Top 5 IoT Connectivity Platforms in 2023: An Express Guide
With an increase in the number of IoT devices that can communicate with each other seamlessly, businesses are presented with unique opportunities to gather valuable data that can help them make informed decisions to improve their bottom line.
As a result, businesses strive to create the perfect IoT connectivity platform by incorporating significant innovations into the mix. However, this process is still a challenging one.
There are many reasons for this, including:
- A fragmented IoT ecosystem.
- Use of different communication protocols across devices
- Lack of Standardization in the IoT Industry
Moreover, having a diverse range of IoT devices means that they may have different capabilities, power consumption, and connectivity options, adding to the challenge of creating a unified platform.
No matter the industry or the nature of an IoT product, you cannot have a customized or innovative solution without having the proper foundation to build on. Connectivity, is therefore, one of the key aspects of any IoT architecture. Even the most basic connected architecture will have the following layers:
There are several connectivity protocols which make it possible for devices to connect with each other or the cloud, such as WiFi, GSM, Bluetooth, ZigBee, etc.
Understanding the Concept of IoT Connectivity
Connectivity platforms, by definition, are solutions that help maintain connectivity within devices. However, buzzwords and internet jargon have somewhat muddled the entire concept and you would find that many sources confuse IoT platforms as connectivity platforms. When we talk specifically about IoT connectivity platforms, we're focusing on the solutions that primarily deal with managing and maintaining the connectivity of IoT devices.
While several IoT platforms like Azure IoT, AWS IoT Core, etc., do provide connectivity services (and we will talk more about these in the later sections), there are also other solutions that are more specifically focused on connectivity. These facilitate the connection of IoT devices to the internet and manage the communication between them.
IoT connectivity protocols
Let us take a look at various connectivity protocols used in IoT:
Sigfox: Sigfox is a global communication service provider for the Internet of Things, offering a unique combination of ultra-low-cost and ultra-low-power technologies for wide-area network (WAN) connectivity. Sigfox's technology is ideal for applications where the cost or power consumption needs to be minimal, and the data transmission rates are low. It uses a unique technology based on Ultra Narrow Band (UNB) radio modulation, allowing simple, low-energy consumption communications over long distances.
NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT): NB-IoT is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard that has been developed to enable a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular telecommunications bands. It is a narrowband radio technology designed for the IoT, which focuses on indoor coverage, low cost, long battery life, and enabling a large number of connected devices.
LoRa (Long Range): LoRa is another popular LPWAN protocol designed for wireless battery-operated devices in a regional, national, or global network. LoRaWAN is the network protocol on which LoRa operates; it provides long-range connectivity with low power consumption, making it suitable for various IoT applications. Its main advantage is its flexibility; it can be deployed in both public and private networks and can coexist with other IoT technologies.
Zigbee: Zigbee is a high-level communication protocol used to create personal area networks with small, low-power digital radios. It is simpler and less expensive than other PANs such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Zigbee devices are often used in mesh network form to communicate with each other, and it's especially popular for home automation systems.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: While they're not specialized IoT connectivity protocols, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are common and have been adapted for IoT use. Wi-Fi offers high data rates and range, making it suitable for applications that need to transmit large amounts of data. Bluetooth, especially the low-energy version known as BLE, is ideal for short-range, low-power, low-cost applications, and it's widely used in wearable devices.
Cellular Networks/GSM: Cellular networks, including 2G (GSM), 3G, 4G, and the latest 5G, are widely used for IoT connectivity due to their extensive coverage and reliability. Cellular IoT can support a wide range of applications, from low data rates (such as remote sensors) to high data rates (like video streaming), based on the network generation in use.
For example, 2G (GSM) has been used for many early IoT applications due to its wide coverage. However, it's gradually being phased out in favor of more advanced networks.
4G networks, and particularly the category NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT), are designed to support IoT devices. They offer lower power consumption and deeper coverage compared to standard 4G, making them suitable for simple, low-data IoT applications.
5G, the latest generation, has the potential to revolutionize IoT with its high data rates, low latency, and capacity to connect a massive number of devices simultaneously. It's ideal for applications requiring real-time responses or substantial data transfer, such as autonomous vehicles or smart cities.
Overall, cellular networks provide a versatile and reliable option for IoT connectivity. However, they also typically involve ongoing data costs, which need to be taken into account when choosing a connectivity option. But it is also important to monitor your devices when connected to cellular networks. Which is what most connectivity solutions offer.
Each of these IoT connectivity protocols has its strengths and is well-suited for certain types of applications, depending on the specific needs such as power consumption, range, data rate, cost, and network topology.
The need for monitoring connectivity in devices
Monitoring connectivity in devices connected to cellular networks is critical for a variety of reasons:
- Network Reliability: Ensuring reliable and consistent connectivity is crucial for the overall operation of IoT systems. Any downtime or connectivity issues can disrupt the functioning of IoT applications, leading to potential losses in productivity or service quality.
