Direct to 3rd Party Server Integration - Considerations
Table of Contents
Device Manager (formerly OEM Server) is an important component of Digital Matter’s offering and allows partners to manage their devices over-the-air. By using Device Manager, we are best able to assist and support you and your devices.
If you are looking to configure your devices to use Direct to 3rd Party Server Mode to avoid any small ongoing monthly fee to Digital Matter, then please give the following careful consideration before making an informed decision.
By not utilising Device Manager, you understand the performance of your devices may be impacted, managing your devices will be more difficult, and in many cases our support team will be unable to assist you with debugging.
Device Manager for Configuration Only
If a device is set to Direct to 3rd Party Server Mode, then it can still connect back into Device Manager on an ad-hoc basis. However, the services and capabilities of Device Manager are limited to firmware and parameter updates only. Your device can be configured to connect back to Device Manager periodically or on instruction by your software.
Priority v Non-Priority Support
Customers that make paid use of Device Manager receive Priority Support as opposed to Non-Priority support from our technical teams.
All Digital Matter devices log additional device information that we call “debug messages.” These messages range from informational to critical messages about operations that the device is performing and are essential to monitor the health of your devices.
Device Manager logs, analyses, and displays these messages for you in an easy-to-use user interface. Device Manager also makes it easy to remotely adjust device logging levels to facilitate remote analysis of problem behaviour. You will lose this capability if you elect to use Direct to 3rd Party Server Mode unless you develop your own systems to perform similar functions.
Device Statistics and Monitoring
Digital Matter devices also log statistical information about the device performance. These counters provide valuable insights into the performance of the device and server-side analysis of this information is vital to identify possible issues before they result in problems or premature end-of-life for batteries.
Encryption and Authentication
Security is the top priority in Digital Matter products. Devices set to Direct to 3rd Party Server Mode can be configured to be cleartext or encrypted. If you want a properly secure data solution then you will need to configure devices to use encryption, and fully implement the encryption and authentication protocols and stack on your server software. This is not a trivial task to get right and requires developers with a high level of skill and experience.
Secure Key Management
The implementation of the secure device connection (authentication and encryption) on your own server requires the device keys to be installed and stored on your server in a secure manner. This requires some careful architecture and process design and implementation, in addition to the secure transportation of the keys into your server environment.
Digital Matter devices make use of an asynchronous message architecture that allows the server application to queue messages to be sent to devices in an intelligent and managed manner.
The messages that can be sent depend on the application, but two examples include setting recovery mode on stolen assets, or a message to remotely disable / immobilise an asset. If the device is currently connected to Device Manager, then the async message is delivered immediately, but if the device is offline the async message is queued for delivery the next time the device connects. If you elect to use Direct to 3rd Party Server Mode, you will not be able to use Device Manager’s Async Message architecture.
Devices communicate directly using our TCP protocol as opposed to having multiple options via Device Manager, including easy-to-integrate HTTPS JSON payloads. Using Device Manager your developers can have your system ingesting our device data in minutes, as opposed to the complexity of developing your own highly scalable TCP socket service capable of handling many thousands of simultaneous connections at scale. Please note that we do not provide code and are not able to assist with writing your code.
Firmware and Parameter Updates
Device Manager facilitates the upgrading of device firmware over the air. You will need to configure your devices to periodically check in with Device Manager to maintain any firmware or parameter updates.
GNSS Aiding Data
Our GNSS devices make use of special offline almanac and ephemeris data files that assist with the accuracy and time-to-first-fix (TTFF) of the devices. This data is not critical to the operation of the device but if the aiding data is not up to date, then the device will underperform, especially if it is operating in a concealed location or an urban canyon environment.
This is especially important for battery-powered devices as the TTFF has a direct impact on the battery life of the device and YOU WILL NOT GET OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY LIFE. The cost of sourcing and providing the aiding data is part of the Device Manager SaaS subscription.
Device Manager provides our Location Engine pipeline where certain device types rely on the server to perform a “data enrichment” process whereby device “raw” scan data is used to generate a location. Our Edge devices in particular use Location Engine to perform GNSS scan lookups, WiFi access point lookups, and cellular ID and timing data lookups using a range of different providers. You cannot use Direct to 3rd Party Server Mode with Location Engine.
Device Manager provides the architecture to manage the lists of permitted “drivers” for a device. These lists are used specifically for Driver Identification and to allow certain drivers to use certain assets. If you elect to use Direct to 3rd Part Server Mode, then you will not be able to use Device Manager’s Driver List architecture.
A simple but commonly used feature of Device Manager is the Installer Page, where installers can find information on the latest status of the device that they are installing including connectivity, GPS performance, ignition and the state of other inputs and interfaces. If you elect to use Direct to 3rd Party Server Mode, then you will not be able to use Digital Matter’s Installer Tools.
Continuous Improvement and New Features
Device Manager is continuously being improved and enhanced and undergoes regular penetration testing. Some initiatives include proactive monitoring of device statistics and debug logs to alert customers to possible configuration or installation problems that are impacting on performance and battery life, including the adoption of machine learning to analyse the device debug logs in real-time.