Reading the Tea Leaves for IoT Solution Providers

By Howard M. Cohen  |  Print this article Print
IoT solution providers

ANALYSIS:  If the Internet of things sounds as good today as the cloud did five years ago, one wonders where the IoT opportunities will be for channel partners.

Immediate Opportunities for IoT Solution Providers

As you learn more about the kinds of "things" customers want to attach to the Internet, you can become more adept at tuning parameters in customers' networks to better accommodate these low-powered, lossy devices and networks. Making the devices better becomes far too expensive, far too fast at the scale we're describing, so the only solution is better code at the transport layer.

This is the channel's opportunity to take your TCP/IP skills to the next level where they can enable real-world, high-value, high-relevance solutions for customers. Compensating for the impracticality of improving "things" as they are connected to the Internet by improving their code stack is just one example of a business-relevant solution you can deliver going forward.

Perhaps the most important and certainly the most immediate opportunity for channel partners in preparing for the growth of the Internet of things is to help customers through the transition from IPv4 Internet addressing, which completely ran out of addresses back in 2011, to the much larger IPv6 address space.  The addition of billions of more "things" to the Internet, each requiring its own IP address, will not be possible until there are more Internet addresses to be assigned.  IPv4, the original numbering scheme, provided 430 billion addresses none of which remain.  IPv6 provides 34 undecillion addresses, plenty to support such growth.  But all users must be converted to IPv6 before that can be accomplished.

IoT Analytics and Security Solutions

Where do channel partners fit in Internet of things security and offering IoT analytics platforms and other solutions?

Aruba's Tennefoss advised: "It's right in the enterprise. Location-based services. Guiding contractors to machines in need of service and tracking the time spent rendering service. Guiding workers to safety in the event of emergency. Tracking inventory. Tracking physicians and health care staff on rounds to assure compliance, hand washing, visits to the pharmacy, all of these are IoT applications. For channel partners, this is a way of extending opportunities with customers they serve today.

Commenting on customers' exploding appetite for more data analytics, Tennefoss pointed out that "data is the new bacon"—that the appetite for more and bigger data just seems to keep on growing.

Marc Hoppers, director of technology services for Dallas-based channel partner Sirius Solutions, explained that the opportunity to manage data flow starts at the source. "There are many instruments out in the field measuring things," he said. "For instance, a manufacturer has smart machines sending information about their current condition."

When managing all this data, security and IoT data management are primary concerns, Hoppers said. "Depending on the applications used with the instrumentation, you may have differing security needs. An oil company doesn't want competitors or bad actors to get hold of their exploration data. A consumer doesn't want anyone getting hold of your personal info. There's a wide variety of data coming from various types of instruments in a wide variety of formats that needs to be transformed before aggregation."

Partner services around IoT instrumentation and data all lead to a key corporate value proposition: making better decisions, Hoppers said.

Tennefoss concurred. "There's tremendous added value in the data mining. Managed IoT or IoT as a service (IoTaaS).  Analytics engines that mine this data, which is massively complex. There will be a big need for channel partners who understand business processes, a really specialized art."