- Data Accuracy: Without consistent and reliable connectivity, the accuracy of data transmitted from IoT devices could be compromised. This can lead to incorrect decision-making based on inaccurate data.
- Device Health: Connectivity monitoring can help identify if there are any issues with the devices themselves. For example, if a device consistently struggles to maintain a stable connection, it could indicate a hardware or software problem with the device.
- Security: Regular monitoring can help identify potential security threats. Unusual connectivity patterns could indicate a cyber-attack or hacking attempt on the device or the network.
- Optimization: By monitoring connectivity, businesses can gather data about network performance and use this to optimize the system. For example, they might identify that certain devices use more data than necessary, or that the network is more congested at certain times.
- Cost Management: For devices connected via cellular networks, data usage directly translates into costs. Monitoring these connections helps manage and control these costs, ensuring data is being used efficiently.
- Troubleshooting: When issues arise, having monitored connectivity data can help diagnose and resolve problems faster. By knowing exactly when and where the connection was lost, IT teams can more quickly identify the root cause and solution.
In essence, monitoring connectivity in devices connected to cellular networks helps maintain the performance, security, and reliability of IoT systems, and provides valuable insights for troubleshooting and optimization.
Top 5 IoT Connectivity Management Platforms in 2023
As we discussed earlier, there are several holistic IoT platforms which help you manage connectivity while offering several other features as well. If you want a platform that helps you unify all the requirements for your IoT devices, these are the Top 5 IoT connectivity management platforms that you can take a look at.
If you want an IoT platform that allows you to build customized solutions on top of it, and help you connect, manage, and monitor all your IoT devices effortlessly, then Bytebeam is the ideal platform for you.
It has an array of robust core features and capabilities that are well-suited for businesses of all sizes and help them unlock the full potential of their IoT devices.
Bytebeam enables you to connect, collect, analyze, and act on data from IoT devices and supports multiple connectivity options, edge computing, and cloud integration.
Some of the crucial core features of Bytebeam include the following:
- Compatible With Connectivity Protocols: Bytebeam supports various connectivity protocols, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, LoRaWAN, and cellular networks, thus enabling seamless communication between different smart devices.
- Device Management: With Bytebeam, you get a comprehensive device management system that enables you to monitor and manage devices remotely, perform firmware updates, and set alerts and notifications.
- Data Analytics: You get access to advanced analytics capabilities that allow users to visualize and analyze data collected from IoT devices. On top of that, Bytebeam also provides real-time data processing and predictive analytics, enabling businesses to make informed decisions.
- Third-Party Integrations: Bytebeam opens up endless possibilities with access to an array of third-party systems and services, including cloud platforms, enterprise software, and other IoT platforms like Azure, AWS, and more. This makes it easier to connect and share data between different systems.
- Robust Security: While it is possible to integrate other IoT security platforms with Bytebeam, the platform itself has basic security features, including end-to-end encryption, user authentication, and access control.
- Scalability: Bytebeam is a capable and scalable platform that has the potential to support thousands of devices and data points, making it ideal for businesses of all sizes.
- Customization: You can customize the Bytebeam platform to meet your business needs. Some common customizations include creating custom dashboards, reports, and analytics tools.
In a nutshell, Bytebeam IoT Platform is a comprehensive solution for businesses looking to leverage the power of IoT technology with an opportunity to scale as and when needed.
2. Microsoft Azure IoT Hub
With Microsoft Azure IoT Hub, you can connect, monitor, and manage Internet of Things (IoT) devices at scale. It also is a secure and reliable way to collect, process, and analyze data from IoT devices in real-time.
Some of the most common features of Microsoft Azure IoT Hub include the following:
- Secure Connectivity: Azure IoT Hub provides secure connectivity for IoT devices with authentication, data encryption, and access control. It integrates with Azure Active Directory for comprehensive security.
- Protocol Support: It supports multiple IoT devices and protocols, including MQTT, HTTP, and AMQP, for easy connectivity and management.
- Real-time Data Processing: You can access real-time data processing capabilities, integrate with Azure services like Stream Analytics and Functions, and provide flexible data processing solutions.
- Integration with Other Azure Services: It seamlessly integrates with Azure services like Event Grid, Time Series Insights, and Machine Learning to easily deploy IoT solutions.
- Scalability: It is designed to handle massive amounts of data and devices, making it easy for enterprises to scale their IoT solutions.
3. Cisco IoT
Cisco's IoT Cloud Connect is a cloud-based software suite originally designed for mobile operators. However, it has emerged as a popular name for industrial and individual use cases in the Internet of Things (IoT) world. It offers reliable IoT hardware, including routers, gateways, switches, and access points.
Some of the core features of Cisco IoT include the following:
- Control Center to Manage Connectivity: It is useful when discussing cellular connectivity management and enables integrating all IoT devices into one SaaS solution.
- Extended Enterprise Solution: This enables the development of IoT business applications at the edge, offering rapid deployment and centralized network management.
- Simplified Data Processing: Cisco’s Edge Intelligence simplifies data processing by allocating data flows to local or multi-cloud environments.
