IoT Back-End: To Build or To Buy?
Beyond what we've already discussed, the decision to build or to buy your IoT back-end may also depend on the following factors.
1. Level of Customization
A highly customized solution with specialized features will almost necessitate that you build the IoT back-end yourself. The alternative is to buy a pre-built IoT solution and then spend more time and money tailoring it to your needs and objectives, which is likely an inefficient use of your resources.
2. Time to Market
If you want to push your product to market fast, and you aren’t sure you have the bandwidth to build your own solution, then buying is likely the right choice.
Remember that the time you spend coming up with an idea and constructing a solution is also an expense. Buying IoT back-end infrastructure means that you pay money right now to get something that works, lowering the risk of a project that never gets off the ground.
3. In-House Staff
Ask yourself: do you already have employees on your payroll who are capable of designing, developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining an IoT back-end infrastructure?
The right choice between build vs. buy may depend on how you plan to use your IoT platform: whether it’s your company’s main product, or whether it’s only an auxiliary part of your business plan.
In the former case, you can probably sustain having all these employees on staff. In the latter case, it may not be cost-effective to hire, onboard, and train these people and pay their salaries and benefits.
4. Compliance and Security
Being able to meet regulatory compliance and security requirements can be a make-or-break factor when choosing an in-house or a vendor-provided IoT platform. If you aren’t able to meet the appropriate security standards for sensitive data, your organization may be subject to fines and other penalties.
Using mature public cloud solutions is likely the option with least risk. For example, AWS offers GovCloud, a cloud computing service which is compliant with the regulations of U.S. government customers and their partners. Microsoft and Google also have their own government-compliant cloud solutions.
5. Ongoing Maintenance
The question of ongoing maintenance is relevant whether you decide to build or buy an IoT platform.
If you build the platform in-house, then you likely want to retain your current staff so that they’ll continue to work on it. Otherwise, you need a guarantee from your vendor that they can provide long-term support and maintenance.
Knowing What you Need in an IoT Project
Building or buying your IoT back-end infrastructure is a complicated and involved question. You’ll only be able to come to the right conclusion if you know your specific requirements and capabilities.
If you decide to build your own IoT back-end infrastructure, you absolutely must have a team — either in-house or with a third-party development partner — that can create and maintain it for the long run. This is particularly crucial for the question of IoT security, which has been an afterthought in far too many cases.
On the other hand, if you decide to purchase a pre-built IoT solution, you need to make sure that it matches the features and functionality that your business requires.
If you’re looking for more information or advice, feel free to get in touch. At Very, we can help you figure out what you need from your IoT platform and the right way to fill in the gaps. To learn more about how we approach these issues, take a look at our complete guide to IoT development.