What to look for in an IoT device management platform

how to choose iot platform

According to Statista, IoT devices are predicted to triple to 29 billion devices worldwide by 2030. Given this, it’s no surprise that there are many startups and large companies eager to offer solutions to help manage all these devices.

But when it comes to choosing the right solution to manage your growing device fleet, there are a few key factors to keep in mind. Onboarding the wrong tool could result in wasted resources, and cause setbacks that are challenging to recover from. To help make your decision a little easier, here are a few things to look for when considering IoT device management platforms.

12 things to look for in an IoT device management platform

1. Remote access

Being able to access and troubleshoot devices remotely is crucial to scaling fleet deployments. An IoT management platform should help you organize your device fleet and make it easy to securely connect and access remote devices anywhere in the world in just a few seconds. Remote access should use proven and established security strategies like reverse SSH tunneling to safely discover and access remote devices, even when their IP addresses aren’t publicly available (e.g. behind a firewall).

2. Update management capabilities

Regular software updates are common to fleet devices. An IoT management platform should provide tools for safely, reliably, and securely updating fleet devices, individually or en masse. The tools should be flexible and able to deliver files, run commands, scripts, artifacts, release bundles, and popular containers such as Docker. Ideally, they should be able to update automatically. Automation is the only way to scale.

3. Automated rollbacks

Nothing is perfect and some device updates may hit a snag. If a device update fails, the update process provided by the platform should roll back the update to its previous state to avoid downtimes. Further, the platform should offer a comprehensive dashboard view that can issue an alert and clearly display any failed updates so they can be addressed accordingly.

4. Light and unobtrusive

To manage an IoT device, a client application agent is typically installed on each device. Given the resource constraints typical of IoT devices, you should consider the size of the agent installation and how much RAM it’ll use at runtime. The ability to embed the agent into a custom device image and burn it on to an SD card or eMMC flash will help scale operations for mass distributions. As each device boots up and connects online, the agent should automatically and securely register with the IoT management platform, ready to operate.

5. Any Linux

Linux is one of the most popular operating systems used for IoT devices and IoT gateways. Having to rely on a specific version or proprietary version of Linux will naturally limit your choices and‌ potentially lock you into a specific software and hardware platform. To best take advantage of open source standards, an IoT management platform should be able to support your choice of commonly used Linux distributions such as Raspbian, Ubuntu, Debian, Yocto, etc.

6. Visualize, organize and automate to scale

An IoT management platform should provide a holistic dashboard for a comprehensive overview of your entire fleet. It should also offer tools for grouping and arranging devices according to your specific requirements, along with the capability to apply automated bulk updates to a group of devices, which could potentially include thousands of devices, all at once.

7. Automate monitoring and alerts

When managing hundreds or thousands of devices, automation is the only way to keep up. Monitoring should include device health parameters including CPU, RAM, disk usage, and the status of specified applications. You should be able to set device thresholds that automatically trigger alerts when specified thresholds are exceeded, and be automatically notified through your chosen channels, such as email, texts, or Slack.

8. Predictable spending

The cost of managing a fleet is an important component of the platform purchase decision. That means the platform’s pricing structure should be readily predictable with no surprise expenses. Some platforms charge users per action to devices, such as remote access or simple updates. Predicting how often one needs to remotely access and troubleshoot devices, send updates, deliver commands, etc. isn’t easy to predict. Look for pricing models that charge by the number of devices being managed. That’s simple, predictable, and something you can control.

9. Cloud agnostic

Cloud computing is well established as an effective way to host platform applications. Platforms that are cloud agnostic don’t have a cloud agenda and are therefore incentivized to work with whatever solutions the client prefers to use, regardless of the cloud or whether it’s on premises.

10. Shift-left for security

As IoT development becomes more mainstream, it’s crucial to incorporate security as part of the development process. For instance, JFrog Connect is integrated with JFrog Xray, which provides built-in scanning for software vulnerabilities and compliance during development, ensuring security is prioritized prior to deployment.

11. DevOps best practices built-in

As IoT projects mature and reach a cadence of software releases, building in DevOps best practices will help increase the speed, quality and reliability of those releases. For example, JFrog Connect is integrated with JFrog Artifactory, an established universal artifact management solution. This type of integration enables you to manage all your packages, containers, and build artifacts in a universal binary repository manager and seamlessly deploy them to your edge and IoT devices.

12. Platform privacy and security

Data privacy, data security, and cloud security should always be part of consideration for any platform that manages business and customer information. There are many industry standards that can help you decide. At JFrog, establishing trust in our platforms is a top priority.

How to choose an IoT management solution

As the IoT market matures and natural selection takes effect, a few vendors will stand out. We hope this article has been helpful in your path to finding the right IoT management solution for your organization.

Many modern businesses with scaling IoT initiatives choose JFrog Connect for its best-in-class IoT management, end-to-end, from development to device deployment. You can try Connect for free, anytime.

JFrog Connect is a modern Linux-first IoT platform designed to efficiently update, control and monitor edge and IoT devices at scale.