Over the next few years, an estimated 30 to 50 billion smart devices are expected to hit the IoT and EoT markets, all connected to various systems. With each device having its own serial number and manual identity, network administrators face a daunting need for device management. The human capital necessary to support IoT requirements of this magnitude could significantly affect the industry’s ability to meet demands as IoT deployment ramps up.
Intel has developed a potential solution to this IoT deployment problem. They are calling it Intel Secure Device Onboard, and it involves a chip hardware-embedded with unique identification on each device. The chips, 2.7 billion of which are already enabled, are called Intel Enhanced Privacy ID (EPID). The potential of these chips is enormous, as they are enabled with minimum to zero touch device onboarding capability.
EPID functionality is activated when a new device is powered on and connected to the network, signalling to onboarding management systems the individual identification and launching enrollment into the network connectivity, starting communications with various systems. The manual portion of enrollment ends with powering on the device, enabling users and network administrators with immediate on-boarding, minus the potential for human error.
With the growing focus on IoT security and privacy concerns, an enormous advantage to this technology is the security it offers, with built in unique identifiers that can secure each individual device,preventing mass data breaches as well as one off hackers.
However, the EPID system is not without its disadvantages, the most obvious of which is the fact that the solution is currently exclusive to Intel. While other chip and equipment vendors and IoT platforms are anticipating open license capabilities, a large cohort of the industry is missing. ARM-based chip suppliers, such as Mediatek, Samsung, and Qualcomm are not currently anticipated to collaborate with this solution. The competitive marketplace inherent to IoT platform and equipment providers is such that the likelihood of such industry giants joining forces with Intel is questionable. For many of these vendors, modifications to their current design and production would be necessary to join forces with Intel. This remains a severely limiting factor, leaving EPID as a limited solution to a growing challenge of IoT deployment.
To summarize, Intel’s EPID system, while freely licensed, is not being widely adopted as an industry solution to the need for solid, no-touch EoT/IoT device onboarding. With the solid history of best practice industry standards Intel offers, there is hope for the EPID solution within IoT deployment challenges, especially given the need for rapid and smooth deployment and manageability. However, the option remains for competitors to attempt their own versions of EPID, and the future direction of this technology remains to be seen.