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January 21, 2021

4 Steps to Build & Operate IoT Solution in Edge Cloud

Let's start with a primer on edge cloud. Edge cloud is the extension of cloud capabilities closer to the physical systems generating data. To understand why it is important, let's look at a few data points. 50 billion connected IoT devices generating 80 ZB data daily will be a reality in a few years. The round trip cloud latency will be at best one fourth of a second given the overwhelming number of variables affecting latency. IoT is already responsible for one third of cyber threats worldwide.  The data points surface four fundamental concerns in IoT landscape -

  • How can I keep my mission critical operations not impacted by latency variation?
  • How can I take out bandwidth cost?
  • How much autonomy will I have on my devices and data?
  • How can I keep my environment secured when it is tethered to the cloud?

Building and operating IoT solution leveraging edge cloud is the answer for all of them. Four steps to build and operate IoT in the edge cloud are - Create Edge Governance for IoT, Select Edge Location for IoT, Build Edge Centric IoT Architecture and Transform existing operations to IoT Edge Operations. They are intertwined and influence each other.

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Step 1: Create Edge Governance for IoT: It is the most critical factor as it ties together multiple thread around security, devices and data. Edge cloud is a mesh of different types of device, network and protocol. A comprehensive security policy covering all aspects of device and data is the most important part. Device governance with policies for device management and device onboarding is the bedrock for managing agile edge software lifecycle. Data governance plays a central role from compliance perspective. 

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Step 2: Select Edge Location for IoT: Edge cloud is topology driven. The strategy should aim to have right data at right place at right time. Edge location has many names to it such as near edge, far edge, network edge, enterprise edge etc. However, all boil down to the IoT use case characterization that decides the best fit hosting location in a distributed way. 

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Step 3: Build Edge Centric IoT Architecture: It is driven by strategic alignment towards choice of infrastructure and choice of technology. Infrastructure is available at various sizes from micro to macro level. Technology must be aligned with key considerations such as edge-native approach. Edge solution is primarily built upon the interaction among business, things and people. The design must include the people experience and business experience as well..

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Step 4: Transform to IoT Edge Operations: Operations at edge is a challenging task when it comes down to DevOps, observability, reliability, security and scaling. Edge devops needs to handle complexities arising from different capability sets of devices in the fleet and aligning them into a holistic continuous integration pipeline. Siloed observability for each edge component can be consolidated by channeling monitoring telemetry to cloud. Edge needs horizontal scaling. A repeatable recipe for new devices, new sites is important.

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An edge cloud solution must be built on a resilient foundation layer touching upon all the above aspects. This foundation layer helps in quickly realizing the business values envisioned by the IoT strategy without worrying about the concerns of latency, bandwidth, security and autonomy.

January 8, 2021

Get ready for test driving your connected vehicle - Part 2

In the first part of the blog we discussed about how vehicle drive testing is becoming an integral part of current automobile industry. Let us now talk about various model of drive testing,

The traditional vehicle major model may take anywhere from 2-4 years from inception to launch. There are various important stages before the vehicle is set on the assembly line for mass manufacturing. The drive tests are amongst the longest-running test phase conducted at various developmental stages. Various OEM incorporates different strategies for their drive test, but in general, there are two primary modes of drive testing connected services. The first one incorporates testing the system for end-user scenarios multiple times, in various geographical, GPS, and network conditions with several functional arbitration paths. For instance, what would happen while a navigational route is being generated (online) in a low (2G) bandwidth area, and a phone call comes through, or, subscription (e.g. Spotify) gets expired with the change of the midnight clock, while it is still being used during the drive, or take the instance of how much of the data can be cached on the vehicle system before service degradation has to gracefully stop the application, without distracting the driver and ensuring a safe operation. There are numerous other scenarios related to functional, performance, security, operational, 3rd party/Tier-2 dependent services, government safety regulations, etc. that get planned, executed, re-executed, and endurance tested by multiple teams of qualified test teams backed by developers in real-time. The tests are conducted in multiple stages. The short drive test with around 100-150 miles of driving per day, with each day having a specific functional area being tested, and long drive tests with a team of 4-5 test engineer and qualified drivers (special licensing requirements for driving prototypes in several countries) and support vehicles for 5-20 days with cross country travels testing all aspects of the infotainment/connected systems. The systems are logged and observed through various, embedded, IoT, DevOps, and monitoring tools, corrective actions are taken, and scenarios retried over serval cycles.

The second mode of testing happen generally on the early production trial vehicles by real users (supported by dealerships, the member of the select trial groups and company members). By this time, it is expected that all the major issues and specification related problems have been fixed and the connected vehicle systems meet or exceed the functional and non-functional requirements. The users continue to use the applications and services while using the vehicles and provide continuous feedback and their experience. Some feedback and issues get their place in the final product releases and some are tabled for future releases.

The strategy for the drive testing could be numerous, but the expected outcome for the end customer is the same- a safe, personalized, and lasting vehicle experience ensuing a forever brand loyalty. The auto industry is seeing a tremendous shift and the future looks exciting. The concept of vehicle ownership, mobility, and personalized vehicle experience is disrupting the traditional models. Drive tests would continue to become more important than ever before.

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