Device Management: I get asked a lot about what is required to manage a successful M2M solution. There are a lot of moving components, and it can be daunting. Once you have made up your mind that you want to proceed (developed a business case, secured funding), you now have to decide the right combination for the solution to deploy (hardware, software, cellular technology, etc). But....you're not done. You have to manage these devices while they are in the field.
There are 4 important stages to managing a device, and we are going to address them in their own blog:
1) SIM / Activation Management
2) Device Management
3) Application enablement Management
4) Managing the "presentation" layer
In the case of a device that is located in the same building as your staff (or even, in the same room), you may not think too much about the idea of remote device management. If something doesn't work, or you wish to make a configuration change, the device is easily accessible. However, in the case of M2M solutions, devices are often located across the city, across the country or even around the world from where they are controlled. If you had to physically "touch" each device for each change, it may prove to be very costly (unwanted downtime, plus unwanted travel costs).
Remote management tools allow you to:
- Make configuration changes (changing the IP address that the device reports to, changing username/password, changing port settings, etc)
- Perform device resets
- Updating the device (new firmware, new script, etc)
- Troubleshoot (both the device itself, and any device that it is enabling communications for).
The benefits of using a Remote Device Management platform include:
- Better notification (such as if the device has failed to report, if the device is off line or if the device is experiencing issues), which results in reduced downtime.
- Better Customer Service (if your device is being used by one of your customers to retrieve information, you may know that the device is not functioning properly before they do!)
- Reduced travel time (you no longer have to visit remote sites to fix issues)
There are many different types of tools that can be used to perform Device Management functionality:
- Some devices used tools such as HyperTerminal, to allow you to easily execute remote commands
- Many devices have their own proprietary tool that allows for users of those particular devices to have full access to a GUI-based system.
- Recently, there have been a new batch of hosted services that allow you to manage devices from a number of manufacturers to be controlled by a single hosted on-line tool.
- Finally, using one of the above three mentioned methods, there are tools that allow you to embed the device management capability into your existing application, to allow staff to use existing tools to make remote changes.
No matter which tool you use to do it, using Remote Device Management for your M2M devices helps make your life a lot easier. Better uptime, better customer service and reduced travel costs are just a few reasons why you don't want to miss this valuable step!