Monetizing your real-world data requires an up-to-date fleet of remote devices. Here’s what it takes to scale and manage everything from sensors to gateways.
Over and over, we see our industrial customers struggling to scale the management of their fleets of remote devices and sensors beyond the first hundred or thousand devices. In our work with clients we hear complaints such as:
- “Despite investing millions of dollars and years of effort on a connected ecosystem we’ve only rolled it out to 10% of our fleet. Our competitors appear to be moving faster and in fact, they now have a solution to connect our equipment too.”
- “Division `X,’ `Y’ and `Z’ each bought the latest and greatest (or cheapest and easiest) gateways to develop some whiz-bang connected solution. Now we’re locked into managing that legacy hardware whether or not it meets our needs or the vendor even still supports it.”
- “Each connected solution across the company requires its own management ecosystem and its own staff. We’re paying over and over for the same capability, and still aren’t sure our systems are properly patched so we’re not liable for downtime or a security breach. We can’t simply rely on each of our many gateway hardware vendors’ device management solutions because none of them suits all of our needs.”
- “We can’t recruit and keep enough skilled staff to install and maintain our connected devices in the field. We need to reduce the time to install for each unit and manage the growth of units without adding headcount.”
Our clients understand the potential of using industrial data to increase service and parts revenue, improve customer service and develop new revenue streams by using sensor data to help customers improve their operations. But many of them lack the time, staff and tools to properly manage, upgrade and secure the disparate data-generating sensors and gateways at their customers sites. What management software they have is often usable only with one vendor’s equipment, meaning ever-rising costs for everything from software licenses to staff training.
What they need is a single, integrated system that can prove a “single pane of glass” to cost-effectively manage very large, heterogeneous fleets of sensors and gateways so they can get on with the business of monetizing their data.
Enabling Device Management at Scale
Such a system must include a software layer to link legacy devices to the cloud, a common management platform, software accelerators and best practices as well as a scalable update and management infrastructure. And by “scale” we mean not only any number of new or existing devices from one vendor, but multiple types of devices from multiple vendors, ranging from sensors to gateways and servers.
One move in this direction came this week as Microsoft unveiled a public preview of its Device Update for Azure IoT Hub. Device Update for IoT Hub is a secure, scalable, high availability platform for onboarding and managing sensors, gateways and other devices. It leverages Microsoft’s decades of experience managing remote updates to its Windows operating system across a wide variety of PCs and servers. Device Update allows customers to operate and manage dynamic “over-the-air” updates to keep devices secure and enable new features remotely throughout their lifecycle. This foundation enables enterprises to further enable productivity and operational efficiency through a single management interface that provides a robust, consistent workflows regardless of the version of a device or its vendor.
Streamlining device management with Device Update is, however, only the beginning. Because many companies lack specialized fleet management skills, they also need:
- Proven solution accelerators (such as Bright Wolf GearBox and GearBox Device Manager) to rapidly integrate devices at the network edge with the cloud and other enterprise systems.
- An experienced partner who can provide consulting, templates and proven best practices for integrating control and embedded systems, protocols and all layers of the IoT device and data management solution on Microsoft Azure.
- Hardware providers who can provide a secure, reliable gateway that enable devices to connect, communicate and collaborate with systems, processes and people, and manage data at the network edge. These gateways also often serve the critical function of a “local historian,” processing data that must be acted on quickly at the network edge and transmitting only essential data to a central site to minimize network costs.
Enabling the Data Driven Business – Productively and Efficiently
We’ve found such an ecosystem of tools and partners can reduce the time required to install and manage each new device or gateway from as many as 100 hours to one hour. Just as important as the savings in costs and effort, remote device management at scale enables data-driven business models that help your customers improve their operations, and drive revenue for you.
It can free you from dependence on tools specific to and controlled by hardware or communications vendors. A unified management platform enables unified, policy-driven lifecycle management that increases agility and helps assure the security of your fleet and your data, as well as your customers and their brands.
Combining Device Update for IoT Hub with robust gateways and a proven roadmap for standardization, automation, integration, you can slash the time required to resolve issues, reduce handoffs among people and systems and further enable productivity and operational efficiency across the device management lifecycle.
IoT data is enabling our customers to grow their aftermarket sales of maintenance services, parts and consumables, sell data-fueled insights to their customers and increase efficiency across the value chain. But none of that is cost-effective or even possible without an automated, centralized and scalable systems approach to continuously manage and update the IoT devices and applications that provide that real-world data.
Reimaging IoT Device Management at Scale
If your organization is struggling to scale the management of your fleets of devices or address their performance, workflow and security issues, you’re not alone. At Bright Wolf, a Cognizant company, we have the deep understanding, tools, and skills required to maximize the benefits of an edge to cloud foundation across a wide range of technologies.
We see the benefits when our clients simplify and automate their IoT device management, proactively addressing challenges rather than relying on manual effort.
We’re excited to be part of Microsoft’s partner ecosystem and demo Device Update for IoT Hub for remote feature enablement and security updates. We invite you to explore this scalable, end-to-end device lifecycle management solution that is flexible, secure, and increases workforce utilization while optimizing operational expenses.