07 Jan 2021

Smart sourcing of IoT solutions can optimize total cost of ownership

Using dedicated hardware to store secrets, certificates, and keys just tips the scales toward higher cost. It’s worth considering a counterbalanced solution.

Smart sourcing of IoT solutions can optimize total cost of ownership

Industrial IoT (IIoT) offers the unique ability to provide efficient, flexible, and critical control over operations and information, enabling the full-scale connectivity needed for everyday operations. While integration is at the heart of these efficiency gains, Industrial IoT applications are evolving by undergoing a paradigm shift from reliable to secure IoT systems.  Secure IoT solutions consist of many independent components including hardware, software, and even IoT cloud services. Selecting the right hardware can reduce the bill of material (BoM), cutting component costs. While a tailored IoT security infrastructure can minimize costs over time and provide the scalability that is crucial for growth.  

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Today’s procurement managers must strike the right balance and develop a strategic sourcing approach that optimizes the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the entire solution.  IoT devices are not only constrained in terms of memory space, but also in the number and size of the components in their BoM. For reliable IIoT systems to become secure IIoT systems, they need to be carefully designed to guard the integrity of the data stored locally on the device, also known as the data at rest. Adding a specialized trusted chip such as a TPM (trusted platform module) to securely store the artifacts used to authenticate the platform is certainly one option; however, using dedicated hardware to store secrets, certificates, and keys unfortunately just tips the scales toward higher cost. It’s worth considering a counterbalanced solution.


Optimizing TCO for your entire IoT solution means minimizing the device’s BoM cost while keeping its data safe. u-blox SARA-R5 LTE-M modules featuring IoT Security-as-a-Service let you protect sensitive information on the device without the need for a specialized trusted chip. With the Design Security package, your device can store sensitive information securely, even in non-secure locations such as its standard memory. Further, chip-to-chip security protects the communication between the device’s microcontroller and its cellular module, safeguarding the device from external attacks such as bus sniffing and data injection. In this way, Design Security simplifies the design of your device, protects your data at rest, and reduces cost.

SARA-R5 modules are based on the u blox UBX-R5 cellular chipset and the u blox M8 GNSS receiver chip. They are secure by design: each module has a unique and immutable identity based on a robust root of trust that forms the basis for a trusted set of advanced security functionalities, available as u-blox IoT Security-as-a-Service. By bringing all the technology building blocks in-house and having full hardware and software ownership with its SARA-R5 IoT modules and Thingstream IoT service delivery platform, u blox can guarantee long-term device availability and provide lifetime support of the entire platform, from silicon to cloud. The fact that the SARA-R5 is 5G-ready also means that customers will be able to software upgrade their deployed devices once 5G LTE has been rolled out by mobile operators, greatly improving end-product scalability and lifetime.

It’s a unique offering that is gaining recognition in the industry. u-blox SARA-R5 LTE-M modules with IoT Security-as-a-Service have been distinguished as a CES 2021 Innovation Awards Honoree. The CES Innovation Awards program, owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, is an annual competition honoring outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products across 28 product categories. An elite panel of industry expert judges, including members of the media, designers, engineers and more, reviewed submissions based on innovation, engineering, and functionality, aesthetic, and design.  The CES 2021 Innovation Awards Honorees, including product descriptions and photos, can be found at

With variants supporting integrated u-blox GNSS, NB-IoT and ultra-low power consumption, SARA-R5 is ideal for a wide range of IoT applications. Contact us to find out more about how smart sourcing of IoT solutions can optimize total cost of ownership.

Samuele Falcomer

Product Management Cellular, u-blox Italy

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