What is internet of things device management (IoT device management)?
Internet of things device management (IoT device management) involves remotely registering, configuring, provisioning, maintaining and monitoring connected devices from a centralized platform that IT administrators can access with an internet connection from anywhere on any device. IoT device management tools enable organizations to have better control of their mobile devices. Every major cloud provider, i.e., Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, includes IoT device management in its offerings.
How does IoT device management work?
IoT device management works by installing a client software agent on a device that uses a standards-based messaging protocol, such as MQTT, to communicate with the management platform. IoT device management provides control over the entire lifecycle of IoT devices.
The IoT device management process includes the following:
- Registering devices. Users must register their devices with their device management platforms before exchanging data.
- Provisioning. This involves modifying devices from their original, off-the-shelf settings to those that enable the devices to be integrated into the users' networks.
- Authentication. This is a way for users to confirm the identities of their devices as they're enrolled into IoT management systems. This guarantees that only authorized devices are enrolled, keeps sensitive corporate data secure and prevents breaches.
- Configuration. This is the process of personalizing the functionality of the IoT devices. For instance, users can optimize the features of their devices with additional code, revise the settings of their devices for new requirements or add extra intelligence to their devices.
- Maintenance. IoT maintenance ensures that IoT devices in the field can be updated when necessary so they stay up to date and secure.
- Diagnostics. IoT diagnostics enable companies to monitor their connected devices closely to reduce security failures, firmware bugs and the risk of downtime. Additionally, diagnostics gives organizations the data necessary to implement predictive maintenance before minor issues become major problems.
- End of life. When individual devices become obsolete or IoT projects are finished, IoT device management is responsible for securely and cost-effectively decommissioning devices. Companies can retain the devices' data if they're going to replace the decommissioned physical devices or archive the data if they're retiring the devices permanently.
Key features of IoT device management
The main features of IoT device management include the following:
- Easy onboarding. IoT device management software should offer a user-friendly and intuitive onboarding process that enables IT admins to easily add new devices to their systems. The software should include support for many types of devices, such as laptops, IoT devices, smartphones and tablets.
- Troubleshooting remotely. IoT device management software should enable remote troubleshooting to reduce manual efforts and resolve user issues quickly.
- Metadata management. An IoT device device management platform should enable IT admins to easily view and manage each device's metadata, e.g., the serial number, make, model and current version of the firmware. This helps with managing inventory and tracking assets.
- Analytics and reports. IoT devices generally include edge analytics capabilities. Using graphical user interface dashboards, the software can display detailed analytics insights in real time. The data can then be used to create reports for the business.
- Log management. The software should enable IT admins to view and manage the logs each device generates, which can help identify issues and track device activity.
- Security. IoT device management software should have a wide range of security features, e.g., access control, encryption and authentication, to help prevent data breaches and unauthorized access.
- Over-the-air (OTA) updates. OTA updates enable IT admins to push updates and patches easily and quickly to devices automatically.
Benefits of IoT device management
The main benefits of IoT device management include the following.
Simplified process for updating devices
IoT device management enables IT admins to efficiently update many devices in a controlled, phased manner. Admins can configure devices remotely and simultaneously perform software updates for any number of devices or device groups. Not only does this save a huge amount of time, but it also ensures that users can quickly, efficiently and accurately send and receive critical information from their devices.
IoT networks handle sensitive corporate and customer data. IoT device management software can help companies protect this data by implementing data encryption and segmentation. The software enables admins to manage, upgrade and update access to certain devices or device groups, ensuring that the devices and data are always secure.
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Adaptation for rapidly changing business models
IoT device management software enables companies to get the most out of their IoT platforms by enabling them to more quickly shift to new business models. By effectively managing IoT devices, organizations can create better products and services, better understand the needs of their customers and develop new sources of revenue.
Faster IoT device registration
IoT device management offers tools to enable companies to more quickly develop, configure and deploy connected devices, enabling them to put entire networks into operation immediately.
Enhanced device organization
Effective device management enables companies to organize devices into groups and hierarchies and manage the pertinent access policies for each group or hierarchy. This streamlines device tracking and operations and helps companies better align their devices with established security and business practices.
Easier-to-manage remote devices
It can be difficult to access devices in the field that aren't patched or updated. IoT device management enables admins to remotely update, as well as execute reboots, security patches and factory resets, across an entire fleet of IoT devices. In addition, IoT device management enables admins to remotely access, troubleshoot and resolve issues that individual devices might experience.
Drawbacks of IoT device management
As the number of IoT devices increases, so does the number of difficulties managing them. Some of the most common drawbacks of IoT device management include the following.
One of the major concerns with IoT devices is security as these devices are often left unsecured and not password-protected, making them easy targets for cybercriminals. To ensure devices, as well as sensitive corporate and customer data, are protected, companies must control who accesses their devices and their data.
IoT device management helps organizations identify, track and control how many devices are connected at any time. In addition, most IoT device management tools enable organizations to configure strong access controls. Companies should also ensure that users employ strong and unique passwords or use public key cryptography, as well as regularly update device firmware.
In addition to the challenges of managing massive numbers of IoT devices, the explosion of IoT devices can also put a strain on networks as the demand for bandwidth also increases, causing network congestion and outages. IoT device management software usually has features to enable companies to automate and centrally manage device operations.
As more IoT devices come online, it can be challenging for companies to manage the volume and variety of the data they generate as much of it is unstructured and not easy to use. IoT device management tools can collect, organize and analyze this data.
IoT device management use cases
There are number of IoT device management use cases, including the following.
Smart home automation
Using IoT device management platforms, homeowners can remotely manage and monitor their smart home devices, including security cameras, smart locks and thermostats, from a single location. Service providers can use IoT device management platforms to remotely troubleshoot and resolve problems.
Organizations can use IoT device management software to manage and monitor their industrial IoT devices, such as sensors and monitoring systems, to boost operations, increase productivity and reduce downtime.
Companies can implement IoT device management platforms to manage and monitor medical devices, including wearable health trackers and remote patient monitoring systems. And healthcare providers can use these platforms to remotely monitor the health of their patients, track whether patients are taking their medications and identify potential problems before they become serious.
Smart city infrastructure
City officials can use IoT device management to manage and monitor smart city infrastructure, including streetlights, waste management and traffic management systems. Additionally, officials can use this software to enhance operations, save money and improve their sustainability efforts by monitoring the performance of their devices and pinpointing areas for improvement.
Connected heating systems
Facility managers and residents can use IoT device management to remotely control and monitor connected heating systems in their commercial buildings and smart homes via tablets or smartphones.
Popular IoT device management software
There are many IoT device management platforms on the market. The most popular include the following.
AWS IoT Device Management
This IoT device management software from AWS helps organizations onboard, organize, monitor and manage their IoT devices remotely. AWS IoT Device Management includes a suite of AWS IoT services from device software to control services and analytics services.
Azure IoT Hub
The IoT device management software from Microsoft, Azure IoT Hub is hosted on the Azure cloud platform. This software includes features that enable device security, provisioning and managing devices. Azure IoT Hub also includes added services to help developers build IoT applications.
Google Cloud IoT Core
Google Cloud IoT Core helps organizations connect, manage and ingest data from distributed endpoints. Because it's a fully managed service, companies don't need to have any technical expertise on-site.
Hologram is an IoT device management platform for any organization with a globally distributed IoT presence, which makes it challenging to effortlessly establish and manage network connections. Hologram makes it easier for companies to navigate between multiple local carriers as its cellular platform includes SIM cards that switch networks automatically, giving IoT devices coverage across more than 550 carriers in more than 200 countries.