From Telit: "5 Questions You Need to Ask Before Working with a Low-Cost IoT Module Vendor"
As gains within the Internet of Technology (IoT) industry expand into every facet of our lives, touching telematics, energy, healthcare, supply chain management and beyond – certain fears arise about the security of cloud-based technology, especially for the developers of IoT devices. Risks involving the quality, reliability, and security of competing IoT modules provide challenges to those looking to integrate the technology into their businesses and industries. Module manufacturers themselves are also subject to scrutiny; in fact, previous breaches in data security have led to certain Chinese global telecom providers being banned in the U.S. due to the threat of backdoor eavesdropping for industrial espionage purposes.
With a rapid rise in IoT providers and integrated services – and especially in low-cost IoT module vendors – corporate decision-makers need to ask the right questions to make sure they’re setting their IoT devices and processes up for long-term success. The reality is that cheaper IoT solutions save funds at the outset, but often come at a significant long-term expense.
The Future of IoT – Not All Modules are Created Equal
In an effort to assuage fears of cybersecurity breaches and instability with global IoT modules, it’s important to be choosy about your IoT module provider. How do you find a reliable, secure, and responsible vendor with an IoT module that keeps your project lifecycle ROI in mind – not just the ROI of the module purchase cost?
When searching for the right IoT solution with the least amount of risk, these are the most essential questions you should be asking your potential low-cost IoT module vendors:
Q1: Is your IoT module supplier transparent about their business and services?
By purchasing an IoT module, you’re making an investment into your business’s future success. It is important that you know everything about the supplier from which you are purchasing the module. When you know more about the company that is providing you your IoT module, it gives insight into the quality of the product and the support you will receive.
Publicly traded companies provide accurate and audited information for relevant aspects of their business. When looking at private companies, the same level of transparency should be provided to you. If a company is reluctant to disclose comparable information because they are private, it should raise serious doubts.
Q2: Is your low-cost IoT module communicating ONLY with your business systems or is it potentially being subsidized to eavesdrop for competitors?
Due to the connected nature of the internet and devices, security should always be a primary concern for any business that uses these systems. However, security is more difficult to ensure when the supplier you are purchasing from purposefully allows for the ability to insert spyware.
According to an article from the Verge, this very issue recently reared its ugly head when the Chinese telecom giant, Huawei, was banned from activating phones on AT&T and Verizon after a wide range of espionage claims stemming from their communications networks broke. Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg news reported that agencies and lawmakers fear that Huawei’s phones, which feature next-generation 5G technology pose a major security risk because Huawei is in competition with mobile network infrastructure vendors used by U.S. carriers.
Huawei isn’t alone, hidden backdoors that could leave users open to exploitation have been discovered in devices from other providers as well. If you are considering investing in an IoT module, make sure you can trust the supplier.
Q3: Are you guaranteed continuity of supply and support for the duration of your deployment’s planned lifecycle?
Long-term availability is critical because IoT modules are not commodity products. An unplanned interruption in the supply of your selected module would almost invariably translate into a redesign of your IoT-enabled device. And, unfortunately, a redesign could translate into business failure. Recertifications, halts in the supply chain, and better technologies are the death of many small businesses and start-ups.
Your module vendor should be required to show a guarantee of availability for the life of your device and/or business contract. A good business provider should be able to demonstrate how their IoT modules are designed to bring enhancements and updates to your device while maintaining backward compatibility in form factor and logical interfaces.
Furthermore, ownership of the intellectual property in key elements can make it possible for new generations of modules to retain all their predecessor’s attributes. This would eliminate the need for application redesigns and recertifications.
Q4: Is your low-cost IoT module provider truly global with far-reaching material operations?
Many overseas low-cost module providers only have a guise of a global network. In reality, many “global office networks” are nothing more than a series of skeletal home offices. Having production, assembly, and distribution offices that aren’t centralized ensures that each link in the chain is specialized for a specific duty.
Worldwide certifications are another requirement for global IoT operations. The more carrier certifications an IoT module vendor can provide, the better – especially in U.S. markets. A company with more approved modules has done their research and is poised to support a wider variety of IoT applications. A global vendor is one that seeks to expand their reach across emerging industries like smart buildings, smart transportation, smart energies, agriculture, and healthcare, where communication is dependent upon a global reach.
Q5: How well can your low-cost module vendor respond to a crisis in manufacturing, logistics, and supply?
Natural disasters can happen and disrupt the daily operations and supply chain keeping a business running smoothly. Global customers and global deployments demand strict adherence to reliability in their supply chain, as well as quality control across all manufacturing operations. If you source products from a company that operates everything from a single office, country and manufacturing facility, they cannot provide assurances that supply will be maintained in case of natural disasters, governmental issues, and other perils.
Cutting costs and sourcing the bulk of operations to a central location puts operations at risk. It’s imperative that your IoT vendor works with global partners to prevent shutdown in the event of a crisis.
Finding a High-Performance IoT Module Vendor – Banking on Telit
Telit, a pioneer in the IoT industry, offers cost optimized IoT modules built from over twenty years of experience. Telit modules offer secure communication across hardware and applications, conform to standards of continuity and innovation, and are poised for access and efficient operation across the globe. In addition, Telit is reliable in their efforts to expand and improve their services daily. Reach out today to get a free IoT project review and see how Telit modules will deliver higher ROI than vendors that shave costs and put your security in jeopardy.
Why partner with Symmetry Electronics? Symmetry's technical staff is specially trained by our suppliers to provide a comprehensive level of technical support. Our in-house Applications Engineers provide free design services to help customers early in the design cycle, providing solutions to save them time, money and frustration. Contact Symmetry for more information.