There’s really no question that the Internet of Things (IoT) will offer a variety of opportunities for all sorts of industries and professions, and independent software vendors (ISVs) stand to gain new business. Those who can develop custom solutions for individual customers will gain both traction and gain more growth opportunities.
3 layers of ISV opportunities in Internet of Things (IoT)
There are three key layers of IoT opportunities where ISVs can better target their solution development:
- Cloud platforms: Individual or sets of PaaS services where cloud-based solutions can be developed. Cloud platforms are where you’re going to find things such as specialized analytics and IoT services.
- IoT platforms: A mix of PaaS and SaaS services that serve as rapid development layers usually built on top of a cloud platform.
- IoT solutions: Where we find the actual end-user applications that aid product or manufacturing companies to extract insights from IoT data feeds from products themselves.
Note: IoT solutions can be built either on 1) an IoT platform, or 2) on top of a cloud platform.
IoT platforms and IoT solutions differ in their scope and approach to development
IoT platforms are the building layer for IoT solutions, so they have much larger and wider scopes that concentrate on all the high-level aspects of hosting, running and executing systems. The scope of an IoT solution is much narrower and often focuses on a single workload for a single customer. An example would be an IoT solution that focuses on predictive maintenance of various devices that are present either in the field, or in a home or vehicle. Think of the monitoring of pumps and gauges in a specific oil and gas company or simply the output of a cooling and heating system.
The table below provides an overview of various scopes for each type of development, target customers, capabilities and typical cloud models…
|Layer||Scope||Target||Capabilities||Typical cloud model|
|Cloud platforms||Development of general-purpose cloud solutions||Developers||Set of cloud services and developer tools for application messaging, storage, compute, security, networking, web apps, management, analytics, and IoT||IaaS/PaaS|
|IoT platforms||Rapid development of IoT solutions||Developers||Pre-built, configurable apps, templates, dashboards, analytics, and ML models.
GUI IDEs and data modelers.
Device connectors and protocol adapters.
Application security and management services.
|PaaS + SaaS|
|IoT solutions||A specific customer’s workflow||End Users||Specific to the customer and its workload||SaaS|
Source: Microsoft ↗
Keep in mind that most IoT platforms also offer IoT apps that look like IoT solutions. While these apps are close to an end-user IoT solution, technically speaking they are not and may require possible configuration levels. These apps target developers and not end users, which is why they’re considered part of the IoT platforms level and not actual IoT solutions.
IoT solution components: collection, analytics and action
Typical IoT solutions have three solution components: collection, analytics and action.
Source: Microsoft ↗
The collection phase is concentrated on device connectivity, data ingestion and raw data storage. At this level you’ll find:
- the devices themselves
- edge devices
- cloud gateway(s)
- raw data storage and other systems.
ISVs can target collection development areas such as:
- Software or hardware adapters performing protocol translations between the devices and the cloud
- Any sensors that may need to be retrofitted onto legacy equipment enabling them to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT)
The analytics section (engines and databases) let users interact with IoT data and gain valuable and actionable insights. Areas where ISVs can target analytics development include developing visualization, reporting and dashboards solutions. For example, IoT data dashboards or reports that use recent analytics and/or historical data, or artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) models for predictive maintenance, inventory optimization, energy management and production optimization.
Keep in mind that solutions with analytics capabilities need to have the following:
- Data models to support use case specific analytics
- Data transformations needed to clean raw IoT data into an analyzable form
Machine learning driven analytics solutions need advanced items such as:
- Pre-selected ML algorithms
- Data transformations needed to prepare the data to train the ML models
- Code to deploy the ML models, connect them to client applications and refresh them with new data
The action section houses components that execute actions from insights extracted from the IoT data. Actions include messaging to and from line-of-business systems and back to devices using CRM, PLM, ERP, MES, SLM, etc. An example of this would be corrective actions such as stopping the device. ISVs can target the Action development of:
- Rules on streaming or stored data
- User actions from end-user UIs
- Predictions or recommendations from ML models
- Integrations with other systems
Opportunities for ISVs to develop IoT solutions customized to individual customers
Ares of opportunity include:
- Unique or complex data analytics requirements.
- Complex OT environments such as brownfield environments (devices from the many vendors and different years that send data in diverse formats and protocols)
- Complex IT environments that have a variety of line-of-business applications with unique data security and governance requirements
Keep in mind that, as an ISV you are well placed to:
- Build customer solutions on top of IoT and cloud platforms
- Provide any ongoing data analytics services, like reporting
The Internet of Things is a complex, fragmented space. Your expertise will help drive opportunities opportunities forward! Some current areas of opportunity include:
- Easing client machine connection to any edge device(s) or cloud gateway(s)
- Creating actionable insights based on extracted IoT data, framed as opportunities to encourage businesses to be more competitive
- Developing IoT platforms and pre-built IoT apps to accelerate the development of IoT solutions
Microsoft Azure is the ideal vehicle for ISVs to develop solutions
Microsoft Azure represents a major big player in the ISV solution space. Anything from Azure IoT Hub, Azure IoT Edge, Azure Event Grid, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Blobs Storage, Azure SQL Servers and SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Data Lake Analytics, Azure Databricks, Azure Data Factory, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Machine Learning and Azure Time Series Insights are all possible contenders to base your solutions.
Looking to take advantage of growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) space? As a value-added cloud solutions provider, Sherweb is committed to helping IT providers and ISVs reach their individual business goals. Check out our Partner Guide for more information, or sign up for our partner program ↗ today.