Book Image

Designing Production-Grade and Large-Scale IoT Solutions.

By : Mohamed Abdelaziz
Book Image

Designing Production-Grade and Large-Scale IoT Solutions.

By: Mohamed Abdelaziz

Overview of this book

With the rising demand for and recent enhancements in IoT, a developer with sound knowledge of IoT is the need of the hour. This book will help you design, build, and operate large-scale E2E IoT solutions to transform your business and products, increase revenue, and reduce operational costs. Starting with an overview of how IoT technologies can help you solve your business problems, this book will be a useful guide to helping you implement end-to-end IoT solution architecture. You'll learn to select IoT devices; real-time operating systems; IoT Edge covering Edge location, software, and hardware; and the best IoT connectivity for your IoT solution. As you progress, you'll work with IoT device management, IoT data analytics, IoT platforms, and put these components to work as part of your IoT solution. You'll also be able to build IoT backend cloud from scratch by leveraging the modern app architecture paradigms and cloud-native technologies such as containers and microservices. Finally, you'll discover best practices for different operational excellence pillars, including high availability, resiliency, reliability, security, cost optimization, and high performance, which should be applied for large-scale production-grade IoT solutions. By the end of this IoT book, you'll be confident in designing, building, and operating IoT solutions.
Table of Contents (15 chapters)
Section 1: Anatomy of IoT
Section 2: The IoT Backend (aka the IoT Cloud)
Section 3: IoT Application Architecture Paradigms and IoT Operational Excellence

The purpose of any technology (including IoT technology)

Technology exists, and will keep evolving, to help achieve desired business outcomes. This is the ultimate fact. Business owners and investors always look for the following business outcomes when they run a company or invest in any business domain:

  • Increased business sales, revenue, company value, the number of customers, and profits. In other words, an increase in the value of business growth with respect to the different business metrics we have just mentioned.
  • Reduced business operational costs, which means the cost of running and operating the business must not exceed the value of the business profits by any means. Otherwise, the business is not considered profitable.
  • The mitigation of different business risks such as new market disruptions and innovations, more competition, falling brand reputation (including an increase in the number of unhappy customers, extra product failures, negative social media feedback, and other factors affecting business brands), security risks, fraud risks, and operational risks (lack of automation, speed, and employee skills).

These are three common, well-known business outcomes every organization or business aims to achieve. There may be more, but this book does not cover economy or business theories.

Based on those aforementioned outcomes, it is clear now that no one will buy technology just to play with it; rather, they will buy technology that can help them achieve their desired business outcomes, or, in other words, they will buy technology that solves their business problems.

If you have been in business for the last few years, I am sure you've heard the term Digital Transformation a lot. Every organization nowadays is talking about its steps and strategies to transform its existing business into a digital-first business, especially after seeing the massive growth and business disruption of many large, digital, hyperscale companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and other tech companies that were born in the digital era, including Uber, Airbnb, and a host of other successful start-ups.

"Digital transformation marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people, and processes to fundamentally change business performance", says George Westerman, MIT principal research scientist and the author of Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation.

Many IT and tech companies offer business enterprises and organizations a complete, rich portfolio of services, solutions, and technologies that they provide to assess such enterprises in their digital transformation journey toward becoming digital-first.

Since this book is about technology (not people or processes), the question might be, how will technology help such a great digital transformation initiative? Or, in other words, what are the digital transformation technology enablers that each enterprise could use on such an exciting transformation journey? You might even ask why we are talking about business outcomes and digital transformation when this book is all about the IoT.

Regarding the last question, it is a valid one, and we will answer it soon. One thing to mention here is that we have decided to share with you the practical, or what is called applied, IoT experience that we have gained from being in the IoT field for many years. This experience stemmed from designing, delivering, and operating many large-scale and production-grade IoT solutions for many large enterprises around the globe:

Now, back to the question of what are the key technology enablers and solutions for enterprise digital transformation programs? And to answer this, let's look at the technologies and architecture paradigms that are considered key enablers for digital transformation:

Figure 1.1 – Digital transformation – key technology enablers

Figure 1.1 – Digital transformation – key technology enablers

Let's explain these key technology enablers in more detail.

Transforming into cloud-native applications and solutions

Transforming existing enterprise systems and IT workloads into new and modern cloud-native solutions is a key enabler in the digital transformation journey.

