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IoT set free: cellular connectivity as the enabler of cloud

Written by Frank Stoecker, CEO & co-founder at EMnify.

Cloud pervades the world of business. Whether it’s public, private or hybrid cloud; whether it’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), most corporates view cloud and cloud services as a crucial pillar upon which their fortunes are built.

Some may scale up, using private cloud resources, buying or renting more hardware as necessary. Others may scale out, using public cloud, which gives them near-unlimited access to resources, but with added operational expense.

Infrastructure, platform or software as a service – to some it doesn’t need a second thought. It’s part of their digital furniture. For others, it’s perhaps a newly integrated business enabler, streamlining, safeguarding and boosting their strategic business plan. And for others again, operating in sectors traditionally averse to digital transformation, cloud is now recognized as a complex but necessary catalyst for positive change.

The IoT advantage of cloud

Though IoT solutions don’t necessarily need cloud technologies, there are substantial advantages to using cloud in IoT applications. Cloud delivers remote access, greater levels of data processing power and better security, with the individual end points collecting data and performing key actions against the backdrop of cloud.

With smart decision making, data processing, insights mining and commands all happening in the cloud, surely there’s an opportunity to leverage cellular connectivity as well. That was the thinking that launched EMnify in 2014, securing its place as one of the first connectivity providers with a cellular platform in the public cloud, providing cloud-native cellular IoT connectivity worldwide.

Transformation through cloud native connectivity

Historically, there’s been a disconnect between IoT and cloud solutions. Many IoT deployments were unable to reach their full potential, incapable of harnessing all that cloud has to offer. That’s because, even though applications, software and systems were hosted in the cloud, connectivity was still being provided through traditional operator cellular contracts and connections. And that can cause serious bottlenecks.

Technology has evolved. End-to-end cloud native network architectures are now easily achieved and financially viable, allowing enterprises to fully utilise the agility, scalability, resiliency, elasticity and economies of the cloud in every aspect of running a connected business.

The IoT benefits of a cloud native future

This sets enterprises free, allowing them to overcome the limitations of traditional connectivity models. There’s no more inflexibility, no more bottlenecks and no more needless expense that prolongs IoT time-to-market and time-to-revenue. Cloud-native ecosystems transform workflows into plug-and-play environments, avoiding the need for restrictive contracts and hardware-based APIs.

When using cloud-native connectivity solutions, a wide range of benefits can be enjoyed from the outset, including:

  • Self-service. You can begin right away without having to succumb to any of the usual lengthy administrative burdens. There’s no signing contracts, no opening tickets and no contractual commitments. Instead, it’s all taken care of with automated workflows.
  • Integrations. With cloud native connectivity, it’s easy to establish connections between devices, applications and systems. This opens the door to improved operational efficiencies and heightened security. What’s more, the connectivity solution can easily be integrated into your own and any third-party applications and cloud services.
  • Ubiquitous low latency. You’ll enjoy reliable, low-latency connectivity to a cloud-native, highly reliable core network that reaches around the globe, selecting the best option for each individual situation. Instead of routing data to the cellular operator’s home country, data is routed directly to the closest cloud region. This not only reduces latency, but also reduces device energy consumption, extending battery life and improving service availability.
  • Global cellular network. It’s easy to scale up across national and network borders without the need to source from different vendors when you choose cloud-native cellular IoT connectivity. Even on a per-country basis, multiple networks can be accessed through one global IoT operator, allowing management of all connectivity aspects in just one platform.
  • Cost-effective. Efficiencies of cloud translate into potential cost savings, with microservices, network function virtualization and software-defined networking features all playing a part in managing costs. Access to these tools makes networks more responsive and cost-effective to manage, provision, deprovision and troubleshoot through software solutions. Not only is responsiveness increased, but they also allocate processing power only when required. And this saves hardware, disk space, energy and cost.

A focus on core competencies

There’s no doubt that end-to-end cloud-native connectivity can overcome the barriers put in place by traditional operator contracts and connections. It allows business leaders to achieve the fastest time to ROI, as well as sidestepping many of the pitfalls associated with siloed deployments.

Intensive IT administration, skillset-specific maintenance of on-premise servers, networks and virtualization platforms, as well as operational inefficiencies can all be significantly reduced when you transition from a private, physical server hosted within an organisation or data centre, towards a comprehensive cloud platform. Alleviating overheads, expenses and administration pressures allows a business to focus on creating outstanding IoT solutions, while a cloud provider handles the connectivity.

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