Helping Telecoms and NSPs securely and effectively manage their IoT Devices with Mbed Cloud On Premises

Many businesses are eager to connect their equipment to IoT so they can leverage the data those connected devices generate to improve their products and services. Most businesses look to cloud-based solutions for managing their IoT-connected equipment, but some will require any device management solution they use to physically reside on premises.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Miller Chang, president of Embedded IoT at Advantech, about two specific industries that require on-premises device management: Network Service Providers (NSPs) and telecommunications companies.

Many telecom companies require on-premise management of their IoT deployment.

Advantech is a long-time Arm partner known for providing the systems integration expertise, customer-centric design services, embedded systems, automation products, and global logistics support that allow customers in a variety of industries to connect to the IoT.

Founded in 1983, Advantech is a leader in providing trusted, innovative embedded and automation products and solutions. Advantech offers customers a series of Mbed-ready integrated IoT solutions from Arm-based box computers, wireless IoT sensor nodes, gateways, wireless modules, cloud platforms and services that allow customers to enable and build their IoT applications.

Hima Mukkamala (HM): What do you see as main reasons on why NSPs and telecommunications customers are demanding support for on-premises device management?

Miller Chang (MC): In our experience, the main reasons behind NSPs or telecommunications customers’ demand for an on-premises IoT device management solutions are data security, regulatory requirements, cost savings, and more freedom to customize and control legacy hardware infrastructure.

For obvious reasons, data security is one of the major reasons why telecom providers are worried about connecting their equipment to the IoT. Customers trust their service providers with their personal data, so any potential exposure of that data to unauthorized access must be minimized. By keeping their IoT device management solution behind the corporate firewall and in a physical location they control access to, they can minimize the potential for their customer data to be compromised.

Additionally, as regulatory bodies become more aware of cybersecurity risks, many are now using government regulations to make sure certain industries are doing everything they can to protect customers’ data. This need for heightened insight into their network’s security posture and more granular control over security settings means that some companies, like telecoms and NSPs, will require on-premises device management capabilities to make sure they’re complying with regulatory requirements.

We’ve also discovered that for customers with very high volumes of data traffic, like telecom service providers, it’s often less expensive to license an on-premises solution than it is to pay monthly or yearly services fees tied to the volume of data traffic a cloud-based device management solution would generate. Also, many telecom companies have already made significant investments in hardware, servers, and infrastructure. Mbed Cloud On Premises would allow them to continue using their existing network investment to support on-premises device management.

And finally, for customers that require their IoT solutions to be highly customized to work with existing IT infrastructure, on-premises solutions can provide a higher level of design flexibility and more enhanced control when working with legacy hardware solutions.

HM: This week at Mobile World Congress, Arm announced its new Mbed Cloud On Premises solution. Why are Advantech’s telecom and NSP customers interested in it?

MC: In addition to the concerns I mentioned earlier, NSPs and telecoms that manage and operate their networks have traditionally done so via centralized, on-premises solutions that are often homegrown. This makes it difficult for them to use off-the-shelf, cloud-based device management services, because such solutions aren’t likely to provide the flexibility and customization options required. Mbed Cloud On Premises is the ideal IoT device management platform for customers looking to connect their existing network infrastructure to the IoT in a way that’s customizable, secure, and cost efficient.

HM: Why do you think the addition of on-premises support to Mbed Cloud is a good thing?

MC: The constantly increasing number of connected devices and the evolution of connectivity technologies make IoT device management imperative for companies that provide IoT solutions and services. Mbed Cloud is a ready-to-use, robust, secure and scalable IoT device management platform that helps companies address issues such as end-to-end security, device provisioning and connection, and remote device updates. By adding support for on-premises device management, Mbed Cloud is now an option for customers, like NSPs and telecoms, that need more control over their IoT implementations than what’s currently offered by cloud-based IoT device management solutions

HM: You are working with some major telecom companies in Europe and APAC to deploy Mbed Cloud On Premises. Can you provide some specifics on how those customers are using the solution?

MC: We’re seeing two types of use cases in the telecom and NSP industries. First, we see them using Mbed Cloud On Premises for their own IoT deployments.

Second, they’re using Mbed Cloud On Premises to offer their customers end-to-end IoT solutions including device and IoT application support. To offer these new services in a way that meets the needs of many different customers, telecoms and NSPs are deploying IoT networks using multiple Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies (NB-IoT, LoRa, and Cat M1, for example) in addition to more traditional connectivity solutions like 3G/LTE, Wi-Fi and Ethernet. These LPWAN technologies operate at a lower cost with greater power efficiency than traditional mobile networks. They are also able to support a greater number of connected devices over a larger area.

HM: What vertical markets or applications does Advantech see using Mbed Cloud On Premises?

MC: We’re seeing interest from customers in medical, finance and other large enterprise-type verticals that require the heightened security of an on-premises device management solution.

Arm will be sharing to the Mbed platform at Mobile World Congress and Embedded World this week.

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