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Taking control of your IoT?

The number of IoT (“Internet of Things”) business use cases, from stock management of vending machines to upgrading car security, are growing. Not surprisingly, therefore, IoT technologies, platforms, apps and other offerings are becoming more and more common… And with them, come changes to the relationships between IT, Operations and the Business. But does this impact the positioning of traditional IT infrastructure service providers? Are their existing products suitable for IoT environments?

At VMWorld 2016, VMWare presented their multi-faceted approach to an ‘IoT offering’ which moves them out of their usual infrastructure-heavy product/service focus. Their offering includes;

  • the re-use/reworking of existing Operational App Management products to re-purpose them for ‘IoT health checks’;
  • the provision of a platform to speed up and simplify deployment of IoT use cases;
  • and the launch of ‘Liota’ (Little IoT Agent).

Liota is an open source developer ‘portal’ which allows IoT software developers to make use of its standard protocols for building IoT gateway applications. Through these offerings, Liota in particular (which is a step away from VMWare’s usual offerings), VMWare aims to position itself as a provider of IoT gateway solutions, giving back ‘control’ to the business in their IoT use cases; especially for monitoring, maintaining and developing ‘edge’ systems. Does this open up the potential of a managed IoT infrastructure to larger organisations who want to make use of their millions of ‘things’?

Partially… but there are still a number of risks and questions that VMWare (and other providers) have yet been unable to answer… we may be able to secure gateway apps, but this doesn’t resolve the problem of securing the devices themselves. Furthermore, how do we deliver and implement the business use case – who runs the project… is it IT, Operations, the business or a new dedicated IoT team? And how do you shape the chargeback model for your internal customers?

Undoubtedly, delivering, managing and operating IoT apps and infrastructure is a complex endeavour for both IT and Ops. There are now offerings out there which make life much easier for those organisations wishing to do so… however, they do not solve all the questions (there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution) and organisations must ensure they fully understand and have clear control in place before undertaking this potentially very rewarding endeavour.