There are many different views on the definition of cloud-native, especially when it is compared with other terms and trends such as cloud-readiness and cloud-enabled. We will cover this in more detail later in the book. However, for now, we will stick to the official definition of cloud-native as per the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF):

Cloud-native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach.

The benefits of transforming organization workloads into cloud-native workloads are as follows:

  • Releasing software fast so that it can hit the market quickly with new features
  • Reducing costs, and leveraging the cloud and different pricing models, for example, pay as you go or paying for what you consume
  • Increasing the scalability, reliability, and availability of enterprise applications and solutions
  • Avoiding vendor lock-in – in other words, increasing application and solution portability

Moving to the cloud

There are many benefits of migrating and moving enterprise IT workloads and systems to the cloud (especially public clouds). We'll mention a few here:

  • Operational benefits, operational excellence, and operational efficiency: Efficiency means you get more for less. In the public cloud model, the monitoring and support of application workloads become much more effective and manageable. Public cloud providers offer lots of automation tools, different support, and monitoring services to help enterprise operation teams.
  • Financial benefits and cost reduction: The move from the CapEx (Capital Expenditure) model to OpEx (Operating Expenses), or the pay-as-you-go model, helps you pay for what you use. With this model, by reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO), you don't need to worry about data center facilities, ongoing hardware maintenance costs, and support to maintain the required reliability and availability of your IT and system workloads; the cloud provider will take care of such things.
  • Faster innovation or shorter time to hit the market: Leveraging different cloud offerings, such as IaaS, PaaS, and/or SaaS, that enable the enterprise to try and build a proof of concept (POC) of any new ideas very quickly without worrying about buying hardware, software, platforms, and so on.
  • Manage business growth and regulations effectively and smoothly: Most key public cloud providers offer a large set of regions and data centers across the globe. In a couple of minutes or less, you could deploy your workload in any region or geography around the globe if you have business needs in a particular region or have to observe local regulations or compliance requirements, such as data not leaving the country where the business is operating.

Big data and advanced analytics

Traditional analytics and business intelligence technologies and tools have long been used in enterprises and organizations of different sizes. However, the amount, velocity, and different varieties of data generated by business IT (information technology) and business OT (operational technology) systems change the way data and business analytic solutions work. Now, we are talking about big data technologies and real-time or near-real-time data analytics solutions versus historical data analytics.

AI and ML

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) play a vital role in the digital transformation journey as enterprises in different business segments use different AI and ML models and solutions, including predictive maintenance, product recommendations, personalized marketing and promotions, chatbots, drag discovery, fraud detection, radiology image recognition, video analytics, content commissioning, content creation, auto-subtitling, sentiment analysis, self-driving cars, and many other interesting business cases and solutions besides.

Modern applications and architectures

Creating a powerful customer digital experience requires the availability and utilization of a rich set of modern applications and architecture paradigms. For example, in modern apps, the de facto architecture paradigms commonly used nowadays are microservice and two-tier architecture versus the traditional three-tier architecture. When it comes to compute, modern solutions and architecture paradigms will include things such as Serverless Event-Driven Compute (for example, AWS Lambda, Azure, and Google Functions), Containers (for example, Docker), and Container Orchestration (for example, Kubernetes).

When it comes to Middleware and Integration, modern solutions and architecture paradigms will include things such as API Gateway, GraphQL, Service Mesh, Pub-Sub Architecture (queues and Service Bus), and Event Streaming (Kafka). When it comes to Databases, it is not just a question of traditional, well-known relational databases or Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMSs); other database types have emerged recently, including NoSQL, object storage, graph databases, and in-memory databases. When it comes to Mobile Apps and Web Apps, modern frameworks such as React Native, Angular, Vue, and many other frameworks and technologies besides will be used to build such amazing modern customer or consumer apps.

Internet of Things (IOT)

IoT is a key technology enabler for digital transformation. In fact, IoT is the most important technology enabler for the digital transformation process as it is also a key enabler for some other key technology enablers, such as big data and advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning. How? Simply put, such technology enablers depend heavily on collected data and insights from the different data sources of a running business. IoT is one such enterprise or business operational data source.

In the next few sections, we will discuss the different aspects of IoT, in other words, we will discuss the what, why, and how of IoT solutions and technologies.