Internet of Things

Building an IoT Marketplace in the Cloud

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The rapid emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) has created a proliferation of players and mind-boggling assortment of deployment challenges. Although the piece-parts for assembling exciting IoT solutions have never been more economically feasible, fitting the right pieces together cost-effectively seems to be getting harder because there are so many of them.

A new generation of cloud-based marketplaces is seeking to overcome this obstacle. One example is Neo, which was recently launched by Aeris Communications Inc. to make it easier to obtain IoT solutions and the network connectivity necessary to deploy IoT services. Like many cloud marketplaces, Neo’s online architecture and user interface is modeled on the best consumer e-commerce sites such as Amazon and Zappos.

Making it easier to acquire and implement IoT solutions via an online marketplace isn’t a new idea. ThingWorx launched an IoT marketplace a year ago, and many other cloud companies are expanding their marketplace catalogues to include IoT solutions, including Salesforce.com’s AppExchange and AppDirect.

There are two things that make Aeris’ Neo marketplace unique.

First, the marketplace emphasizes the importance of network connectivity. This isn’t surprising given Aeris Communications’ over a 20-year history delivering network services in the machine-to-machine (M2M) environment. But, networking is a pivotal piece of the puzzle that many companies take for granted in their plans to launch an IoT deployment.

Networking is critical to provide the connectivity that pulls together IoT endpoints. Yet, there is a confusing assortment of networking alternatives, providers and tradeoffs that must be considered before making the right choice. Neo not only helps companies evaluate their options but enables them to quickly acquire the best network service to meet their needs.

The second unique attribute of the Neo marketplace is that it recognizes that IT solution companies, such as VARs, systems integrators (SIs) and managed service providers (MSPs) are playing a major role in building and operating IoT deployments on behalf of their corporate clients. These IT solution companies need greater access to IoT connectivity to meet their clients’ needs. Therefore, Neo will help them play an important role in the rapidly evolving IoT channel ecosystem.

These two attributes are also timely in the overall IoT marketplace, according to a recent IDG survey, which identified connectivity with remote assets and expanding partner ecosystems as two of the five top challenges facing IoT manufacturers.

Since the beginning of the software and technology industry, channel companies have been essential to extend the reach of vendors and cater the vendors’ offerings to specific segments of the marketplace. Some industry analysts suggested channel companies would be disintermediated by the cloud. The opposite has occurred. The confusion and complexity surrounding cloud services has made the role of VARs, SIs and MSPs even more important.

VARs, SIs and MSPs are going to be in the vanguard of the deployment of IoT initiatives also, with the help of cloud-based marketplaces like Aeris Communications’ Neo platform.

Jeff Kaplan is the managing director of THINKstrategies, founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace  and host of the Fourth Annual Cloud Channel Summit on December 3 in San Diego, Calif. He can be reached at jkaplan@thinkstrategies.com.

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