Welcome to the decade of M2M: the challenges facing operators – Part 2

In the first part of this article, we suggested that there are three primary challenges that M2M creates for operators. The first two are security/secure authentication and identifying the types and impact of connectivity required.

The third challenge is – almost inevitably – scalability.

Is this the elephant in the M2M room?  It seems to us that no-one really knows how quickly M2M will grow, nor to what size – because estimates vary so widely.  Take these figures, for example: in December, Analysis Mason said that global M2M deployments will grow 36% in 2011, and increase to 2.1bn devices by 2020.  But, back in March 2010, Ericsson predicted 50bn M2M devices by 2020 – an astonishing 24-fold difference of opinion.

While traffic-per-device will be low as compared to tablets and smartphones, the number of devices is clearly predicted to explode, whichever estimate you prefer.

Management of devices will be of critical concern – many different types of policy will be needed including static (at network attachment for secure access) and dynamic (managing sessions in real time).

From any list of challenges, the natural output is a list of requirements – a way to address the challenges. In this case, it’s a list of high-level requirements for a successful M2M deployment. Here is how we see those requirements right now:

  • hierarchical modeling of devices, to manage and define intelligent policies for both groups and individual devices based on entitlements and requirements
  • complex, multi-factor authentication, supporting multiple M2M deployment models while maintaining a high level of security.
  • scalable infrastructure to support M2M services, to ensure profitability and cost-effectiveness while supporting tens of millions of M2M connections.

No doubt there will be plenty of discussion, debate and opinions expressed about these over the coming months and years, and on these very pages.  Let’s hear them.  Bring on the decade of M2M.

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