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Secure, Scalable IoT Device Management

From shopping mall kiosks to busy traffic intersections to vast industrial sites, the Internet of Things (IoT) enables corporate and industrial enterprises, medical facilities and public sector organizations to control equipment and deliver services in ways that were not even possible a decade ago. Millions of IoT devices are now deployed across cities and remote sites around the world. And IoT device management is a critical component of those solutions.

Network managers require IoT device management tools to quickly update all their devices, improve functionality, add features, and roll out security patches. IoT network managers always need visibility into what is happening with devices in the field. Their small staffs need the scale provided by automation, and an active 24/7 monitoring service acting as their eyes and ears in the field, and alerting them to issues in need of their attention.

In our recent webinar, John Coates of ElectriCities shared how Digi Remote Manager® – Digi’s  IoT device management platform – enabled his organization to scale their operations throughout the region. With visibility across an ever-growing deployment, and the ability to identify and manage issues, ElectriCities is able to identify and manage critical issues and perform preventative maintenance.

The right IoT device management solution will monitor device configurations and remediate configuration anomalies across your network. Without these capabilities, IT and project teams cannot expand coverage. They can't scale beyond a few dozen devices and hope to maintain visibility into infrastructure performance, manage security, or cost-effectively keep devices up-to-date and in compliance. In short, if devices were to go offline for some reason, network managers could be none-the-wiser.

In this blog post, we describe how Digi Remote Manager (Digi RM) resolves these issues and provides a "single pane of glass" for IoT device management. We will examine how Digi RM handles four key aspects of IoT management and introduce you to some customer use cases.
 

Digi Remote Manager: The Command Center for Your Intelligent Network

remote iot device management platform
Digi Remote Manager is a hosted IoT device management platform that extends the security and capabilities of Digi hardware, transforming geographically dispersed devices into an intelligent, connected network through centralized management. Repetitive, manual tasks are automated, and it’s simple to confirm that IoT devices are working properly, troubleshoot problems and, remediate issues automatically.
 
With Digi RM, every device is securely authenticated, and can be configured, monitored and updated on demand.  All of these capabilities are available through a central management dashboard for network managers. In addition to the full tool suite, Digi Remote Manager offers a mobile app for IoT device management in the field.
 

Authentication

IoT device monitoring and managementSecure authentication of both users and devices is a key first step when building an IoT network. Digi RM helps users manage certificate-based provisioning to ensure that certificates are genuine and that each session is properly authenticated.

Digi takes an “in-depth defense” approach to IoT security, employing multiple strategies to secure devices and deployments through the tenants of Digi TrustFence, Digi’s comprehensive security framework.  Digi TrustFence supports two-factor authentication and also ensures that Digi products ship with unique default passwords.
 

Configuration

When devices are initially installed in the field, technicians focus on the physical task of ensuring devices are securely anchored, properly connected and protected from the elements. Their time is best spent on those tasks which can only be performed on site. Digi Remote Manager automates device configuration, firmware updates and uploads of file system contents, so technicians can deploy devices and have them automatically receive custom configurations, based on assignment to an organizational group.
 
Custom configurations can be constructed by pre-registering a device and assigning it to a group using Digi RM’s Configuration Manager, with its drag-and-drop technology. With this capability, administrators can easily scale for deployments of many thousands of devices and still manage them with a minimal team. Without Digi RM, it is challenging to deploy and manage more than a small handful of distributed devices.
 

Monitoring

Digi RM dashboards feature clear, intuitive pie charts and bar graphs for at-a-glance insight into network performance. Users can click any of the graphs or metrics to drill down for greater detail. The dashboard layout is also customizable, and any of the available widgets can be rearranged as needed, placing the most important information front and center.

Remote device management dashboard

Administrators are able to set alerts to monitor the state of devices via the Device Setting page and automatically restore an approved configuration in the event of unexpected changes. They can also remotely access devices "out of band" through a built-in terminal console if the network is down. This is especially important when devices are dispersed across a wide geographical area, making truck rolls to each location cost prohibitive.
 
In addition, one of the most popular usability features is the optional "dark mode" interface (which presents light text against a dark background) making Digi RM easy on the eyes and more readable under different lighting conditions. This is especially helpful for field technicians working outdoors in bright sunlight.
 

Managing IoT devices in the fieldMaintenance and Updating

Digi RM can help administrators maintain nearly all the different components of the “IoT stack,” including hardware, software and cloud-based applications, tools, middleware and firmware, as well as edge devices. Devices maintain an encrypted, bi-directional connection with Digi RM, so users can download new business logic whenever necessary.
 
Digi RM provides flexible customization with a full suite of web services APIs, which can be used to implement and integrate with third-party applications, such as cloud services like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. The API Explorer in Digi RM empowers you to learn and explore APIs interactively. You can browse quickly through available APIs, execute requests and review responses in real time.
 

Digi Remote Manager in Action

IoT device management in agriculture
For an insight into the practical benefits of Digi RM, here are examples of Digi customers who use the application daily in their deployments.

ElectriCities of North Carolina, accompany serving electrical utility cooperatives in North Carolina and neighboring states. They maintain a complex communications network collecting data from meters, generators and telematics equipment like remote terminal units (RTU). ElectriCities leverages Digi RM to monitor configurations of deployed Digi cellular devices and can automatically remediate them and return configurations to their approved settings in the event of a problem. The ability of Digi RM to monitor and manage large deployments from a single point of entry allows the ElectriCities team to easily scale, meeting increasing customer demand without adding head count.
 
Wake Inc. assists construction project managers who need to keep tabs on the sensitive concrete curing process for critical infrastructure projects by providing wireless access to real-time temperature logging information. As sensor information is delivered by a Digi Connect® Sensor+ cellular IoT gateway, Digi RM enables the construction team to remotely monitor large arrays of sensors in near real time from smartphones and PCs.
 
Enlazza, a company providing hostname services for utilities and industrial firms in Chile, leveraging the API in Digi RM to help customers reliably connect to Digi devices over a cellular network in a market where public, static APNs are challenging to obtain. Enlazza developed an application that continuously communicates with Digi RM using a command-line interface, so after a simple registration process, Enlazza sends customers a link that automatically creates a VPN tunnel to devices in the field. Digi RM enables those customers to monitor routers, verify power status, connection status, and modify device configurations whenever necessary.

Command Alkon's TrackIt product is a vehicle telematics product that utilizes the Digi Wireless Vehicle Bus Adapter and Digi Remote Manager to monitor vehicle fleet in transit to and from construction sites. The solution provides an enormous amount of real-time data for insights and decision making. For example, it enables dispatchers to check fuel status, engine temperature, and other diagnostic data, as well as the vehicle location, so they can slow down or speed up dispatches of concrete to construction sites to ensure the exact pacing needed.  
 

Digi Remote Manager Feature Upgrades

Finally, in recent releases of Digi Remote Manager, we have introduced an updated user interface with many exciting new features designed to make the platform even more intuitive and user-friendly. With its full suite of automated device management functionality Digi RM simplifies the management of IoT devices and enables network administrators to focus more of their attention on the business benefits of IoT.

 
Contact us today to discuss how Digi RM can deliver more flexibility, more control and — most important — more value for your Digi IoT implementation.
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