Tata and Micron simplify global IoT deployment

  • October 28, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson
Tri Pham, Tata Communications chief strategy officer

Micron Technology and Tata Communications are joining forces to create worldwide cellular-enabled connectivity that will simplify and accelerate large-scale global deployment of IoT devices.

This will be powered by a virtual SIM, said to be the world’s first cloud-based embedded subscriber identity module (eSIM), which offers a flexible, scalable alternative to conventional physical SIM cards.

The cloud-based eSIM will be enabled by Idaho-based Micron’s Authenta’s KMS key management service, the industry’s first silicon-based security-as-a-service (SecaaS) platform for edge devices.

With this technology, Tata’s Move global IoT offering will provide a pervasive, end-to-end option for zero-touch onboarding of connected IoT devices to cloud services across 200 countries and territories, backed by the company’s relationships with more than 600 mobile network operators worldwide.

This should unleash innovation in the expanding IoT services ecosystem, which is predicted to nearly triple in revenue by 2026 to $466bn, according to ABI Research.

“The business landscape we’re experiencing today is uncharted territory, one that is forcing organisations to be agile and adopt zero-touch, digital-first technologies and applications,” said Tata Communications chief strategy officer Tri Pham. “IoT can help businesses become more efficient and productive, and can also bring in new opportunities and innovations, enabling them to scale new levels of growth. Yet cyber security, seamless integration, and reliable, robust connectivity and global reach continue to remain key barriers to global enterprise adoption. By joining forces with Micron to reimagine edge connectivity and security, we will create a new paradigm that will rapidly accelerate and simplify IoT deployment.”

Tata Communications will offer a cloud-based eSIM for IoT, underpinned by Micron’s flash-based identity platform Authenta KMS. This will enable:

  • Scalable IoT security: In lieu of a physical SIM card to verify mobile identity, Authenta KMS provides device identities for the virtual SIM in the cloud, enabling secure, zero-touch device registration and onboarding to IoT services.
  • Seamless global connectivity: The SIM feeds IoT devices with secure borderless cellular-enabled connectivity anytime and anywhere, eliminating the complex management of physical SIM cards, localised operator contracts and roaming fees. This is beneficial for the industrial, infrastructure, automotive, aviation, and transport and logistics sectors that demand far-reaching, global connectivity for portable devices even in remote locations, unfettered by borders and close-range wifi networks. It will also allow enterprises to incorporate 5G into their IoT deployment strategies, taking advantage of 5G’s lower latency, higher capacity and faster data speeds.
  • On-demand cellular-enabled subscription: This approach to SIM technology enables just-in-time delivery of SIMs so users don’t have to subscribe to a monthly service until the connection is actually needed in the field. This just-in-time delivery reduces capital and operational expenditures, as compared with physical SIM cards that require activation of service contracts well before shipping.
  • Pay-as-you-go flexibility: Tata Communications Move platform enables pay-as-you-go service, instead of fixed monthly contracts. This is beneficial for those who don’t need always-on cellular-enabled connectivity, such as those combining wifi and mobile networks.

In simplifying flexible global connectivity, the edge-to-cloud should also unlock possibilities for innovation in the IoT market.

“The IoT ecosystem is at a tipping point,” said Kris Baxter, vice president at Micron. “While there is untapped business opportunity, current hardware security methods are too complex and costly, or they limit scalability and flexibility. With Tata Communications’ cloud-based virtual SIM, Micron’s Authenta edge security will bridge this gap, fostering enterprise IoT adoption and open innovation in IoT services.”

With physical SIM cards, OEMs must tightly pair device identity to the IoT service during manufacturing to prevent interaction of insecure devices and services, but this results in vendor lock-in. Authenta’s simple authentication decouples IoT service security needs from manufacturing flow by allowing late binding of third-party certificates.

This flexibility frees end users to access diverse, vendor-agnostic services securely, allowing them to customise and harness IoT devices as platforms for innovation, akin to the robust customisation of smartphones with mobile app stores today. Opening up the ecosystem, Micron and Tata Communications aim to empower the IoT services market to reach its full promise with a broader device footprint.

Through its silicon root of trust, Authenta provides protection for the lowest layers of IoT software. Starting with the boot process, Authenta uses strong cryptographic identity and security features baked natively into flash memory. To enable device compatibility with this new SIM, OEMs need only to install Authenta flash; no secure key injection or added secure elements are required.

Leveraging this root of trust, Micron’s cloud-based service Authenta KMS authenticates these IoT devices, allowing them to be activated and managed at the edge. This enables platform-hardening and device protection through the entire lifecycle, from manufacturing to installation. The ease of this security-as-a-service is particularly beneficial for traditional manufacturers making forays into connected devices for IoT use cases. With Authenta’s plug-and-play security, these OEMs, who lack cyber-security experience, can focus on their core competencies and rely on Micron’s embedded expertise to provide hardware security.

This cloud-based eSIM for IoT devices is slated to begin shipping in the first half of 2021.

Massachusetts-based cyber-security company Privafy is collaborating with Micron Technology to deliver turnkey IoT security. They aim to deliver seamlessly integrated SecaaS for OEM device manufacturers and service providers deploying connected products, from smart locks to self-driving cars.

At its heart is Privafy MicroEdge, an embedded software module that enables IoT devices equipped with Micron Authenta flash to leverage Privafy’s data-in-motion security capabilities. MicroEdge and Authenta together can protect and control traffic to and from the IoT device.

Privafy’s cloud-native SecaaS uses Authenta’s KMS to create a clone-proof endpoint authentication to onboard the device to a comprehensive list of services, including end-to-end secure connectivity, device lifecycle management and clustering, firewall malware detection, and distributed denial-of-service protection.

IoT product manufacturers can leverage this to manage credentials such as manufacturing, sales and service provisioning across their device ecosystem as well as secure connectivity from IoT devices to the IoT application workloads in public and private clouds.

“The collaboration with Micron delivers a full turnkey solution,” said Privafy’s chief strategy officer Sami Nassar. “Privafy’s cloud-native service will be able to recognise Micron Authenta flash and activate Authenta-MicroEdge services automatically. There’s no complex software to manage or updates to install; MicroEdge runs seamlessly in the background without adding latency to IoT communications and secures all data-in-motion as it passes between IoT devices and other endpoints.”

MicroEdge is the latest offering from Privafy’s suite of security products designed for the requirements of IoT devices. These requirements include a small embedded footprint, low power consumption, low latency, resilient communications and privacy.

“IoT service revenue is expected to grow to over $450bn annually by 2025 as billions of new IoT devices go online, and cyber criminals are already formulating new ways to compromise them,” said Amit Gattani, senior director of segment marketing at Micron. “Micron Authenta flash and KMS provide the security foundation and make it easy to onboard IoT devices to the cloud; now these devices will also have seamless access to Privafy’s MicroEdge suite of cyber-security services for full SecaaS. Privafy’s MicroEdge is the perfect example of how to deploy innovative IoT with device trust anchored in Authenta technology.”

Founded by specialists in the security and telecommunications sectors, Privafy is a privately held company headquartered just north of Boston in Burlington, Massachusetts.