5 Crucial IoT Ecosystem Components — Part 2

August 13, 2020 - 8 minutes read

IoT app development

Over the past few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has rapidly grown in numerous industries due to the immense benefits it offers. But many organizations still don’t know where to begin when it comes to their own IoT development endeavors. To clear up any confusion around this topic, we’ve decided to write about it!

Welcome to the second chapter of our two-part series on the essential components of a successful IoT ecosystem. In our previous post, we delved into what an IoT ecosystem actually is and the crucial role that embedded elements like sensors and actuators play in them. In case you missed it, you can catch up here.

In this article, we’ll cover connectivity, the cloud, data analytics, and end-user devices. Ready to begin? Let’s jump right in!

Connectivity

Numerous components comprise an IoT ecosystem. With interconnectivity, these elements are able to work with each other to decipher data and implement meaningful actions. Essentially, connectivity enables an IoT ecosystem to become greater than the sum of its parts. We can break connectivity down into two puzzle pieces: protocols and gateways.

IoT Protocols

As we discussed in our previous post for this series, sensors collect data. But after that, this information needs a medium to get where it needs to go. Put another way, IoT ecosystems require a communication channel between its sensors and the cloud. This is where IoT protocols come in.

IoT app development

Using an “invisible” language, IoT protocols transfer data online between two connected devices. They basically allow physical objects to “speak” to one another.

Power consumption, range, bandwidth, and data transmission should all factor into your choice of network protocol. Popular options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, DDS, cellular, ZigBee, and MQTT. These channels make information exchange in your IoT ecosystem seamless and secure.

IoT Gateways

To reach the cloud, the incoming raw data collected by the sensors must pass through a gateway. Remember that “invisible” language we mentioned earlier? Gateways translate network protocols so that all devices within the network can communicate efficiently. They’re an integral communication point and make data traffic management much easier.

IoT app development

Gateways also provide a much-needed layer of security by protecting the IoT ecosystem from unauthorized access. All of the information that flows through a gateway is protected by the latest encryption standards.

As if these capabilities weren’t enough, gateways also preprocess sensor data before transferring it to the cloud. New IoT gateways even have the ability to analyze and minimize sensor information so that the cloud only receives what’s relevant.

The Cloud

Think of the cloud as the place that ties all of your IoT ecosystem components together. A large chunk of your information processing, including data handling, storing, and even decision-making, take place in the cloud. This is even more amazing when you consider that the cloud does all of this for gargantuan amounts of information in a few milliseconds.

Time is a critical factor for IoT, especially for real-time systems being used in healthcare and safety. This means latency cannot be compromised. Thanks to enormous computing power, vast storage capabilities, and myriad networking options, cloud systems are able to cater to an IoT system’s time-sensitive needs while handling a ton of data. In essence, they form the brain of an IoT ecosystem.

IoT app development

It’s worth noting that the cloud isn’t always necessary for IoT; edge computing is a viable option as well. But the cloud is usually preferred due to its high performance, simple scalability, and cost-effectiveness. On the other hand, edge computing may be favored if your IoT initiative requires large amounts of data processing and storage on-premises.

IoT Data Management

Data is the lifeblood of your IoT system. But without proper management and analytics, you can’t make sense of the large amounts of information you’re collecting. Whether you want to hone in on key performance indicators of your system or identify errors in real-time, data management and analytics are a must.

Analytics revolves around converting the raw data of your IoT system into intelligent insights that can be leveraged to make better decisions. Unsurprisingly, this capability is useful in multiple situations; measuring a facility’s temperature or an equipment failure rate are both common scenarios.

IoT app development

Data management and analytics need robust computing power and storage to make sense of an IoT system’s information. But it’s well worth the investment since they help determine vital business insights, predict trends, and drive better efficiency. Many of the tasks involved in analytics can possibly be hosted on the cloud. This will ultimately depend on your IoT architecture.

End-User Devices

End-user devices provide an easily accessible interface that people can use to control various components of the IoT ecosystem. Basically, this is where users can set their preferences for the system. And the more user-friendly the interface is, the easier it is to interact with.

When it comes to the actual interaction, users usually have a couple of options: either interact with the device itself or do so remotely via other devices such as smartphones or tablets. An example of this would be the smart home devices developed by Seattle-based Amazon; these allow users to seamlessly communicate with a variety of “things.”

IoT app development

Design is key here. IoT devices can easily set themselves apart from competitors with better user interfaces. Colors, font, voice, and menus all play important factors here. Just remember that the goal is to remove as much friction as possible.

Time to Get Your IoT Ecosystem off the Ground!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series on the essential components of an IoT ecosystem. These systems, as well as their use cases, are constantly evolving. And mechanisms can differ depending on industry use cases and budget. But each of the components we discussed usually remains the same.

Are you working on building out an IoT ecosystem or initiative right now? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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