Cloud Integration: Top 5 Challenges to Overcome

March 5, 2024

A cloud with binary code representing IoT integration.

Businesses can manage their Internet of Things (IoT) devices more efficiently by integrating them into a cloud. Cloud integration can increase security and reliability, whether in a private, on-premises cloud or a public cloud like AWS or Microsoft Azure. IoT cloud integration will also future-proof systems and permit remote upgrades. However, transitioning devices to the cloud is challenging.

Many companies first built means of remotely controlling and communicating between their IoT devices and business platforms. However, these early IoT solutions became nightmares due to constant updates and regulatory requirements. Once companies tried to transition to the cloud, many forgot about IoT.

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Cloud Integration Obstacles

There are five challenges to overcome when integrating devices into the cloud:

1. Qualified Personnel 

Two individuals collaborating on a laptop in a server room for IoT cloud integration.

Companies need qualified personnel to move IoT data from embedded applications with binary or proprietary protocols and data formats to something larger and more standardized. Today, the most convenient data format for an IoT cloud integration is JSON, which requires a JSON library. However, this library might not be suitable for a constrained device architecture.

In addition, developers must implement the protocol to transfer data from the device to the cloud. This usually consists of a secure MQTT protocol with specific adaptations to match additional protocol specifications from the cloud vendor.

2. Legacy Technologies 

Some legacy products can’t upgrade to a new edge application because IoT devices are born with specific protocols and format restraints. As a result, they are often quite difficult to integrate with the cloud.

3. Security for Cloud Integration

In the past, businesses had an intrinsic issue with understanding security requirements. This was primarily due to a lack of skills and culture. While most companies today understand the value of embracing security, they need help implementing best practices. Moreover, depending on the company’s maturity and resources, it may need to rely on third-party vendors and service providers.

4. Power Consumption 

Silhouette of power lines above background of servers.

Moving to a cloud-integrated IoT device is difficult when dealing with bigger data sites and complex operations requiring more processing capacity. These sites and operations consume more power and take longer to transmit large chunks of data.

Analyzing the best solution in terms of power efficiency and technology choice requires in-depth knowledge of connectivity technologies. In addition, it requires familiarity with available connectivity devices.

5. Migrating 

Onboarding or provisioning of many devices can be challenging. Most cloud vendors provide various solutions to address the onboarding problem. These solutions include pre-injected credentials in the connectivity module (such as devices qualified for AWS IoT ExpressLink) or in the SIM (like GSMA’s IoT SAFE standard). Another option is massive, yet less secure, fleet provisioning with a single, shared claim certificate for a batch of devices.

Customers must understand the security risks and efforts involved when designing the onboarding process among the alternatives provided by the cloud provider.

How Businesses Can Overcome IoT Integration Challenges 

A blue cloud with a padlock, symbolizing secure IoT cloud integration.

A trusted module and cloud services provider can offer cloud integration solutions and hardware to help customers achieve:

  • More successful integration
  • Robust security posture
  • Shorter time to market

Businesses should prioritize providers that follow a security-by-design approach — especially for large and edge deployments. A qualified partner can identify devices and establish policies that prevent bad actors from disguising themselves as trusted sources (i.e., spoofing). Moreover, this partner can keep unauthorized devices from connecting to the cloud or application.

Businesses should leverage big cloud providers or hyperscalers like AWS or Microsoft Azure. However, companies will need the proper qualifications for their IoT devices to work with the cloud provider. Telit Cinterion has these qualifications — in particular, AWS IoT ExpressLink, AWS IoT Core and Microsoft Azure plug-and-play qualified hardware.  

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