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The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic that promises much but is still in its infancy. The concept can unlock innovative new services, improved efficiency and the potential for cost reduction in areas like maintenance and support. However, a large portion of the devices that can benefit from this evolution; everything from vending machines to traffic lights, were never deployed with the ability to connect seamlessly through the internet. Worse still many of the devices that are IoT enabled have little connection resiliency if the primary network should become unavailable.

The lack of network resilience is an area that IoT pioneers are turning to technologies like Smart Out-Of-Band to solve.   In its simplest of form, SmartOOB provides a set of flexible connections to link any device through its Ethernet, serial or proprietary interfaces to an IP network of which cellular 3G/4G/LTE networks are the most popular choice due to their increasingly global coverage, performance and falling data costs.

This out-of-band network connectivity can act as both the primary link for devices that have no other means of IP connection, or as a failover if the PSTN, ISDN or other physical link is lost. However, the ‘smart’ part is that the technology can also act as a conduit for critical status monitoring, maintenance and troubleshooting activities. For example firmware updates, configuration changes, power cycling to correct errors plus a whole host of environmental monitoring around temperature, humidity and even local tampering. The intelligence within SmartOOB allows many of these functions to take place automatically such as Failover to Cellular™ to ensure that IoT functions continue irrespective of the state of the primary network.

This innovative approach opens up new potential for both product vendors and service providers. For example, Opengear partners are providing an extended support and business continuity service for point of sale terminals (POS) that uses SmartOOB to help retail customers.

Others are working with owners of vending and gambling machines to improve re-stocking and servicing process. Within IT infrastructure, several partners are delivering ‘remote break fix‘ to meet complex service level agreements. In fact, there are hundreds of organisations around the world that are using SmartOOB to meet IoT opportunities in vertical markets that include oil and gas, logistics, telecommunications, retail and many remote datacentre applications.

Yet for IoT to be successful, network reliability remains the critical factor. For communications service providers, the use of SmartOOB to support distributed infrastructure, for example Wi-Fi Hotspots and picocells increases operational efficiency by mitigating the risk of outages and also the ability to remotely respond to an issue without having to send an engineer out into the field.

The market opportunity is huge and there is still scope to innovate. This is especially true in niches where partners have deep expertise in particular equipment, processes or geographic relationships that can benefit from new IoT concepts. The use of cellular as the transport layer simplifies network provision for end customers and also opens up new recurring revenue potential for mobile carriers and channel partners selling data contracts.

For technology enablers like Opengear, our responsibility is clear. By developing open systems that meet the toughest security and encryption standards such as FIPS 140-2 and PCI-DSS along with compatibility for key cellular technologies and multi carrier support; we provide a platform for the rise of these innovative new services. This includes PTCRB (PCS Type Certification Review Board) certification to ensure our products work seamlessly with carriers including Sprint, AT&T and Verizon as well as regional testing with operators in over 200 countries including O2, EE, Deutsche Telekom, and Vodafone across 3G/4G/LTE networks.

With built in support for hundreds of classes of device which range from core IT infrastructure such as routers, switches and servers, through industrial plant and machinery and even systems within the home such as heating and utilities; SmartOOB is enabling the next wave of IoT without requiring an expensive rip and replace transition.

Our presence at Mobile World Congress offers a great opportunity to discuss and demonstrate the potential of SmartOOB and IoT. With experts on hand that can provide guidance on the scope of the SmartOOB technologies and applicability to a wide range of IoT use cases, join us in Hall 7 stand 7C84 and let us start the journey together.

About the author

Derek Watkins, VP Sales (EMEA & India)
Derek Watkins manages Opengear’s partnerships and marketing strategies in EMEA and has over 25 years of sales and sales management experience. Before Opengear, Derek was Sales Director EMEA for Server Technology where he developed and implemented the company’s sales and marketing strategy and led sales of power distribution and monitoring solutions for the critical facilities market. Prior, he held senior roles within several specialist data center organizations, including AFCO Systems, where he forged his extensive experience in the sector. Derek excels at working with global key accounts and, specifically, building relationships in the financial and data center markets.

About Opengear

Founded in 2004, Opengear delivers next generation intelligent solutions for managing critical IT and communications infrastructure. Opengear smart solutions equip our customers’ networks with smart automation and bulletproof resilience, enabling them to optimize technical operations and secure business continuity. The company is headquartered in the USA with executive offices in New Jersey, a manufacturing facility in Utah, R&D operations in Australia and sales offices in Europe, Asia and the USA. For more information, please visit