Streamlining IoT Device Provisioning

With elegant solutions, companies can overcome challenges to scalability, enabling billions of devices to enter the field.
By Phil Dawsey
Feb 01, 2018

At this point, we've heard over and over about how big the Internet of Things (IoT) will be. Intel estimates that up to 200 billion devices will be connected by 2020. That's a lot of things we need to connect.

Many of these devices will be in an enterprise setting, with McKinsey estimating 70 percent of value to be captured by business-to-business applications like monitoring a gas pipeline, tracking building energy use or measuring soil moisture on a farm—not the cool smart-home gadgets like thermostats and refrigerators.

To reach these heady forecasts, there are a variety of challenges to overcome, one of which is how to provision all these new devices and bring them online. The process of provisioning involves getting each device configured to send data to the right place and authenticate it on the network. This establishes a trusted identity for each device, be it a laptop, a database, a tiny sensor or any other data-producing or -receiving node.

Provisioning is difficult and time-consuming at large-scale. We can all agree that typing in security tokens, configuring connectivity and installing firmware for tens of thousands of sensors on farms owned by a commercial grower would cost a lot and take a long time. Let's look at how devices are configured and brought online now, and how we might be able to simplify and speed up this process in the future.

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