- Industrial Asset Vision: This feature utilizes sensors to monitor assets and continuously deliver data for better decision-making.
- Threat Defense: With this feature, you get secure remote access, segmentation, visibility and analysis, and other security services to protect sensitive data and devices against cyberattacks.
The core features of Cisco IoT Cloud Connect include robust industrial solutions, high-level security, edge computing, and centralized connectivity and data management.
They include connected cars, fleet management, home security and automation, payment, point-of-sale (POS) solutions, predictive maintenance, industrial networking, smart meters, and healthcare.
4. Salesforce IoT
Salesforce specializes in customer relationship management and leverages IoT solutions to enhance this segment and provide personalized experiences for customers.
The Salesforce IoT Cloud platform collects valuable data from connected devices to help build stronger relationships with customers. It works seamlessly with Salesforce CRM, where data from connected assets is delivered directly to initiate context-based actions.
The core features of Salesforce IoT Cloud include the following:
- Managing Connectivity: If the sensors detect a problem in a connected IoT device, the platform’s system can automatically adjust parameters or create a service ticket and reflect the same in the CRM dashboard immediately.
- Integration: It offers full integration between the CRM, customers, and products
- Easy to Use: It comes with a simple point-and-click UI that requires no programming skills to create rules, conditions, and events.
- Compatibility: The Salesforce IoT platform is compatible with various third-party websites, services, and products that can enhance customer experience.
- Data Analytics: It collects data and shares it with the users in a structured way, allowing them to establish a proactive approach to customer issues and needs.
While Salesforce CRM is used extensively across different industries, the core use cases for Salesforce IoT Cloud include government administration, machinery, marketing and advertising, financial services, and chemicals. By utilizing Salesforce IoT Cloud, businesses can gain a holistic view of customer data, improve customer experience, and boost sales.
5. Oracle IoT Platform
Oracle IoT Platform is a cloud-based platform that provides secure and scalable connectivity for IoT devices. It supports various devices and protocols and offers device management, real-time data processing, and integration with other Oracle services.
Some of the core features of the Oracle IoT platform include:
Secure Connectivity: The platform provides secure connectivity for IoT devices, including device authentication, data encryption, and access control.
- Device Management: It enables easy management of IoT devices at scale, with features such as device registration, configuration, monitoring, and over-the-air updates.
- Connectivity Protocols: It supports HTTPS and MQTT over SSL, allowing for easy connectivity and management of different types of devices.
- Real-time Data Processing: The platform provides real-time data processing capabilities, enabling faster decision-making and better insights into operations.
Most Important Things to Consider When Choosing an IoT Platform
There are many factors to consider when choosing an IoT Platform. However, there are some crucial ones that you cannot miss out on. Let’s take a look at them.
- Cellular Connectivity: Various platforms allow businesses to manage data plans and connectivity for devices that use cellular connectivity. Connectivity platforms offer services similar to Telcos when it comes to connectivity, and they can help businesses streamline their IoT operations and ensure their devices remain connected and secure.
- Range of connectivity protocols: It should support a wide range of connectivity protocols, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, LoRaWAN, and cellular networks. It should also comply with major IoT protocols, such as Matter(formerly known as CHIP), which enables interoperability between different smart home devices.
- Compatibility with devices: It should be compatible with a variety of devices, sensors, and gateways, including those from different manufacturers, while also supporting multiple operating systems, such as iOS and Android.
- Security features: There are dedicated IoT security platforms, but an IoT platform on its own should have basic security features like end-to-end encryption, secure data storage, and access control to combat data breaches.
- Scalability: You need to invest in a platform that can allow you to scale when the business demands. It should be able to handle large volumes of data and support real-time processing.
- Cost-effective: You need to have a platform that offers value for money; it should have a transparent pricing model that allows you to pay only for what you need.
By evaluating these criteria, you can select a platform that meets your business needs and helps you achieve your IoT goals.
Considering the ongoing trends, we can say that IoT connectivity platforms will become more standardized, interoperable, and capable of supporting more devices and protocols.
Edge computing and AI will play an active role in developing IoT platforms, enabling faster real-time processing and decision-making. The demand for privacy and security will continue to drive the development of advanced security features. IoT platforms will become more user-friendly while offering easier customization and configuration.
Therefore, finding the ideal IoT platform for your business is not as straightforward as some might think. Moreover, it is challenging, as IoT platforms have no one-size-fits-all solution.
So, the best way to determine which platform fits your business is to list your unique business requirements and move forward.
While most large enterprises turn towards established giants such as Amazon or Microsoft, they are not guaranteed to get the best platform for the premium prices they pay.
Based on the points discussed in this post, Bytebeam offers the perfect balance of platform capability to features and pricing.
It supports multiple connectivity protocols, devices, and operating systems, provides robust security features, is scalable, cost-effective, and flexible, and has analytics and reporting tools.
Want to learn more about how Bytebeam can transform the current state of your IoT devices and improve security and connectivity? Schedule a demo with our experts today and move a step closer to a robust and customizable IoT platform.