Smart Cities Series: The IoT Software Explosion

From corporate networks through to staff and customer mobile devices, today everything runs on software. And as the software-defined and server-less movements continue to gain enterprise momentum the growth trajectory for application portfolios within all organisations is clearly up not down. The Internet of Things and Smart City agendas are now also adding to the portfolio of catalysts driving enterprise software adoption and complexity. The time to get on top of it is now.

As an example of the complexity that smart city initiatives must consider, when looking to adopt an IoT service as relatively mature and comprehensible as smart parking, an organisation must consider an application architecture comprised of at least 10 functional solutions (see Figure 1). To implement a service underpinned by much less than that would limit requirements and diminish the capability and value of the overall solution to close any opportunity gap first identified in the service design or ideation phase.


A number of considerations for managing the software explosion of smart city software include:

  1. IoT needs network and service management. Traditional Network and Service Operations software is not exstensible to the full requirements of IoT network management. A BMC or CA or ServiceNow will play a key role moving forward but we’re still waiting for someone to join the fray in this functional market.
  2. The IoT Platform market is crowded and getting more so and singularity does not yet exist across the IT and OT markets. That means that the focus of each platform (e.g. Azure IoT Suite, HPE IoT Frameworks, AWS IoT Platform, Cisco Jasper, Honeywell Uniformance Suite, Hitachi Lumada, GE Predix, Siemens MindSphere), is highly aligned to specific Smart City and IoT use cases.
  3. Solution-specific services like parking will require solution-specific sensors. Solution specific sensors may require solution specific gateways which will either double-up on IoT Platform investments or make them redundant. This equates to waste in the financial and skill-resource supply chains.
  4. A smart solution built in isolation is just a new service stack. In the absence of integration capability organisations will build new service and data silos which, in many cases, is counter-intuitive to smart city thinking. When it comes to IoT, architecting integration software into the enterprise framework is more important than ever.
  5. IoT security and identity solutions are “new security stack” functions. That means they won’t likely exist within the software or portfolio of your incumbent NGFW solution.
  6. Without consideration IoT asset registers will further replicate existing EAM and Financial Asset Management registers.
  7. ERP IoT platforms like Salesforce IOT Cloud are business- and event- processing platforms. They are very important to tie smart city initiatives back to one of the fundamental drivers and design points for smart cities – the customer. But they are not full stack IoT platforms and therefore if your future includes a multi-project strategy your organisation will eventually need both.

Bottom Line: As enterprise and industrial technology continue to merge organisations must be vigilante if they are to build smart architectures that enable, and not disable, future opportunities for IoT adoption at scale.