Internet of Things (IoT) / M2M Platforms: to build or to buy? That is the question.

14 May. 2014
Author: Crystal Lam

For many organizations looking to best leverage their machine data, the issue whether to build an in-house M2M platform or leverage an existing M2M/Internet of Things (IoT) platform as a service (PaaS) generates a host of questions and considerations.


Is the organization prepared to invest in the necessary infrastructure and big data storage? What is the level of expertise with embedded application and cloud services to manage the complexities of enterprise application integration with M2M devices? How will the organization handle the software interfaces for managing multiple network subscriptions of the various mobile network operators? How will ongoing maintenance, product lifecycle management and total cost of ownership (TCO) objectives and risks be managed? And the list goes on.


Having one foot in the M2M/IoT arena as the leading cellular module manufacturer in the world and one foot in the Web 2.0/IT world with our AirVantage M2M Cloud, provides Sierra Wireless with a unique vantage point. Follows are some of the key reasons why we believe it makes the most sense to choose an existing M2M cloud platform—and to buy instead of build.


Focus on core business

M2M development is a complex undertaking that requires expertise in several domains—from embedded application development, cellular communication systems, to web or mobile app development and more. Additionally, managing connected devices requires not only knowledge in transmitting the data, but also a high degree of expertise in data security (i.e. security in data communication, data storage and secure web access) as well as user and account management.


Using an existing platform and leveraging the proven expertise, methodology and best practices of an M2M solution provider rather than trying to “rebuild the wheel” allows companies to remain focused on their core business and greatly lowers the project risk.


Achieve positive ROI in the first year (not five or ten years later)

The heavy upfront investment in building the M2M infrastructure is only one aspect. M2M solutions, like any IT investment, must be maintained throughout the entire product lifecycle. Annual software maintenance costs for an in-house platform can be anywhere from 25 to 75 percent of the initial investment, making solution profitability much less predictable.


In the context of time to market and cost of ownership alone, AirVantage’s REST APIs enable enterprises to build M2M solutions in a quarter of the time. Instead of one to two years, organization can focus on their application development and release the new service in just a few months. Additionally, the platform requires no upfront investment and provides predictable operational expenses that scale with the growth of the business.


Ensure scalability

Time and time again we see companies trying to develop end-to-end M2M solutions in-house with the primary focus being on their immediate or near-future needs versus the long term. As a result, there is inadequate product definition and infrastructure planning. The risk here, of course, is that as their M2M deployment expands, their infrastructure will become insufficient and will constrain the growth of business. For example, it may become difficult to assure a homogeneous setup over the fleet or upgrade the service application.  


While the Internet of Things is still in its infancy, AirVantage—a proven M2M cloud platform connecting over a million devices from around the world—offers organizations a reliable long-term data management and storage solution. Our device-to-cloud M2M solutions are simple, scalable and secure and they are trusted by companies like Veolia Water and Nespresso.


Support the bottom line

Achieving ROI and scalability through an existing platform service are, of course, not the end goal, but rather a means to cost-effectively support the broader business objectives and deliver bottom-line value. By leveraging M2M industry expertise and best practices through buying rather than building from scratch, organizations can release new services to market and create new revenue streams more rapidly.

On top of that, an M2M platform like AirVantage Enterprise Platform (AVEP) offers the following benefits:


Historical machine data store:

  • A simple REST API for easy access
  • Ability to connect any machine data with MQTT
  • Access to data sent in every communication
  • Extremely high resilience infrastructure
  • Secure access with SSL/TLS
  • Role-based user-access controls
Machine data analysis:
  • Simplify analysis by providing statistics over configurable time ranges from hours to years
  • Many statistics available  including: mean, sum, min, max count, occurrence, standard deviation
  • Interactive customizable dashboards that offer centralized control of the machine data and the mobile network subscriptions from multiple operators
  • An alert rules engine that tracks any data in real time and push notifications by email or to an external application
  • Label tags and metadata to add more context 


If you’re still not convinced which way to go, why not test out an existing platform directly and then decide? Try AirVantage Enterprise Platform for free with up to 10 devices (for 6 months). Use connected machine data and APIs to develop a web/mobile application or integrate data to enterprise systems and then let us know what you think.



Photo credits
The Thinker: Renaud Camus via Compfight cc
Flying kite: launceston_lad via Compfight cc
WWW Data Visualization: Anthony Mattox via Compfight cc

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