Two years ago in London, I had an enlightening conversation with a solution architect who worked for one of the major cloud vendors. Let’s call him Simon. Simon and I were talking about the insane proliferation of IoT vendors - a number that has exploded to more than 1,200 according to research firm IoT Analytics (June 2021). In a similar report at the end of 2019, IoT Analytics emphasized that the number of vendors in the IoT industry is not consolidating - rather, it’s expanding.
The expansion is clearly due to all the hot air in the IoT segment. Lots of hot air.
Back to London - Simon and I were dismayed at the number of companies pedaling “device clouds” and “all in one IoT platforms”. He made an interesting comment that stuck with me for its genuineness and wisdom. Simon opined that connected product companies should only choose one of three vendors for their device data - AWS, Azure or GCP. He said he didn’t mind losing deals to one of the other big 3 cloud providers - but not to one of the niche IoT, AI or ML companies that store your data while applying their unique business logic magic. What confounded both of us was the fact that some of the vendors actually charged a premium to extract your own data from their cloud platform. This is really the byproduct of the IoT siloes that still dominate much of the noise in this market.
So here’s my advice the next time you see a cheesy sales rep knocking on your door with the salvation of their all-in-one IoT cloud platform - run. There is another way.
Let me tell you why.
In a conversation with a soon-to-be customer, Rhonda, she explained that when her company first decided to build a connected widget, they had no choice but to work with an all-in-one IoT platform vendor. Today, however, they have more clarity on the IP they need to own (device, application, analytics). To their credit, many of the early platform vendors solved the problem by providing the “Easy Button” to manage devices, consume device data, store it, visualize it and act upon it. Unfortunately, many accomplish this with siloes which not only are limited in scale, but reinforce the wrong architecture and business models.
From a data perspective, we designed our DeviceOps offering with the notion that we would primarily be a data management and orchestration service, not a device data repository. Sometimes storing data for visualization and analytics is necessary. But our fundamental architecture is all about letting customers control their own data destiny. It is their data, not ours, and they should be able to federate and store it anywhere they want.
When designing your connected product solution and choosing your partners, begin with the premise that it’s your data, you own it, you should control it and not pay a premium for that. Make one of the big 3 your ultimate data storage partner. Between the device and the cloud find partners that bring great value in the management and orchestration planes.
The cloud is good. Just make sure it’s your cloud and you control the services you use in it.
Our Connected World is a new creation of (hopefully) relevant, insightful and perhaps funny content that I share weekly (fingers-crossed). It is written for anyone interested in the Connected Product Economy. I always welcome feedback and an opportunity to engage. Write anytime to firstname.lastname@example.org. And please forward this to anyone you think may be interested.