With a 20-year record of innovation in the wireless space Sierra Wireless has a long history in the M2M space and from launching the world’s first cellular embedded module back in 1997 it has now shipped in excess of 100 million devices connecting the Internet of Things and its devices operate on more than 80 networks worldwide.

As Emmanuel Walckanaer, SVP Cloud & Connectivity Services at Sierra Wireless explains, “The company is, and always has been, focused on providing technology leadership and developing innovative solutions that make wireless communications easier to integrate, deploy, and maintain.”

To that end Sierra Wireless unveiled an IoT Acceleration Platform, the industry’s first integrated service platform that combines cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) hardware, and managed connectivity services for worldwide deployments, earlier this year.

“Due to be released in the first quarter of 2016 this platform is unique. It has been designed to provide global multi-operator coverage by combining Sierra Wireless and third-party network operator SIMs, which can all be managed from a single unified connectivity platform,” he explains. “We have found that companies offering IoT products and services have pretty similar needs.”

The new IoT Acceleration Platform provides connectivity to the Google Cloud Platform and, as a result, customers will benefit from being able to access Google BigQuery, Google’s analytical service, with data collected from connected devices.

Google’s Cloud Platform is a set of modular cloud-based services and customers will be able to develop anything from a simple website to more complex applications. They can collect and store sensor data and use the tools provided to build customised analytics, big data, or IoT applications.

Organisations that are already operating on the Google Cloud Platform will be able to integrate existing applications and services quickly and more easily.

“The platform is pre-connected, so the process of doing this has been simplified. As a consequence the resulting applications are more flexible and scalable and will be able to support future growth,” Walckanaer explains.

“Our intention is to provide customers with a comprehensive end-to-end solution that helps them to manage connectivity,” he says. “Our aim is to vastly simplify the sourcing, management, and administration of multi-region IoT deployments.”

The IoT is radically changing the digital and physical landscape but, crucially, “It is vital that we reduce the complexity in building and deploying IoT connectivity solutions,” according to Walckanaer. He continues, “Our IoT Acceleration Platform is designed to empower customer innovation and get IoT solutions to market faster with the ability to scale and grow quickly. Ours is a simple strategy – providing customers with a complete device to cloud offer.”

Recent research from Gartner suggests that the demand for connected devices will surge to one trillion by 2040. Additional research further indicates that there will be $166bn invested in the IoT industry by 2020 with 20bn IoT devices coming online.

According to Walckenaer, however, the true potential of the IoT will only be achieved “if there is interoperability and convergence between multiple technologies and ecosystems. That’s why everything that we have done this year from the IoT Acceleration Platform to Project mangOH is driven by the need to enhance flexibility and expandability.”

Project mangOH is an open source hardware reference design that has been created to enable IoT developers with limited wireless, hardware, or low level software expertise to develop applications in a short period of time.

According to Walckenaer it is both low cost and flexible and provides access to the company’s AirVantage cloud services.

“That flexibility comes from the CF3 Snap In sockets that support any next-generation WP or HL Series. A developer will be able, as a result, to choose what cellular modules to use based on the end customer needs as well as regional cellular requirements.”

A significant benefit is that these IoT modules can not only be used for prototyping but can also be used in production.

Sierras Wireless operates across a number of key IoT segments including automotive and transport, energy and industrial, the enterprise space and residential and healthcare and it is well positioned to spot market trends.

“The IoT market is certainly more mature and what we are seeing is larger data consumption on one side and the need for more frugal data collection and lower power on the other,” Walckanaer says.

“There has been a real surge in the demand for IoT enabled devices and platforms but with seven different technologies vying for position it’s a challenging market” he continues.

“In automotive, for sure, we are seeing a rapid take-up. This is a key market as it will help to drive volumes. But beyond automotive transport in general is proving a very active market – whether that is managing fuel consumption, vehicle tracking or the optimisation of routes. There is a pretty strong business case to support IoT.”

What is true of all markets though is that business models are changing and Walckanaer believes that, “the subscription economy will change everything.”

He also warns that it is crucial to have the right technology in place if an IoT project is to succeed.

“You need a solid IT team because while you may be able to buy in the modules, gateway devices and servers, when it comes to actually building a working network it’s complicated - you will need to be an expert in the three key building blocks: hardware, telecoms and IT. Even our more experienced customers are backing away from this, focusing on the application development.”

He concludes, “It is vital that you are able to provide a joined up approach and while we may be a small player I think we have developed an understanding of those three key elements that few of our competitors are able to match.”


Emmanuel Walckenaer is responsible for the Sierra Wireless Enterprise Solutions business. He joined Sierra Wireless in March 2009 from Wavecom, where he had served as Vice President of Intelligent Device Services from 2007 to 2009. A ten-year career at Gemplus (now Gemalto), saw him create the Over-the-Air software offering complete with a support hotline and training unit. He also headed up the EMEA wireless service branch and set up the North and South American Gemplus service organisations to support both telecom and ID Security. Prior to Gemplus, Emmanuel held various positions in IT, marketing, and business development at Esso.