"What's All This Enterprise IoT Stuff Anyway?"

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Posted on Thursday, December 21, 2017 by Steve Montgomery

Not all IoT solutions are created equal. In this blog, I am going to cover two key features that make an IoT solution ready for the enterprise.

Wireless sensor networks and enterprise grade IoT platforms are not necessarily the same thing, and it is important to understand the differences when considering a solution for your business.

A typical wireless sensor network is usually able to assign unique names and alerts to sensors and store their data in the cloud, but if you intend to deploy more than a few sensors in a single location, those features will not be enough.

First, lets consider how to visualize the sensors you deploy.  Most sensor network solutions will provide a table showing each sensor and its current status such as latest values, battery status, and even historical trend values.  The problem with this approach becomes apparent if you need to deploy multiple sensors at multiple locations.  For example, let's consider a grocery store chain with 25 locations that will each have 20 temperature sensors (monitoring refrigerators) for a total of 500 sensors.

Do you really want to scroll down through a table listing 500 sensors to check on your assets?  Probably not.   Even if the sensor table provides you with a way to filter the table, it will be tedious to manage.

Second, lets consider how we might provide reporting on the data collected from the sensors.  Once again, we can use the grocery store chain example.  In each store, there are 20 sensors, each monitoring a refrigerator.  At the end of each day, week, or month, we need a report showing the refrigerator temperature information for each location.  Without some convenient way of grouping the sensors by location, creating reports like this can be very difficult.

There are many more differences we could talk about, such as compound, location based alerting, but discussing them would require more words than you are probably willing to read, and these two points are sufficient to show the benefits of an enterprise grade IoT solution.

Whisker.IO® groups sensors in hierarchical relationships that allow us to greatly simply the tasks of configuration, monitoring, and reporting.  When new locations are added to our system, existing locations can be used as a template to quickly configure the new location if the sensor layout and usage is common among locations.  This saves a lot of time and effort when bringing up a new location.

Once your locations are configured, Whisker.IO® will automatically notify you if anything is wrong.  This "exception based alerting" makes Whisker.IO® very efficient and easy to use: you don't have to change how you work at all.  We have your back and if something goes wrong, we will let you know about it. If you don't hear from us, you know everything is OK and you can focus on other things.

Of course, if you do want to check on your assets, our Whisker.IO® portal can be used on any computer, tablet, or smartphone with an HTML5 compliant browser.  When you log into your account, you will initially be presented with what we call the "Enterprise View".  This view is essentially a map with a colored circle for every location in your account.  If the circle is green, everything is fine.  If it is red, there is a problem.  The circle's color is determined by the status of all of the devices at a given location. so if it is green, then you know every device at that location is doing fine.  

That makes checking on your enterprise very easy: just look at the map and if you see a sea of green circles, you know all is well.

If you want to see the devices for a specific location, you can click on the location's circle to "drill down" to the location view.  The location view is also a map, but it shows a colored circle for every Whisker.IO® device at that location.  Again, the color determines the status and green is good.

Clicking on a device's circle allows you to "drill down" to the device snap shot view which shows you the device's current and historical readings.  This view allows you to see how your device (or asset) is doing right now; it also shows a historical graph for each parameter the device is measuring (temperature, consumption, pressure, etc).

In three easy clicks, you can find and view a specific device even if you have tens of thousands of devices deployed.  Exception based alerting is great and very helpful, but sometimes you need to check on a specific device and the ability to get to that device's data in a few clicks is really helpful.

Whisker.IO® also provides a platform for ad-hoc reporting based on arbitrary levels of grouping.  For example, a franchisee with 10 locations could create a report that breaks the data out by location whereas the main corporation could create similar reports by region or franchisee.  This is also a great benefit of an enterprise grade solution.

Whisker.IO® has a lot of other enterprise level benefits including integration with external 3rd party applications and devices, a REST API for custom app development, and complex/compound alerting. I plan to talk about these features in future blog posts, so stay tuned.

Contact us today to find out more about the enterprise features of Whisker.IO®.