Cost-Effectiveness For High-Performance IoT Solutions Is Not Just An Executive Concern

Dr Mehmet Yildiz

The significant part of the iceberg relates to prominent technology professionals.
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High availability, high performance, and high security come with a hefty price tag. Therefore, cost and price are the top items in the agendas of sponsoring executives.

Even though cost and price are executive-level concerns, senior technical professionals can play a crucial role in managing the cost of critical IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. The sales executive team mainly manages the price. The lower the cost, the more competitive the price can be.

This article focuses on reducing cost using smart architectural, technical, and design decisions made by prominent technology professionals at the earlier phases of solutions.

Even though cost and price are executive-level concerns, technical professionals can play a crucial role in managing the cost of critical IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. This means that architectural diligence and design decisions for high availability, performance, and security can positively impact cost in the long run.

If the solution architecture is not solid, and if not enough thought is put into design constraints at the earlier phases of the solution lifecycle, then, most likely, the cost of the projects will increase dramatically. In addition, the situation can worsen when solutions are deployed in production systems and the support systems go live for consumers.

Poorly performing IoT products and services increase the cost of system and service supportability and may harm a business organization’s reputation. In addition, unsatisfied clients can stop using services and stop recommending them to other users. These two negative predispositions naturally cause business loss.

Solution architects and designers must find ways to make IoT programs inexpensive and affordable for consumers. In particular, they need to focus on lowering the cost for each solution component gradually without compromising quality.
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The common belief is that making solutions cost-effective without compromising quality cannot be possible as many trade-offs are made in the architecture, design, and development phases. This belief creates a dilemma for many business organizations.

From my experience, this belief is partially correct and context-dependent. In reality, the solution cost can be reduced by making a trade-off with a methodical approach by obtaining collaborative input from business and technology departments and using an iterative agile development approach. The quality of the solution can be increased to provide highly available and high-performance solutions.

This approach requires some upfront time and effort investment; however, the cost of the overall solution will be dramatically reduced in the long run. Let’s keep in mind that the more significant part of the iceberg for solutions occur when they go to production.

IoT devices can have several cost items associated with their production and support. Among them, one of the critical considerations for the cost of devices is related to their use of energy power. For example, battery life, battery size, and the way the devices use energy for sustainability can considerably impact supportability costs. The cost of changing the battery for thousands of devices can be very high, and the process to change them can be very time-consuming.

IoT solution architects and designers need to make design choices concerning device battery life. Ideally, the battery life should last a few years rather than a matter of months or weeks. In fact, as a rule of thumb nowadays, it is believed that anything under ten years is not considered sustainable and cost-effective.

Another design choice can be the use of energy harvested or battery-provided power. For example, if solar energy is used to charge batteries, it may have a long-term, positive impact on cost.
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The IoT protocols present a considerable amount of cost implications on the solutions. To this end, solution architects and designers need to consider cost-effective protocols with effective energy use. For example, one architectural and design decision could be using low power, wide-area network communication protocols.

Another consideration is the use of cellular connectivity protocols. Interestingly, cellular IoT connectivity protocols are easier to set up and provide better reliability. From a security point of view, these protocols also allow device owners to control the data.

Wireless mesh network topology using mixed protocols can also be very cost-effective and can aid in producing high-performing and high availability solutions. The mixed protocols in this topology connect and extend the radio signals for routing, covering more extensive zones. Thus, they create a reliable network.

The more reliable the network, the better performance they pose. For example, the use of Zigbee can be a cost-effective contributing factor to the solution because Zigbee delivers low-latency communication, and it is a low-cost and low-power wireless mesh network standard. In addition, Zigbee is used for battery-powered devices in wireless control applications.
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Technical professionals like solution architects and designers can contribute much to the cost-effectiveness of the solutions in both IoT products and services.

IoT solution architects and designers can make strategic decisions for the quality of products and services at the initial phases. It is a known fact that effective designs can have a positive impact on solution productivity and supportability.

To conclude, effective and timely architectural and design decisions, producing quality work-products (such as availability, performance, and security models), careful analysis of business requirements, well-understood use cases, and the best architectural practices for the solution can contribute to the cost-effectiveness of solution considerably. Moreover, this heavy duty undertaken by technical professionals in the earlier phases of the solution lifecycle can ease the concerns of busy business executives in emerging digital ventures.

Thank you for reading my perspectives.

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I write about important and valuable life lessons. My goal is to delight my readers. My content aims to inform and engage my readers. I'm a technologist, cognitive scientist, and postdoctoral researcher, with four decades of experience.


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