Amazon engineering VP says partnerships, scale and security key to successful IoT pathway
AWS’s IoT head Yasser Alsaied gave advice to enterprises seeking a cloud-based path for IoT transformation during his keynote last week at Internet of Things Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC) in Barcelona.
The technology head – also vice president of engineering at the cloud provider’s parent firm Amazon – advised firms to focus on their customer’s needs and their own core offerings; to form partnerships within AWS’s ecosystem for the parts they remained unfamiliar with and to ensure that security was their “number one priority”.
Alsaied mentioned a handful of AWS customers and IoT adoption cases – including nutrition outfit Yara, which is using IoT to measure its carbon footprint; Escalator firm Kone – which wants to move into smart city provision and build its capability from the cloud and Teva, a pharma company producing IoT connective inhalers for health monitoring.
Another customer is Amazon itself including its 200 robotics facilities, it’s 500,000 robotic driving units as well as the hundreds of millions of units of Alexa that are currently in operation.
In each customer case, Alsaied added, these differing verticals all had similar desires and pain points when it came to IoT adoption.
“Customers want to focus on driving value, they want to achieve a better yield; they want flexibility and the option to scale, and they want security. Security is very important because if it’s not secure – it’s not working,” he said.
Alsaied added that AWS made security a “job zero” priority, with teams that work on nothing else but lines of defence, However, he added that it was a challenge when the cloud service provider was dealing with thousands of devices with a five-year battery life that are effectively “operating on their own and gathering data”.
He added: “We need to be always ready with security that can handle these devices for years. You need a system that can handle updates and security patches and you want the backend to be able to update upgrade with new features,” he said.
He added that security needed to be balanced and managed with a multitude of suppliers – and a willingness to open to a wider IoT ecosystem was essential.
Many of these players, it should be added, now form part of AWS’s Partnership Network and these range from hardware and silicon manufacturers through to software vendors, systems integrators, gateway vendors and connectivity providers.
“Partners very important in the deployment of IoT because then you have people who know the systems already and they know who to talk to,” he said.
“You want to start with the chip set all the way up to the connectivity provider – because if there’s no connectivity there’s no IoT. Each player has a percentage of the value chain and all of that will provide you with a complete solution,” he added.
Talking to the device manufacturers was also important to ensure the right kind of OS security was being provided, and in general, just to make thing easier, Alsaied emphasized.
“No one ever goes to Taiwan or China to talk to the manufacturers where most of these devices are made. But if you want the tech to be in those devices and for it to be made easier – then you need to work together.”
The technology VP said that collaboration between some of its customers and an unnamed Asian-based manufacturer resulted in 20 times more usage of IoT devices within one year.
He added that AWS was also on hand to help customers with scalability, utilising over 200 services including 13 or so different open solutions which have been purpose built for IoT. These include AWS IoT Twin Maker, which claims to enable fast Digital Twin creation using a 3D capture camera to gather sensor data
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