partner
The IoT requires new models for network connectivity and business engagement across an entire ecosystem of participants, including Communication Service Providers, enterprise organizations and solution providers. Regardless of your position in the ecosystem, to confidently address the critical elements of network security, scalability and flexibility, the best approach to creating an IoT network is to align with a proven IoT connectivity partner capable of offering managed network connectivity, connectivity enabling technology, application enablement and flexible business models that support scaled growth.
Partnering with an IoT connectivity provider to deploy and operate a network reduces risks, markets faster and directly links to driving IoT connectivity revenues with value-add applications.
Furthermore, as networks connect over a wide variety of communication protocols, standardization is going to be crucial if IoT is to survive and thrive. Be sure to select an open standards-based protocol for your IoT network. To find out how to secure your IoT network, take a look at our infographic.