Although the hype surrounding the Internet of things is most certainly off the charts—which may give some solution providers pause—a new ecosystem is emerging that offers a range of opportunities, and IoT partners are digging in.
From simply connecting devices to the Internet of things environment to collecting, integrating, managing and analyzing all the data from those devices, just about every aspect of IoT requires IT organizations to master new technologies. As a result, many channel partners are already positioning themselves to reap the benefits of IoT investments that McKinsey & Company says will generate more than $11.1 trillion a year of economic value by 2025.
Case in point is Senet, an IoT solution provider that previously limited the scope of its activities to hooking up monitors to heating oil tanks. Now Senet is building an entire IoT services practice around low-power WAN (LPWAN) technologies, such as LoRaWAN, an open specification that has been created to provide a lower-cost alternative to existing cellular and networking technologies for connecting devices to the Internet.
Driven by a LoRa Alliance that counts Cisco and IBM among its members, Senet decided to become a contributing member of the alliance early on, said Steve Ball, senior director of product management for the solution provider. That level of commitment is already starting to pay off, he said.
“We already have two-dozen platform partners,” Ball said. “Analysts are already projecting that 50 percent or more of IoT connections will be made using LPWANs.”
IoT Partner Opportunities
IoT partner opportunities, however, go well beyond the end point. Not only does a new generation of highly distributed analytics applications have to be built, all that data needs be integrated via the gateways that billions of IoT devices will feed a constant stream of data into every day. The real IoT challenge going forward will be the nuances associated with collecting, integrating and ultimately analyzing all that data. IoT service providers that can address this stand to benefit.
For that reason, Space-Time Insight, a provider of real-time analytics software, spent $13 million recently to acquire GOFACTORY, a developer of tools for collecting streams of data from end points, to make it possible to create an IoT solution significantly faster.
“We think IoT is ultimately all about gaining situational intelligence,” said Steve Ehrlich, senior vice resent of product management for Space-Time Insight. “But instead of taking two years, we think you can get there in three months.”
IoT Security Challenges
IoT security challenges will also prevent opportunities for solution providers. Most IT organizations have little-to-no visibility into those end points, much less any ability to secure them.
In a new survey, seven in 10 IT professionals lacked confidence in their ability to see connected devices as soon as they joined their networks. Another 30 percent said their companies did not have a specific solution in place to secure IoT devices, and more than one-fourth do not know if they have security policies for those devices, according to the survey of more than 350 IT professionals commissioned by network security specialist ForeScout Technologies and conducted by Webtorials.
“IoT represents an evolution of IT,” said Rob Greer, chief marketing officer and senior vice president for products at ForeScout. “But a lot of this will depend on how an organization defines IoT.”
Many organizations, for example, already have operations teams that have spent years investing in machine-to-machine technologies. The challenge now, said Greer, is integrating all that data with back-end systems in a way that creates actionable intelligence.