The ‘Hardening’ of M2M

Kathryn Weldon
Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • M2M security has emerged as a serious issue and a broad swath of the ecosystem is readying solutions to ensure that unguarded M2M endpoints do not cause security breaches, malware intrusion, and confidentiality leaks.  Verizon launched the first operator security solution specifically for M2M this week, a cloud-based managed certificate service.
  • However, security is only part of what is needed to make M2M enterprise-grade.  We need to apply the same kinds of capabilities to machine data that we would need for any business data that flows across networks to ensure connectivity is always available.  SLAs and network redundancy for cellular, wireline, and WiFi connectivity needs to be available across these different access technologies, which need to back each other up in case of failure.

We are starting to see M2M come more into the traditional domain of IT and enterprise networks.  According to Verizon, while some providers can offer a public network for the transmission of data, M2M customers should strongly consider a private network (wired or wireless) that can offer end-to-end connectivity.  This provides additional layers of security and business continuity.  They note that M2M solutions will thrive in an environment that allows endpoints to collect information, transmit it over a private wireless network, and transfer data into a secure, robust, and scalable cloud environment.  In the cloud, customers will be able to visualize data and make insightful business decisions.  In the future, they can take this a bit farther; Verizon intends to provide customers with an integrated support framework from endpoint to network to cloud and back.  This will be the mechanism that supports end-to-end SLAs crossing multicarrier networks, for wired, wireless, and cloud environments (either Verizon or others).  Other carriers are starting to talk this way about M2M as well; AT&T notes that its Commercial Connectivity Service, often used to connect mobile endpoints such as M2M devices to MPLS for added security, includes link redundancy to two data centers, with automatic failover in the event of an outage.

Other carriers are more skeptical, especially when it comes to network availability SLAs which are nearly impossible to provide with any accuracy for radio (cellular) networks.  M2M provider Telenor Connexion points out that it is more important that a connected services provider can point to a good track record of identifying and solving radio network problems, especially if it is in advance of their customers noticing a negative effect.  It further notes that a connectivity supplier should have: a ‘back-up’ roaming partner that can deliver the service in case of failure, a proactive service and support desk, and a skilled support team that can come up with alternative solutions to help with network problems.

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