“We have a whole division of people who are just focused on patching and security,” adding that that functionality doesn’t really scale well for a device maker. “Think of like a smart Wi-Fi camera on a building – if you break that through a bad update, you do not want to be getting a ladder out and all your customers having to pull them down off buildings – that’s something that doesn’t sit well with customers.”
One of the other big challenges facing enterprise IoT pros is quantifying the return on investment for any given opportunity, he argued. He offers the example of a refrigerator manufacturer that wants to add connective features to its products in order to glean a better understanding of how they’re used.
“You instinctively know that having telemetry on a device would be very useful and would help me in terms of product development, but without it, you don’t know what you don’t know,” Bell said.
Working with companies on IoT products has its challenges for a company unused to the marketplace, of course – Canonical is used to a relatively orderly 5-year support cycle for Ubuntu, but that’s often not enough time for enterprise IoT deployments, which can have lengthy potential service lives.
“You can get a legacy version of Ubuntu Server and buy another couple of years of support,” Bell said. “This is nothing new in the enterprise market, but yeah – when it comes to embedded applications, the challenges are different. We are getting to grips with that.”
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