Cloud Connectivity Explained
When an IoT system uses cloud connectivity, it utilizes some or hosts all network services/features from a cloud. These functionalities include, but are not limited to bandwidth, firewalls, routers, encryption features, data storage, APIs, and IoT network management software. Since IoT networks, by definition, have on-premise physical hardware connected to the network, they never operate entirely cloud-based but rather cloud-enabled.
How does cloud connectivity work?
Cloud connectivity is sometimes referred to as cloud networking. Users of a cloud network are granted access to networking resources that are provided by a centralized third-party provider that operates various connected servers. To make use of cloud connectivity, users obviously need to utilize a connectivity protocol, such as WAN, to send data quickly and securely.
Cloud Connectivity in the IoT Landscape
Due to its major advantages in terms of agility, scalability, and efficient use of resources, the cloud is constantly hailed as a revolutionary technological milestone that will greatly reduce operating expenses for many businesses. Cloud solutions can greatly catalyze the adoption of large-scale IoT environments, by significantly reducing the barrier of entry for small- and medium-scale companies.
What are the advantages of IoT or M2M Cloud Connectivity?
As IoT adoption continues to increase, corporations are beginning to recognize the value of extracting real-time data that can be used to make informed business decisions. While IoT-enabled devices vary greatly, some gather complex datasets, that take a lot of processing power to analyze properly by the IoT cloud.
Cloud-based service solutions provide customers with data integration capabilities and are able to handle massive volumes of data. Companies that are deploying an IoT ecosystem no longer have to invest in a central AI cloud facility with strong processing capabilities, but can simply subscribe to a cloud-service and outsource this crucial process. Obviously, this also raises privacy concerns, as the analyzed data is likely highly sensitive.
Low Entry Barrier
As mentioned above, cloud-based networking can be a hassle-free hosting solution. Customers with an IoT infrastructure can benefit from the cost-efficiency provided by large remote data centers without having to invest in costly on-site hardware. Customers of these services are typically only billed for exactly the resources they consume. This means companies can bypass large upfront costs, which can be a significant financial risk, especially if the network needs to be restructured in the near future. Cloud connectivity allows companies to deploy large-scale IoT networks seamlessly.
Cloud+5G = new use cases
Thanks to new revolutionary connectivity protocols, such as 5G, the potential use cases for cloud technology has increased exponentially. We have previously discussed industries, which most prominently benefit from IoT (such as smart homes, construction, logistics, utility, and healthcare). By allowing businesses to utilize remote computing with a single mouse click and eliminating the need for maintaining on-site infrastructure (hardware, but also software), IoT deployment will find new use cases in fresh industries.
Security and Privacy
IoT-enabled devices inarguably transmit confidential, sensitive data most of the time. Ultimately, this is precisely the reason why companies bother to invest in IoT infrastructure in the first place. Massive data sets that are being transmitted over long distances and are being relayed by multiple gateways create a wide variety of potential points of entry for cyberattacks. Security and privacy are major issues in the general IoT domain. Cloud connectivity can provide viable solutions as it offers sophisticated control features, that all customers of a solution can benefit from. They make it easier to implement security measures that are already well-tested by many other companies utilizing the same service. It allows every IoT operator to utilize sophisticated encryption technology and authentication protocols, which can be automatically updated by the service provider. The best cloud solutions out there also keep detailed logs for each IoT device and which users interacted with said device. This helps network operators to troubleshoot and identify inefficient processes or potential bugs in the networks
Every cloud solution has its own network, which is composed of multiple servers that are typically housed in multiple locations, sometimes even across several continents. Decentralization makes cloud solutions agile and reliable, as they will continue to function even if one of the servers is experiencing a malfunction. This also means there is virtually no risk of data loss. While reliable up-time is relatively important for most clients, it is absolutely crucial for any customer using the service to manage their IoT network. If the central cloud of an IoT network is experiencing downtime, it can cause severe connectivity bottlenecks and other major issues.
Facilitating Inter-device Communication
While IoT devices and gateways mostly transmit data, they may also require data to be received. The cloud-based solution provides seamless communication between IoT devices by featuring robust, cross-compatible APIs. Gateways, IoT-Devices, the central cloud, smartphones of employees, and the IoT operator’s office computer may all communicate with each other, both ways.
Better cloud connectivity through edge computing
When a company has thousands of IoT devices in a relatively small area of operation, it makes sense to process and compress all data within the vicinity of the network before transmitting all data to the centralized cloud for further processing. This reduces the volume of data, which often needs to be transmitted long distances to reach the cloud. This significantly shortens the response time and increases the speed of which data can be processed and analyzed, all the while avoiding potential bottlenecks during data transmission.
The future of cloud connectivity and IoT
There are several recent technological advancements that greatly improve the synergy between IoT and cloud connectivity, such as 5G, edge computing, hybrid cloud services, new IoT sensors, and new LPWAN technology. An increasing number of business entities recognize that the indispensability of cloud solutions and the value of IoT landscapes is greater than the sum of its parts. Consequently, cloud connectivity will continue to broaden the viability, efficiency and potential application for IoT or M2M technology.