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Avoiding the Time Sinks of DIY Edge Communications

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Software developers are by nature creative, and love a good challenge. All of this can make some—especially those with robust IT departments—eager to leap into do-it-yourself projects, which might at first glance seem like just another enjoyable puzzle to solve.

However, a DIY approach can result in IT teams tumbling into a time sink when it comes to edge communications—connecting dozens, hundreds—or thousands—of sensors in the field with multi-channel capability to ensure flawless and timely integration with the backend servers that crunch the data and generate actionable insights. Time sinks are expensive, as IT resources are pulled away from core business activities. They can also come in the form of delays in project implementation because of the need to work with multiple vendors, and create the integrations between all of the devices. Losses can also come from reducing the value of sensor deployments, when some sensors and micro networks can’t be successfully integrated through the edge device, meaning data must be collected the old-fashioned way.

Challenges of Edge Communications

Do-it-yourself projects can become time sinks when it comes to creating robust edge connectivity. That's why we specialize in data delivery.

The challenge of edge communications rises rapidly with the number of, and heterogeneity of, a sensor deployment, as well as the size of the geographic distribution and variations in carrier needs and availability.

Public utilities, gas and oil operations, and other organizations with geographically dispersed sensors, make strategic investments in sensor technology to ensure the efficiency, stability, and safety of their assets, while also gaining mission-critical visibility into their operations.

To enjoy these benefits, organizations require robust performance from their edge device, which forwards data from sensors to the backend servers. From a DIY perspective, this might seem easy enough: Purchase an edge computing device and plug it into your network. Within an office environment this might work OK (though even here, there are plenty of potential shortfalls), but for industrial settings, and geographically distributed devices, the challenge is far greater.

Challenges include:

  • Integrating sensors from multiple vendors

  • Dealing with varying packet size limitations

  • Coordinating across multiple carriers, depending upon sensor locations

  • Seamless shifting to satellite when ground-based communications are out of range

  • Failover to satellite when ground-based communications fail

  • Ability to support two-way communication to enable updates to the field

A significant weak point with DIY solutions is implementing an edge device that can successfully work with a range of different sensors, often on legacy infrastructure. Not only do you have to find an edge-compute device compatible with your sensor, but you have to make sure it can compress and encrypt the data for sending in a way that’s compatible with the connectivity path.

The process of linking and debugging systems from different manufacturers, and with sometimes widely different functions, can be a nightmare of creating and debugging custom integrations—especially with the highly heterogeneous mix of custom IoT operating systems and interfaces. Added to this is integrating the most efficient communication networks. Often one solution will require the use of a mix of networks—especially for disaster failover scenarios, when, for example, a seamless shift to satellite is required.

An organization may have smart sensors working brilliantly in areas with strong LTE or 5g coverage, but communication failures in their service areas where coverage is unreliable or completely absent. At this point satellite communications are required, but few organizations have internal expertise in this area, meaning that they may end up collecting data manually in these areas, increasing labor costs, as well as introducing latency that may make the data all but useless, except from an historic standpoint. In other cases, it could mean driving along a transmission line looking for the point of failure. This all adds up to decreasing the value of their smart sensor investment.

Organizations monitoring mobile assets can struggle with DIY deployments requiring connectivity both in and out of cellular coverage areas.

All of these concerns aren’t theoretical. They reflect what we hear from customers who encountered challenges when attempting to harness the data from their sensors on their own. After making substantial investments in sensors and the software to generate data visualization and analytics, they find that they are losing value because of weakness in that all-important connectivity piece required to efficiently manage data delivery from the field.

That’s Why We Created Datadel … to Provide Data Delivery as a Service

Datadel was created to provide Data Delivery as a Service. We solve one of your costly under the radar problems when it comes to deploying IoT solutions. We specialize in data delivery, so you don’t have to. When explaining what we do, we often point to United Parcel Service, which specializes in getting packages from one point to another, so you don’t have to.

We provide a true end-to-end IoT service that delivers your data from any sensor, anywhere in the world. Our complete data delivery solution includes:

  • Orchestrator. The Datadel Orchestrator is a universal edge-compute device with software that allows you to change data delivery schedules when needed, giving you increased or decreased resolution of your devices as well as cost control. The Orchestrator condenses and encrypts your data for security and efficiency, and sends it over the best connectivity path based on your application needs and your location.

  • Network. Datadel was founded by a team of network engineers with decades of experience in network design and operation. We partner with the best providers of cellular and satellite networks, as well as operate and own several satellite networks of our own. Because of this, we have true global reach.

  • Platform. Datadel delivers your data in a way that makes it easy for you to integrate into your software of choice. In addition, we provide a robust portal to view the status of all your devices, schedule data sends, and more. This includes two-way communication, allowing you to, for example, centrally update sensor hardware, enabling immediate delivery of security patches or software updates.

This is why public utilities, oil and gas companies, and other organizations come to Datadel: When they've made significant investments in sensors and software but haven't been able to fully integrate the elements to gain full visibility across their networks. Do it Yourself is admirable, but Datadel can save you time and money because we’ve already done it for you with our Data Delivery as a Service.

So instead of DIY, take advantage of our DDaaS.

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