25 Feb 2015

IoT connectivity unification; simplification; & security

Rob Sheppard, IOT Product & Solutions Marketing Manager, Intel EMEA looks at how to address some of the issues affecting IoT: connectivity, unification & security.

The Internet of Things, IoT is expected to be a multi-trillion dollar market with 50 billion connected devices by 2020.

In conjunction with ‘big data’, it is a technological transformation that will be fundamental in creating new services and revenue streams, and enhancing productivity and efficiency in existing infrastructure by delivering intelligent and autonomous decision-making in real time.

However, there are key areas that are crucial to the success of the IoT including security, interoperability, connectivity and scalability. Intel is addressing these requirements with the Intel® IoT Platform – an end-to-end edge-to-cloud reference model – that enables companies to quickly deliver secure and scalable solutions that harness the power of big data and the IoT.

IoT development

The Internet of Things is the next evolution of computing – it is moving to the ‘cloud plus edge’ paradigm. Increasing numbers of devices are being connected to the Internet and generating increasing amounts of data; compute capability is being integrated into these connected devices from the edge to the cloud; and analytics is being used to extract information from all this created data. Critically, all these things in the IoT will require built-in secure and interconnected intelligence.

It is the ability to connect end-to-end and extract information in real time that will drive the transformation of businesses to achieve greater productivity and efficiency, enabling the reduction of operating expenses, and also increasing revenue streams with the generation of new services and products.

Challenges and Essentials

While the IoT is potentially vast, it is also a highly fragmented universe. The need to tackle issues across a diverse range of markets and different vertical segments can mean a significantly slower pace of innovation and adoption.

The challenges are many when considering how to connect edge devices to the data centre or cloud. In the industrial sector especially, there is the increasing convergence of IT and the operational technologies, OT used in the manufacturing and process control industry and the support required for the integration of legacy infrastructure and protocols. And as a relatively largely nascent market, there is a lack of interoperability or standards for the IoT, not least in terms of connectivity at all levels from device to cloud. And last, and certainly not least, is the consideration of security and privacy.

A number of essential tenets will be required for the development of end-to-end edge-to-cloud solutions for the IoT. Firstly and fundamentally, security will need to be at the foundation. Embedded hardware- and software-level protection will be required including secure boot, identity protection, whitelisting, and encryption from the device up to the cloud.

Also, a multitude of different devices will talk in different protocols and create different data types, so the normalization of data will be key, requiring seamless data ingestion and integrated computing power from end-to-end. This means broad support for protocol normalization, real-time data streaming, closed-loop control systems and over-the-air, OTA device management.

And as countless devices become connected, these will need to be provisioned and managed, all of which is critical to enable scalability. Edge devices and gateways will need to be securely discovered by the cloud within seconds, which will mean broad operating system and communication support, identification at the hardware level, world-class APIs, Application Programing Interface, and API management. In addition, devices and gateways will need to be set up quickly, enabled by an interoperable building-block-based architecture as well as the use of robust and efficient middleware agents.

Finally, developers will need an infrastructure that enables them to monetize their solutions and services with hardware, software and edge-to-cloud data management. And very importantly, customers will need to see the value of an edge-to-cloud infrastructure that delivers insightful and secure analytics in real time that can make a real difference to their business.

Gateways and Platforms

Intel’s IoT Platform is already deployed in many diverse markets for various applications including energy generation, retail, smart buildings, transportation, and in the industrial and manufacturing sector. Gateways are increasingly being deployed to essentially ‘bolt on’ legacy devices and equipment to the Internet and attain valuable data that can be analysed to extract meaningful and actionable information, such as realizing the benefits of predictive maintenance for example. A growing trend is the deployment of increasingly intelligent gateways that provide more and more compute power to filter, aggregate and analyse data at the edge, thereby making savings on data usage costs. In addition, these gateways need to be secure with the increase in new malicious signed binaries and new threats emerging every minute.

Intel has now pulled together its advanced edge, gateway and cloud technologies and capabilities from across its ecosystem to address the key challenges that companies are facing when implementing IoT, including interoperability, security, connectivity and scalability. The new Intel® IoT Platform is an end-to-end reference model that is designed to unify and simplify connectivity and security in the IoT.

The company is also delivering a roadmap of integrated hardware and software products to support the platform as well as developing a wide ecosystem of system integrators and developers that can scale solutions and help move the IoT from infancy to mass deployment. For example, Intel® has recently announced a series of relationships with world-leading companies to develop and deploy solutions based on the platform.

The Intel IoT roadmap spans from edge devices up into the cloud and includes API management and service creation software, edge-to-cloud connectivity and analytics, intelligent gateways, and a full line of scalable Intel Architecture (IA) processors.

Intel IoT Platform

Figure 1 – The Intel IoT Platform

A new addition to the platform is the Intel® Wind River Edge Management System (EMS), which is cloud-based middleware that runs from the embedded device up through the cloud, enabling devices to securely connect to a centralized console. The Edge Management System agent enables cloud connectivity to facilitate capabilities such as data capture, rules-based data analysis and response, configuration and file transfer. The pre-integrated technology stack enables customers to quickly build industry-specific IoT solutions and integrate disparate enterprise IT systems using API management.

The latest Intel IoT Gateway now also integrates this new Wind River EMS tool and enables gateways to be rapidly deployed, provisioned and managed throughout the system lifecycle to reduce costs and time to market. In addition, the gateway includes performance improvements, support for lower-cost memory options and a broader selection of available communication options.

Customers of the Intel® IoT Platform also have access to the Intel Mashery API management tools to create data APIs that can be shared internally, externally with partners or monetized as revenue-generating data services for customers.

As security is a critical part of any IoT solution, an intrinsic part of the reference platform is McAfee Enhanced Security, which included in the Intel IoT Gateway as a pre-validated solution that adds advanced security management for gateway devices. Intel has also developed advanced Enhanced Privacy Identity, EPID technology, which has anonymity properties in addition to hardware-enforced integrity. The EPID technology will also be licensed to other silicon vendors and importantly also allows other devices to securely connect to the Intel IoT Platform.

Building the Future

The IoT is at a relatively early and evolutionary phase, so it will require greater standardization and interoperability for connectivity and data normalization, along with processor and board-level development solutions that are optimized to meet the low power requirements for deployment in the field. It will also need world-class API and data management tools, and above all the reassurance that high levels of security and data encryption technologies have been built in right from the start.

The Intel IoT platform provides a reference model that unifies the gateway, connectivity and security components to makes it significantly easier for customers to develop, tailor and implement their own edge-to-cloud solutions that are secure, scalable and easily maintainable. And in conjunction with real-time data analytics, the reference platform allows companies to achieve increased innovation, reduced operating costs and a higher return on investment for deployed assets.

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About the author

Rob Sheppard is IOT Product and Solutions Marketing Manager, Intel EMEA. He joined Intel in 1982, and has held many technical, marketing and management roles including ramping Intel’s vPro technology in EMEA. His current role focuses on the Internet of Things Products and Solutions, with a particular emphasis on Smart Cities, Smart Buildings, Smart Home and Smart Transportation. Rob holds a joint honours degree in Computer Science and Electronic Engineering from the University of Birmingham, UK.

Intel Corporation is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Santa Clara, California. It is one of the world's largest and highest valued semiconductor chip makers, based on revenue. Intel designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world's computing devices.

Intel is a registered trade mark of Intel Corporation.

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