Axonize, an Israeli start-up now headquartered in Bonn, Germany, is one of several start-ups addressing the fast-expanding field of IoT software development platforms – designed to ease and accelerate application development. Founded in 2016 with $7.8mn funding raised so far, it has been faster off the blocks than some of its competitors partly because it arrived at the right time, when demand for IoT development services was ramping up, while rivals had struggled earlier to gain traction.
The firm’s ability to get smaller projects that demonstrate ROI up and running quickly has helped amass an impressive range of big-name customers in a short time, with Singaporean telco SingTel and Australia’s Optus latest to sign up in November 2018. They join Broadcom, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and Dell as high-profile customers which are also partners in most cases either as suppliers of components are joint projects for their clients.
Microsoft became involved as a result of Axonize’s original decision to build its managed IoT orchestration services around its Azure cloud platform for delivery on a SaaS (Software as a Service) basis. It used open source technologies on top, such as Apache Storm, Redis caching, Elasticsearch, HDInsight, and MongoDB database, in order to minimize the amount of time taken to build infrastructure components that were often already available and just needed tweaking for given use cases. The aim was to enable IoT service providers to build frameworks they can apply to every IoT project they deliver with the minimum of effort, according to Donna Perlstein, Axonize Head of Marketing.
“We have achieved this in that we have developed technology that enables service providers to launch full-fledged IoT projects across all industries and business types, with any system, sensor or protocol, in just a matter of days with no need for development on their end,” said Perlstein. “They can simply customize each project, rather than develop code each time. This enables greater flexibility and scalability and ensures a quick return on their investment as they can start with one business or set of devices, see returns and then scale quickly from there.”
The Microsoft connection helped attract Deutsche Telekom as both customer and partner, according to Ingo Hofacker, SVP of IoT at its IT services subsidiary T-Systems. “We built our strategy on the cloud platform Azure and with Axonize worked to bring forward the most important use cases,” said Hofacker. “We picked a sensor as a challenge for them, we described the use case and the team was able to build a platform in two hours.” This demonstration led to Deutsche Telekom choosing Axonize as a partner for IoT development.
The main challenges lie in maintaining the lead the company perceives it has in ease and speed of back end IoT software development and build on this by adding features to help address some of the business challenges customers face. Perlstein cited Thingworx of the US and Germany’s Cumulocity as competitors that Axonize encounters frequently in the field. These companies have a similar message about starting small and scaling up rather than attempting to enter the IoT with a big bang, noting that over 50% of IoT projects fail largely for this reason.
Axonize succeeded in gaining Telus and Optus as customers partly through its quick-start IoT bundles, which provide guidance for development of specific IoT applications, starting with the business case and proceeding through recommended sensors, required connectivity, hosting, third party integrations and estimated implementation time. According to Axonize, these help operators’ sales teams in turn offer complete packages based on the unique needs of their customers.