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The IoT and cloud marriage seems almost perfect; however, the integration between the two is something that telcos need to consider to help enterprises and consumers take advantage of Industry 4.0 capabilities such as real-time monitoring, predictive maintenance, and autonomous operations of vehicles and equipment to explore new revenue stream opportunities.

The adoption and deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructures and systems for a wide set of applications such as fintech, logistics, healthcare, and smart cities, etc. are gaining ground. The total installed base of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices worldwide is projected to amount to 30.9 billion units by 2025, which is a quick climb from the 13.8 billion units that were expected in 2021. And the high demands on data storage, processing, and management services are being met through cloud-based data centers.

IoT services and related cloud infrastructure investments are expected to grow faster than general public cloud spending and will thus increase in strategic importance during the coming years as the public cloud becomes a multi-trillion-dollar market. Cloud services now act as a computation and data processing platform as well as management platforms for IoT deployments.

Cloud plays a big role when it comes to scalability and essentially reduces upfront CAPEX as well as provides energy efficiency for IoT deployments on the infrastructure level. When deploying IoT solutions across multiple regions, it becomes important for businesses to manage things centrally. Cloud provides great value-add in terms of troubleshooting and quick response time. Additionally, IoT systems are likely to require the use of a variety of processing software for efficient operations, and the adaptability of cloud services is suited to deal with new requirements, firmware updates to enable new service offerings.

To be successful, telcos need to become cloud-first businesses by accelerating their digital transformation, innovating faster, and creating value by helping customers fast-track their applications and data modernization initiatives, building and operating modern cloud environments while delivering ongoing innovation and transformation. One such technology supporting the IoT cloud strategy is Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT). It is being deemed as the proposed 4.5G standard technology that brings considerable advantages to mobile operators building their low power wide area (LPWA) networks when it comes to deployment, operation, and re-usability of existing processes, IT, and infrastructure assets. Sensor nodes using NB-IoT can send data to the cloud and can directly communicate with other NB-IoT nodes setting up a fog computing paradigm on peer-to-peer subnetworks. This approach may be crucial for the development of complex IoT infrastructures while providing high flexibility.

Typical IoT cloud services

Managing billions of IoT devices requires a set of dedicated cloud services. IoT Analytics classifies IoT cloud offerings into three main categories.

IoT application management/enablement: These include cloud services designed to enable the developer to make and manage IoT applications. IoT-specific application development and management services include rule engines, IoT development environments, and digital twins.

IoT device management: These include cloud services designed to ensure connected things are working properly by seamlessly running patches and updates for software and applications running on the device or edge gateways. Examples include device monitoring, firmware updates, or deployment configuration management.

IoT data management/enablement: These cloud services are designed for seamless asset/edge connectivity, such as drivers to connect devices and for providing the capabilities to store and analyze IoT data.

Telcos can consider IoT platform as a service (PaaS) in some areas, such as the following:

Leveraging real-time:  IoT systems function in real-time. By using real-time data streams to optimize internal operations or to track business performance, companies can improve efficiencies such as saving energy, waste reduction, better response speed, data-driven application, and automated business processes.

Green networks: IoT and AI can also be used in the 5G network to reduce the network’s carbon emissions and combine them with other vertical industries to improve production efficiency, which will lead to a cut in carbon emissions.

IoT at the edge: Today, there are more mobile devices than people in the world. Mobile devices and networks data can be stored at the edge of the network or stored centrally in data centers. Provisions for enhancing enterprise edge cloud capabilities can add value to connectivity services by easily connecting devices, assets, IT-OT systems from edge to cloud.

Keeping the data safe

IoT as a business intelligence tool is undoubtedly proving to be beneficial; however, secure communication to IoT devices, data, and device management capabilities, such as device provisioning and data protection policies are critical to achieving better interoperability and cohesion with other services in the IoT value chain. A security model that starts at the device layer and seamlessly deploys at the edge, the central cloud, and the APIs must be in place.

Moving on

According to market forecasts, the global IoT cloud platform market size is set to grow from $6.4 billion in 2020 to $11.5 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.6% during the forecast period. The drivers for the growth of the IoT cloud platform market include the proliferation of IoT devices, the need to increase operational efficiency, rapidly decreasing costs of IoT-based sensors connectivity hardware, and government initiatives for Research and Development (R&D) activities related to IoT, the emergence of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), and the shift from on-premises to cloud-based data management strategy.

Telcos need to collaborate with public cloud players to offer customers support through the various stages of platform assessment, design and deployment, and migration to build an end-to-end IoT cloud solution and develop joint go-to-market activities for 5G networks.

From smart factories to smart buildings to smart cities, telcos are well placed to help organizations use the combination of IoT cloud services to help digitize people, places, and things to visualize, simulate, and analyze new business processes.

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