• United States

4 criteria enterprises use to pick best-in-class IoT device management

May 31, 20184 mins
Internet of Things

When bedazzled by IoT data management and analytics tools, don’t make the mistake of overlooking the importance and complexities of IoT device management.

Everyone talks about the excitement of collecting reams of Internet of Things (IoT) data and performing Herculean statistical gyrations on them. IoT data management and analytics are very important: this is how we can accomplish predictive maintenance on factory assets, help robots interact better with humans, and get cars to drive themselves more safely than my 17 year old son behind the wheel.

The wise know that IoT data management is relatively easy to implement, but successfully accomplishing IoT device management for heterogeneous devices in-bulk is like navigating your canoe past the sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis.

What makes great IoT device management?

IoT device management (DM) is an offering that provides device lifecycle management functionality associated with the deployment and ongoing maintenance of IoT assets. Typical DM functionality includes asset provisioning, firmware upgrades, security patching, alerting, and reporting on specific metrics associated with IoT assets. Typical IoT assets include IoT gateways, retrofitted and new industrial equipment, and Linux-based devices like Arduinos.

Enterprises use IoT DM for a variety of critical tasks. In fact, when MachNation completes hands-on tests of IoT platforms in MachNation’s IoT Test Environment (MIT-E), we complete 25 typical workflows that enterprise do with IoT device management platforms such as

  • Adding new managed and unmanaged logical devices to the DM platform
  • Configuring and compiling a device agent for a device
  • Monitoring current and historical network status
  • Configuring a device- and customer-defined metadata parameter
  • Pushing firmware and software to a device
  • Triggering a command remotely for a device
  • Obtaining the diagnostic log for a device
  • Rebooting a device remotely

Since picking best-in-class IoT Device Management is critical for enterprises deploying IoT solutions, MachNation has identified the top four requirements of IoT DM based on enterprise requirements.

1. Pick a platform that makes integration north and southbound easy.

Enterprises should pick an IoT DM that integrates easily and efficiently with existing hardware and software assets while also providing a well-defined path for new asset deployments. An effective DM should provide appropriate programmatic and non-programmatic resources to enable integration of managed and unmanaged devices into the platform and to provide the ability to make sensor and machine data available to external systems.

2. Choose a platform that has excellent device lifecycle management for deployment and ongoing operations.

A leading lifecycle management solution must provide capabilities for both initial asset rollout such as onboarding or software deployment and the ongoing operational maintenance of that asset such as diagnostics, monitoring, and alerting. An efficient and capable operational management layer is key to providing cost-effective support of connected assets over the course of their service life.

3. Select a platform that has an appropriate architecture and security model.

The architecture of a DM platform is crucial to ensure an IoT solution functions effectively at the time of initial deployment and serves the customer over the lifetime of the implementation as the number of devices and platform complexity increase. A quality technical implementation without an excellent underlying DM architecture is an easily made, but inevitably expensive mistake for a customer. Enterprises should evaluate four criteria for overall DM architecture: security model, productization, scalability of the platform, and flexibility of the multi-tenant/multi-customer offering.

4. Ensure an IoT DM vendor has a well-executed business strategy.

Enterprises should spend time understanding an IoT DM vendor’s business strategy and partnerships. All other things being equal (which they never are), a large IoT DM vendor will be more able than a small DM vendor to provide the resources needed to make a successful IoT DM product and ensure deployment success. The best IoT DM vendors will have a well-developed network of technology- and business-enabling partners. Due to lack of expertise with IoT solutions, enterprises rely on these partnership networks to efficiently implement IoT solutions using industry best practices.

IoT device management remains one of the most complex pieces of IoT technology to choose. Many enterprises pick an IoT device management platform for a proof-of-concept only to discover later that the platform will not support their deployment at scale. Relying on hands-on usability and functionality tests to understand IoT DM platforms’ capabilities is the most prudent way to determine the platform that is right for an enterprise.


Steven Hilton is a co-founder and President at MachNation, the leading insight services firm researching Internet of Things (IoT) middleware and platforms. His primary areas of expertise include competitive positioning, marketing media development, cloud services, small and medium businesses and sales channels.

Steve has served on Cisco’s IoT World Forum Steering Committee where he was co-chairperson of the Service Provide and Security working groups. Steve has 25 years’ experience in technology and communications marketing.

Prior to founding MachNation, he built and ran the IoT/M2M and Enterprise practice areas at Analysys Mason. He has also held senior positions at Yankee Group, Lucent Technologies, TDS (Telephone and Data Systems) and Cambridge Strategic Management Group.

Steve is a frequent speaker at industry and client events, and publishes articles and blogs in several respected trade journals. He holds a degree in economics from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Steven Hilton and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.