By Ian Marsden, CTO at Eseye.
If you want to utilise the Internet of Things (IoT) and are preparing for a connected device deployment, you’ll probably have worked through many scenarios and options. Machine to machine (M2M) IoT is a complex area and each question can lead to further questions, resulting in a mind-stretching number of inter-related choices. Most importantly, how do you ensure your project is a business success throughout its lifecycle?
Rapid global adoption ensures IoT continues to grow exponentially, with many new and developing projects and supporting services. To make sure you get your deployment right in the long-term, it’s important to evaluate your IoT strategy, as well as your capability to execute it. For businesses that move ahead without conducting a thorough analysis, IoT deployments can lead to many complications.
As leaders in the IoT space, Eseye specifically provides project expertise and services for global cellular connectivity and device optimisation – and are the only AWS IoT Strategic Partner for connectivity. Here is a small selection of the critical questions you should ask before implementing your IoT plan however many more questions will arise as your project develops:
- What are the best options for device connectivity: wired, WiFi, radio or Cellular?
If a wire or WiFi, do you have control over the setting in which the device will exist? Do you know how much the installation of network cabling or infrastructure at each location will add to the cost of your project? Do you control the WiFi? If you don’t, but link to it, how will you ensure you stay connected at each location when something happens on-site? If Radio and you’re deploying worldwide, how will you ensure you adhere to local legislation regarding frequencies, transmitter powers and the approvals you’ll need for each country? If Cellular, to what extent can you be clear about where devices will be located and whether they are fixed or moving? A general rule is: the more global and the more areas your devices are entering, the more you’ll need to invest in the planning and the device.
- How much money will lost connectivity and down-time cost me?
We advise you to calculate this carefully, and we can help. You might be surprised at the speed in which the numbers escalate. For example, single network operators average around 80% coverage at the locations in which IoT devices are installed; Eseye, with dynamic multi-operator SIM technology, averages over 98%. The more downtime costs you, the more you should invest in the build and in connectivity options. You should also estimate the cost of onsite maintenance visits and do everything you can to minimise these. Early procurement savings may have long-term negative results on the project if ongoing costs escalate.
- How should I specify and build devices that will connect and stay connected, wherever they are deployed?
Do you fully understand the range of environments the device is expected to work in? This knowledge is crucial and has significant impact on the hardware and software choices you will make. Will you go inhouse or use a third-party contractor for design, and how much are you prepared to spend on device hardware? Eseye has over ten years of device optimization experience on more than 200 projects, and also manufactures a range of high end Hera routers, so knows well that there are pros and cons to both approaches. This is another area where early planning and investment will reap rewards further down the line.
- For cellular connectivity, how can I contract and connect my devices in multiple locations, regions and countries?
If you plan to manage this inhouse, you’ll need to build expertise and capacity. For global deployments you’ll need to understand local regulations, which for example, can stop a standard roaming SIM card working in a number of countries. Nor is the legislation as light or simple as you might wish: different countries require different certification and are subject to local laws. In terms of contracting with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), if you engage in a multi-country deployment, be prepared to find their world fragmented. There are around 800 MNOs worldwide (source GSMA), and individual contracts will result in you having to manage across multiple SLAs, languages, customer support centers, data price points and billing formats. Plus, if your business case requires over 80% network coverage, you’ll need to contract with at least two different network operators in each country. There are also in-country roaming rules you need to keep on top of. An alternative is to engage with companies like Eseye, who become a single point of contact and contract, and manage all of the above.
- Using customer support services, how can I make sure I get problems fixed quickly?
When you have issues, and there will be some, resolutions will be quicker and more successful if you can talk direct to IoT experts who understand the device and the way it might operate on the network. Not all MNOs deliver this, so make sure you check and get references on customer support from existing clients with similar scale deployments to your own.
- What cloud storage should I use and how will I make sure data can be reported and analysed effectively?
This is the essence and value of IoT: to be able to gather information from all devices and centrally view and manage them, in order to save or make money, or to deliver some other kind of impact, such as social or environmental. There will be a budget and benefit analysis to undertake, but you have two main routes to choose from: either build inhouse server and developer capacity or buy-in Cloud services and configure your project around their rules. Your requirement may be so unique you have no choice but to retain a developer team and to build and manage inhouse hardware and analytics software. However, for most, customisable off-the-shelf storage and analytics solutions will be fit for purpose and give better value and scope to scale. Bear in mind that the bolt-on data analysis and security device management software that companies like AWS are developing will continue to add services; just as long as you are willing to configure by their rules, e.g. MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport). On this note, in establishing their rules, cloud providers have invested thousands of hours designing, building and testing for reliability, in the wide variety of real work scenarios. Whilst you may initially find adhering to some of the design rules and standards difficult and will be tempted to design a simpler custom solution, think hard about whether this is a sensible and scalable, long-term strategy.
