The Industrial Internet of Things FEATURE NEWS

From Legacy to Leading Edge: Transitioning Industrial IoT Deployments

By Special Guest
Arti Loftus, Guest Correspondent
July 26, 2017

While network modernization — from circuits to software, from MPLS to Internet overlay, and from 3G/4G to 5G and LTE — is well underway, transformation doesn’t happen overnight. The fact is, many very large IoT deployments, particularly in the industrial sector including asset management, energy plant and grid control, have been implemented on “traditional” networks.

So how are enterprises evolving their networks to support the next-generation of IoT and IIoT projects?

Raj Singh, CEO of Velankani, a software development and systems integration company headquartered in Somerset, New Jersey, US, who is working with a range of technology companies as well as Tier 1 communications service providers, has a unique view into the current state of IoT networking with an eye to the future.

“There’s no truth to the rumor that the growth of IoT has been constrained by lack of network capabilities to connect everything from smart cars and smart cities, to smart homes and smart factories,” Singh said. “We have been working in IoT software development for networking for years, including writing code that expands current infrastructure capabilities to keep up with new protocols in the IoT world. There are many creative ways to keep in-place networks current, and secure, and our initial traction in IoT has been based on updating MPLS and VPN networks, working with a variety of vendors, to support IoT programs.”

While it makes sense to avoid “rip and replace” for current projects, Singh recognizes that NFV and SDN approaches will be far more cost-effective and agile going forward.

“We’ve been doing a land office business also in providing development services to next-generation IoT companies,” Singh said. “Because we are also experts in software-based networking, we are being asked more and more to create greenfield products for pure play IoT companies, including asset management, public safety and security solutions delivered over the Internet, these include private networks that leverage the Internet for it’s reach and economics.”

Like many network technology development and management companies, Velankani has evolved its own solutions as software and networking have combined and morphed into service delivery platforms.

“One of the hottest areas we’ve been working in is platform development,” Singh said. “There’s so much hype out there now about IoT platforms, leaving a lot of enterprises scratching their heads about which platform to use.”

Recent estimates put the number of IoT platforms at more than 700, with dozens in the networking space.

“What we’re seeing that works are dependable platforms truly supported by services and solution providers who strip out the complexity and offer end-to-end offers, from design and engineering to development, implementation and ongoing management. The business model is great for those companies who have the appetite to build complete, turn-key platform solutions and don’t stop at the platform itself.”

Singh also noted that in a multi-carrier world, with multiple cloud providers, the complexity of next-generation, cloud-based IoT and IIoT networking need interconnection strategies. “Large IoT based systems are, by their nature, geographically distributed, often globally distributed, so enterprises rely on underlying access and transport services from many different carriers. This is why service providers who are willing to manage an aggregation of multi-carrier connections are doing so well.”

Furthermore, Singh shared the trend towards “BYOA” – “Bring Your Own Assets” – where enterprises rolling out IoT and IIoT deployments are preferring to turn “systems” and “networks” over to third parties, desiring “username and password” access to web-based consoles where they can login and view what’s happening in the environment.

“IT teams don’t have the expertise or resources to build and manage their own IoT networks,” Singh said. “They are getting more and more comfortable with the cloud, and therefore more and more comfortable with cloud providers who design, engineer, provision and manage entire networks.”

Singh has additionally seen a huge demand for development using APIs, enabling the networks they help build to ship data into business applications easily. “We’ve never seen more interest in open standards than in the IoT world,” Singh said. “No one company can do everything, and while full-service solutions companies, like the ones we support, are growing exponentially – they are the first to say that it takes an ecosystem to make IoT work.”

Asked how long he believes it will be before IoT is no longer reliant on legacy networks – in other words, how long the “transition” period will be – Singh said, “I’ve been in the telecoms and now real time communications industry for many years. Everything takes longer than the visionaries and pundits claim. We’ve seen over and over that businesses can make money in the transition, getting more value out of legacy networks which used to be the next-generation networks. The key, however, to sustainable success, is making sure you are part of the present and the future, to disrupt creatively, paying attention as much to the economics of change as the excitement of new technologies.”

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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