The biggest misconception in the IoT world
The most common misconception about the "Internet of Things" is the acronym itself.
IoT stands for "Internet of Things"
- It's not "Internet of One thing" - the only thing connected
- nor "Internet of a Dozen" or "Internet of a Hundred" things
Things with "s"!!
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of connected assets to a single fleet delivering a complete IoT solution.
Why is this so important?
Let's look at how the Internet of Things compares to the automobile business.
Both Car and IoT assets act independently by themself. However, both require large-scale infrastructure for management and maintenance.
For example, changing the tires of a car (Summer-Tire, vs. Winter-Tire) would look similar to the following procedure:
- Prepare the "new" set of tires
- Go to the car and decide what tire to start with
- Determine the nut (screw) size and use a correct wrench to loosen the nuts
- Use a car jack to lift the car
- Replace the "old" tire with the "new" one
- Remove the car jack and make sure that all nuts are tight
- Repeat the steps for the other three tires
- Be happy that everything went well
Yes, there is some labour required, but it should take no more than 2-3 hours to complete, and much less if you are an expert.
Changing "Tyres" in the IoT world looks extremely different:
- First of all, we have 100.000 cars = 400.000 tires - Replacing everything at once is too much so let's replace it in batches of 1.000 cars at once.
- Hire 1.000 Mechanics + Helpers + HR Team + management team to coordinate the work as well as the traffic and logistic personal that will deliver new tires and take away the old one
- Find a property that is big enough to fit 1.000 working stations and define all entries and exits with the lowest possibility of congestions
- Estimate the total work time and coordinate with the council. By now it's almost sure this job will block the traffic in the whole city.
- Come up with a management system ensuring all cars are being served (most likely by registration plates)
- Have a warehouse filled with nuts and replacement tools - there is always something that can go wrong
- Prepare for special cases (Rim broken, Wrong Dimension, Round Nuts/Bolts, Battery Problem, Delays, …)
- Start praying that it won't rain on this day
- Provide proper working facilities (toilets, changing rooms, rest areas) for all the working personal - maybe even some food trucks?
- Ensure proper power connection to all working stations since the energy will spike once everyone starts using power tools.
- Finally ... after all the preparation, setup and efforts ... start the actual work of changing tyres
- And do not forget you will need to repeat this at least once a month (security and firmware updates) and ensure at the same time a 99.5% availability (max. 5 working stations can be offline at the same time)
Providing solutions in the real IoT world is a completely different game than connecting just two assets and let them have a chat (data exchange).
IoT is massive!
A customer might have one, two or even a dozen devices on his premises, but the fleet operator must be able to handle hundreds of customers.
It is therefore important to design all building blocks in a way that they are scalable.
Instead of just providing connectivity, an IoT solution should always answer the "mass" questions:
- Will the solution works also for 100, 1.000, 100.000 ... assets or does it need to be changed?
- If No: What needs to be changed ensure scalability?
- If Yes: What are the 2nd order effects? (e.g.: battery drainage or data consumption, asset managment, ...)
IoT Building Blocks
Same as in the "Car " example above, there are tons of attributes in the IoT world that have an impact on the total architecture and performance of a scaled solution.
One IoT project barely matches another, there are always differences. Never then less IoT solutions are based on similar building building-blocks. All of them have boundaries and limitations and what works for one project might require adjustment in another one. But the real magic appears when all blocks are connected into a stack and provide the anticipated outcome.
More about this topic in the next article "10 Building Blocks every IoT project must-have"