- How can I ensure my deployment is as secure as possible throughout its lifecycle?
It is essential to consider the implications of someone getting into your system before it happens, and to invest at the right level. We advocate and provide a range of advanced security features, which bring new, more affordable protection, and at the same time adhere to the security requirements of AWS Cloud. As you prepare your devices and connectivity you should decide where your security boundary is and plan accordingly. Give serious consideration to contracting in third-party penetration testing experts and ensure your team is keen to encourage this.
We have only touched the surface here. Deploying an M2M IoT solution is often highly complex and involves many components to ensure your business needs are met at an affordable cost. By asking the right questions up front, you’ll be able to find the right provider to serve as a single resource for your M2M needs.
Oil rises on positive forecasts, slow U.S. output restart
By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Tuesday, underpinned by the likely easing of COVID-19 lockdowns around the world, positive economic forecasts and lower output as U.S. supplies were slow to return after a deep freeze in Texas shut down crude production.
Brent crude was up 36 cents, or 0.5%, at $65.60 a barrel by 1212 GMT, and U.S. crude rose 39 cents, or 0.6%, to $62.09 a barrel.
Both contracts rose more than $1 earlier in the session.
“Vaccine news is helping oil, as the likely removal of mobility restrictions over the coming months on the back of vaccine rollouts should further boost the oil demand and price recovery,” said UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo.
Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said optimistic oil price forecasts issued by leading U.S. brokers had also contributed to the latest upswing in prices.
Goldman Sachs expects Brent prices to reach $70 per barrel in the second quarter from the $60 it predicted previously, and $75 in the third quarter from $65 forecast earlier.
Morgan Stanley expects Brent crude to climb to $70 in the third quarter.
“New COVID-19 cases are falling fast globally, mobility statistics are bottoming out and are starting to improve, and in non-OECD countries, refineries are already running as hard as before COVID-19,” Morgan Stanley said in a note.
Bank of America said Brent prices could temporarily spike to $70 per barrel in the second quarter.
Disruptions in Texas caused by last week’s winter storm also supported oil prices. Some U.S. shale producers forecast lower oil output in the first quarter.
Stockpiles of U.S. crude oil and refined products likely declined last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.
A weaker dollar also provided some support to oil as crude prices tend to move inversely to the U.S. currency.
(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; editing by David Evans and John Stonestreet)
UK-Japan trade deal settled nerves for Japanese firms, Honda executive says
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s trade deal with Japan settled the nerves of a lot of Japanese businesses in the United Kingdom and gives them confidence about their future prospects there, a senior Honda executive said on Tuesday.
Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has since the 1980s made the United Kingdom its favoured European destination for investment, with the likes of Nissan, Toyota and Honda using the country as a launchpad into Europe.
But Britain’s shock 2016 decision to leave the European Union had prompted Japan to express unusually strong public concerns. Their companies and investors warned that a disorderly exit from the EU would force them to rethink their four-decade bet on Britain.
“We welcome very much the Japanese trade agreement which as a Japanese businesses was very welcomed,” Ian Howells, senior vice president at Honda Motor Europe, told a parliamentary committee.
“On the point around confidence, that certainly amongst my peers in Japanese companies was very much welcomed, and probably settled a lot of nerves in terms of their trading prospects in the UK going forward.”
Britain and Japan formally signed a trade agreement in October, marking Britain’s first big post-Brexit deal on trade. It has also made a formal request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Japan is also a member.
(Reporting by Kate Holton)
UK retailers see sharp fall in sales and mounting job losses, CBI says
LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales fell in the year to February as stores cut jobs at a rapid rate, with only supermarkets reporting any growth during the latest COVID-19 lockdown, a survey showed on Thursday.
The Confederation of British Industry’s gauge of retail sales stood at -45, up only slightly from January’s eight-month low of -50. The measure points to falling sales and is below the consensus forecast of -38 in a Reuters poll of economists.
Retailers’ expectations for March – when non-essential shops will remain closed to the public as part of lockdown measures – fell to -62, the lowest since the series began in 1983.
In another sign of a changing consumer habits during lockdown, the survey’s gauge of internet retail sales hit a new record high.
“With lockdown measures still in place, trading conditions remain extremely difficult for retailers,” said Ben Jones, principal economist at the CBI.
“Record growth in internet shopping suggests that retailers’ investments in on-line platforms and click-and-collect services may be paying off, but the re-opening of the sector can’t come soon enough to protect jobs and breathe life back into the sector.”
Job losses among retailers accelerated according to a quarterly question in the survey. For the distribution sector as a whole, which includes wholesalers and car dealers, employment fell at a record rate, the CBI survey showed.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)
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