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Cloud Hosting Cost Intricacies For IoT Application

11Sep,2017

If you’re struggling to get a handle on cloud costs for IoT applications, you’re not alone. IT executives are struggling to keep up with constantly shifting cost structures in the midst of a prolonged price war between Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, etc.  In addition, defining your application’s unique usage requirements, and managing your cloud migration and deployment costs both pose significant challenges.

Your initial IoT Application architecture discussions should include IT experts who will consider the scope of the following major subsystem usages on the cloud as part of the App design and implementation:

  1. Device Gateway – the interface between connected devices (sensors/actuators) and the cloud server.

  2. API Gateway – the interface between Mobile/Web applications and the cloud server.

  3. Back-end server/services – handle application business logic and data processing/ management.

  4. Notification Services - the interface to notify various events to the users via different mechanisms like Push notifications, Text message, email, etc.

  5. Database – storing the data collected from connected devices, applications, etc.

Device Gateway

The purpose of the device gateway is to enable secure and reliable interaction with cloud applications and connected devices. IoT projects have additional complexities when compared to other cloud-centric technology applications, such as:

Commonly used protocols to communicate to the cloud server are MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT), Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) and HTTP. The device gateway can be implemented using various components like MQTT/ AMQP brokers (ActiveMQ, HiveMQ, RabbitMQ etc.), REST API servers etc., and deployed on private/ public cloud virtual machines or standalone servers. The advantages of using services for the Device Gateway are listed below:

Selection of the device gateway and its properties will vary based on the use cases and other aspects including bidirectional connectivity, distributed computing, availability, scalability, security and reliability. The cost of the device gateway will vary based upon these factors.  The table below provides a comparison on the device gateway offered by major cloud providers.

The table below provides a comparison on the device gateway offered by major cloud providers.
                  major-cloud-providers

The major factors affecting the costing of a device gateway are the selection of the messaging protocol and its properties.

API Gateway

APIs allow software applications to exchange data and play an important role in modular architecture designs. An API gateway optimizes communication between clients and the application and it also extend the benefits of an API management platform for hybrid cloud computing deployments. API Gateway benefits include:

Backend Server/Services

Backend server/services will handle application business logic and data processing/management. The server applications can be deployed on a cloud Virtual Machine or deployed as server-less functions on the cloud. The server-less functions have the following benefits:

Server-less architectures have the following drawbacks:

The server-less architecture is more suitable for Internet of Things applications due to:

The table below provides a comparison of the server-less functions offered by major cloud providers.                

                  server-less functions-cloud-providers
  
The major factors affecting the costing of a server-less function are given below:

Notification Services

Faster communication is an intrinsic benefit and driver for the Internet of Things. The efficient and faster modes of notification servers are needed to establish real-time monitoring or controlling systems in IoT. The various methods of notifying end users are Push notifications, Text message, email, etc.  Notification Services are the interface to end users via these different methods. Push notifications are used for send notifications from backend server/application to various user interfaces like mobile applications, desktop applications, etc. eMail and Text messages are used to send notifications to users via their email or Phone numbers.

The table below provides a comparison of notification services offered by major cloud service providers.                         
                                    notification-services-major-cloud-service-providers

The decision on the mode of notification plays a vital role in the cost of Notification services.
Push notifications are the cheapest option when compared to other methods - eMail and SMS. Push notifications can be implemented with minimal to no cost, however, Text messages (SMS) are very expensive, and performance and price vary. Designing an IoT system with SMS notifications only for critical events, eMail for medium events and Push notification for all type of events will help to reduce overall costs.

Database

A database is used for storing the data collected from connected devices, applications, etc. A NoSQL Database is more suitable in IoT than Relational databases due to these factors:

The table below provides a comparison of the NoSQL Database services offered by major cloud providers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                NoSQL-Database-cloud-providers

Storage utilization and the number of concurrent operations are major factors effecting the cost of the database server. The IoT application with optimal database operation (read/ write/ delete) will help to reduce the cost of Database services.
For most cloud providers, the cost will vary based on the selected region. For example, Azure Cosmos DB will have the storage cost of $0.25 GB/month in Central US region, but Azure Cosmos DB will have the storage cost of $0.2825 GB/month in Japan East region.

If you’re struggling to get a handle on cloud costs for IoT applications, you’re not alone.

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