In my latest post, Zentri is Providing an Open Platform That Will Bring Your Product into the Connected World, I discussed how Zentri is taking an open approach in providing its customers with an easy to implement connectivity, security and device management platform. As new business models develop with the Internet of Things, I believe the best way to integrate with the rest of the connected world is to form strong alliances with competing and complementing product and service providers in the space. Nick Dutton, Head of Business Development, and Julie Mullins, Marketing Manager at Zentri kindly shared their view regarding how partnerships are critical to their business as an IoT service provider.
Bringing In The Hardware
Though Zentri has quite a stellar line of hardware modules, they are open to having their customers run the ZentriOS operating system on modules produced by other manufacturers. Zentri initially launched their long line of hardware to ensure that the operating system can run over a variety of silicon solutions, work with different radio solutions and with different technology. Creating these modules not only allowed the company to create a suitable business by selling hardware, but more importantly proved that their operating system was flexible enough to run on multiple platforms, with multiple vendors and with multiple technologies. Dutton emphasizes: “ultimately our goal as a company is not a hardware company, it’s a software company.” By developing a wide range of modules, Zentri has been able to leverage relationships with other hardware companies to have ZentriOS run on their boards, since the operating system has proven to work over a wide range of technologies.
Mullins explained, “We’re in the software business. Anyone can buy a module for the cheapest price from eBay, but that module won’t have the security you need to trust your products in the market or the management capabilities to provide secure upgrades to each individual device. This is the hard part that Zentri solves.”
Your Competitor Might Just Be The Perfect Partner
Given ZentriOS’ ability to integrate with so many different hardware manufacturers and cloud services, I was curious as to their vision for utilizing channel and strategic partners as a way to get their software in the hands of more developers. Dutton had a very interesting response, saying that “there are some companies out there in the Bay Area that a lot of people may see as our competitors. I would turn to those people and say ‘no, not really’. We want to enable our ultimate customers to be able to get their product out to market securely, and we would quite happily work with a lot of those “competitors” to do that; so we are always cooperating with more companies to make that message get out there.”
Again, I can’t say this enough; it is a delight to hear this coming from an IoT platform company. With so many platforms pushing their own proprietary hardware and software, it is refreshing to see that Zentri is looking at how they can partner with others in the ecosystem to create the most cost-effective and powerful solution to get their customers’ products connected and transmitting data securely.
Network and Security Standardization
On the topic of alliances, you cannot have a discussion with a platform provider without addressing the topic of standardization. Dutton acknowledged that because IoT is in its early infancy, they are actively pushing standards that they believe help move technology forward and touch a lot of spaces, as opposed to proprietary options. At an alliance level, they are working with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Zentri also has relationships with organizations for security standards, and makes use of TLS 1.2 and AES encryption standards. Dutton emphasized that though many view proprietary security standards as more secure because they are not as prevalent and can be easily overlooked, he argues that a standardized security is far more secure because people are constantly testing it and fixing it. He believes proprietary solutions will not succeed in IoT because IoT requires constant interaction.
At a time where many platform companies are trying to convince customers to use products from their proprietary ecosystem, it is refreshing to see Zentri take such a partner friendly approach. As I have mentioned on this blog many times, I believe once everything shakes out, the companies that acknowledge that they can benefit from utilizing solutions around them, will be the ones that make an impact in the Internet of Things space.
A big thanks to Julie and Nick for taking the time to share with me what Zentri is working on, and how their platform brings value to its customers. Zentri is certainly working on some exciting stuff!