Achieving scalability is no mean feat in the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, three out of four companies fail in their efforts to implement and build an IoT solution, demonstrating the task is harder than most anticipate.
Unfortunately, the majority are ill-prepared due to budgetary constraints, poor planning and future compatibility uncertainties. As a result, companies often doubt that the infrastructure, cloud and connectivity layers can scale with them and their devices. In order to navigate the pitfalls and overcome what some call the industry’s final frontier, three elements are key to scalability success.
Start Small Then Build
First, it’s a good idea to limit growth over time. Begin your IoT project with a few manageable devices, periodically adding over time, to work out any kinks before expanding.
The idea is to start small to scale big. This matters because many companies “jump the gun” and pour money into technology strategies before they are even sure they will work. While every company wants to grow, the foundation must be properly established.
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Simplicity Is Key in Scalability with IoT
Second, choosing the right architecture for your project from the beginning leads to fewer problems in the future. In this way, simplicity is vital.
For example, when it comes to communication between IoT devices, the MQTT protocol’s one-to-many system might seem like a good idea for smaller projects. However, down the line, it might not be as effective. This is because of its programming complexity, latency and security issues, as well as the need for constant maintenance.
In the long term, companies are better off using a more simplified architecture. For example, the REST API counts several benefits to developers like improved security, ease of scale and intuitiveness.
Test, Test, Test for Scalability
Most overlook this final tip. However, it is integral to ensuring the long-term scalability of connected device projects: make sure to continuously test all aspects that might influence successful scalability.
Here, you must keep testing as your project scales. Monitor all aspects that influence successful device scalability, including latency levels, device numbers and bandwidth.
Further, study the current data that your project is generating and do stress tests to find its limits. And, once you have repeated this process enough, make the necessary changes to the infrastructure and start testing again. In short, test, test and then test again!
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Take Action Today to Scale Tomorrow
While IoT projects come with their own unique scalability challenges, the above actions go a long way in minimizing such problems. Meanwhile, if you don’t have the bandwidth or confidence, leverage an existing connected device platform. For example, some providers use a distributed back-end with hosting in multiple locations. The platform directs devices and clients to the nearest location for fast access, and each location can scale with demand.
To summarize, if you want to have an IoT project that scales, recognize the challenges. In practice, this means having a strong planning phase, investing the necessary time and money from the beginning, and choosing your architecture wisely.
And did I mention the importance of testing?