This is the first in a series of blog posts discussing the importance of a simple, secure and scalable infrastructure for remote and mobile assets. If you manage a fleet – whether for mass transit, mobile services or first responders – you probably face two dueling challenges. You’re expected to ensure stability and continuous operations even as your budget is flat or declining. Almost anyone who oversees traffic intersections, highway technologies and pipelines likely faces a similar dilemma.
Welcome to the world of remote and mobile assets – where, for decades, the primary technology requirements have been “make it cheap” and “make it last.”
But, as they say, winter is coming. In this world, this new season includes changing customer requirements, new types of competition, different economic models and dynamic security threats. These are changes severe enough to threaten the economic viability of any asset operator that doesn’t adapt. These changes demand operators embrace a hybrid environment combining get-the-job-done legacy technology with next-generation cloud-based technologies that bring the best of the Internet to the world of connected assets.
How can operators accelerate this critical journey?
Simple, secure and scalable infrastructure
The need to connect legacy devices with new applications causes the greatest amount of stress on the infrastructure. Should the architecture adhere to the legacy principles (make it cheap, make it last)? Or should it embrace the complexity of constantly evolving IT capabilities that can effectively respond to new requirements and security threats?
I believe the answer lies in the three Ss of remote and mobile assets:
- Simple solutions will be embraced by operations staff and more easily integrated into existing asset operations. The goal: to mask the complex IT architectures and configurations built to accommodate thousands of potential needs within enterprise networks. Instead, use templated designs and configurations based on industry use cases and best practices. These narrow your options – offering a few ways to quickly deploy and integrate the new capabilities into existing asset operations and processes.
- Secure solutions ensure that you preserve asset availability and operational integrity. That’s especially key when these assets are away from the protection of a campus environment and local area networks. With the gateway often the front door to your network, you need extra layers of security to block rogue devices and unexpected traffic. The other part of “secure” is ensuring you safeguard the end-to-end data stream – from the edge on a city street to the supporting application in a distant data center or cloud. This second “s” also requires built-in layers of security to examine data for unexpected content and data packets.
- Scalable solutions make it possible for thousands of assets to operate continuously in the wild. Scalability also positions you to evolve to meet future requirements. To deliver it, you need a robust infrastructure with underlying hardware and operating systems that can accommodate changing needs – as well as offer the flexibility to support new applications and the digital life of the asset. With this third “s,” you gain new ways of managing and transforming data at its source so your business can derive new insights faster. And, finally, you unlock support for an open ecosystem of customer and partner microservices that enable new business outcomes.
Focus on simple, secure and scalable design principles to allow your infrastructure to be optimized as you link your legacy assets with the applications that can provide your business a new digital future. Settle for nothing less than an infrastructure purpose built to support the needs of real-time IoT data, a mix of different technologies and integrated asset operation.
Want to know more? Explore Cisco’s solution for remote and mobile assets here.