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Three rules for IoT and edge scaling

This is the fourth and final part of a four-part series. Start with the first post here.

When it comes to IoT and edge, business case and stakeholder alignment  are the first two hurdles to overcome across IT, operational technology and the line of business. Next comes fragmentation — which is why EdgeX matters — followed by security. Basically, if you can’t get past the first three challenges, you don’t have a security concern because you aren’t deploying anything at scale.

Security is about working with trusted partners that know how to deploy security measures at scale, as well as striking a fine balance between locking solutions down and making them useable. I call this security usability. While the general tools necessary to secure IoT and edge deployments are available today, there’s still work to be done to make them usable enough to deploy at scale for the average person.

Conversely, most of the breaches we hear of are in consumer incidents. This is because developers make their solutions too useable. Users are able to bypass any security measures, such as changing the default password, so that they can get instant gratification during setup. Unfortunately, it turns out hackers can then get instant gratification, too.

Considerations for IoT and edge scaling

To scale edge and IoT deployments — regardless of use case — you need consistent, open data ingestion, security and management surrounded by enhanced, pluggable and value-added technology.  Domain-expertise is also a very important component to scaling edge and IoT deployments. Three key considerations are:

  1. First, it’s important to decouple infrastructure from applications. EdgeX Foundry combined with other open frameworks and platform-independent commercial infrastructure add value.
  2. Second, it’s critical to untether all of your edges from any given cloud through open, cloud-native principles, making the break as close as possible to the point of data creation in the physical world. This enables you to control your data through any permutation of on-premises or cloud data integration, rather than pumping your data into a cloud and then having no choice but to pay API egress charges to fan it out anywhere else. The big clouds are all doing great things to help customers, but their multi-cloud strategy is one that requires you to send your data to cloud vendors. From there, they’ll add another charge in order to send it anywhere else. In short, you need a multi-cloud strategy that starts with an open edge.
  3. Finally, it’s important to decouple industry-specific domain knowledge from underlying technology. As an example, many IoT platform providers tout the ability to execute predictive maintenance on a machine. But their developers don’t have the necessary years of hands-on experience, and they lack historical data on the failure patterns of any particular type of machine.

The winners in the end will run the best differentiated applications, domain knowledge, algorithms, data science and services on consistent, flexible and scalable infrastructure.

Scale to sharing and selling data and resources

These rules are just the basics. Over time, by integrating the following example technologies in the right way, we’ll enable the intrinsic, pervasive trust needed to scale to sharing and selling data and resources — such as compute, networking, energy, ride shares or anything consumable on your terms to people you don’t even know. This is the real opportunity and scale factor, and you can’t get there without a trusted edge backed by the right combination of open technologies. Examples of open technologies are:

  • Silicon-based root of trust.
  • Universally-trusted device provisioning facilitated by efforts such as Secure Device Onboard.
  • Open, de-facto standard APIs established by projects like EdgeX and others within the broader LF Edge umbrella project.
  • Appropriate connectivity and regulatory standards such as privacy and ethical AI.
  • InterPlanetary File System for distributed object-based storage.
  • Distributed ledger such as blockchain for smart contracts.

With differentiated commercial value-add on top of this open, trusted technology, anyone will be able to create data in the physical world. In the meantime, know that even if you’re starting with some simple use cases, the only way to scale to pervasive sharing or selling of data and resources over time is with an open edge.

In closing, it’s important to plan ahead when architecting for the long term, even if you’re starting with a simple use case. You need a multi-cloud strategy that starts with an open edge if you ever want to realize the true potential of edge and IoT. After all, imagine the internet without open interoperability.

Think big, start small, collaborate and embrace an open, trusted cloud-native edge.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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