Service Costs, etc.?

This question was raised in the comments section on the Sparkfun product page for the electric imp.

I’d be afraid tonuse[sic] one for fear that they’ll change their minds on the planner service pricing and I’ll be out of luck and unable to program my imps!

That’s something that hasn’t been clearly established - or at least clearly mentioned. Will ei eventually charge to use the service? From a business standpoint, I don’t see how the hardware pays for the service. Not having some kind of recurring revenue is usually a recipe for quick extinction.

I just hope this isn’t a “startup” whose sole intention is to eventually be bought out to make a quick buck. While I have no moral objections to that type of business model, I hope we early adapters aren’t being sold on something that we didn’t intend to partake in.

Yes, we will charge for the service when it’s “ready”, as you say the hardware doesn’t pay for an ongoing service that we intend to run for a long, long time into the future. However, “developer edition” cards will continue to be free to use as a thank-you to the people who have taken the time to try them out at this early stage.

Service pricing will be published soon, but it’s in the “small number of cents per month” bracket for M2M applications.

Hugo, thanks for the info! I’m guessing that might have been a question in the back of a few people’s mind.

I’m glad to hear that that EI is here for the long haul, that provides a sense of relief, honestly.

As an m2m solution designer, I was very excited about the imp: finally an “easy” way to connect my customer’s devices. However, having to proxy the telemetry data through a third-party service is a deal killer for me and my clients.

From your comments, it doesn’t sound like you’ll be allowing direct connectivity to private servers?

No, we are not allowing direct connectivity; everything goes through our service.

Part of the “making it easy” bit involves how updates are sent to cards, the vendor dashboard that indicates all the online devices, software versions, trouble reports and full control over rollout of new vendor firmware. That and being able to queue messages for offline devices.

If you want direct connectivity, plenty of solutions have existed for many years that enable that… however, you’re then on your own as far as configuration, software updates, etc are concerned.

Hugo, One option is to split the connectivity into two parts

  1. Device Management (configuration, software updates,…)
  2. Data collected from the hw

You could then allow direct connectivity of the user data while still manage the device.
I have seen this model work quite well and would help people who see current solution as a “deal killer”.

There will be an enterprise server option; it’s on our roadmap for late next year. That will allow the separation that some people - especially enterprises - are after. We have other enterprise-specific things on our roadmap, like 802.1x support too.

Hugo, thank you for the answer. I understand the approach and reasons for routing all data through your service.

From my end, as an m2m contractor, I mostly deal with “traditional” hardware mfg. who want to bring their devices to the “cloud” not only because their customers are demanding connectivity, but mostly because they do see the value-added and potential revenue stream they can derive from it.

As a result, they typically don’t want to share with a third-party and if they do, it’ll only be temporarily until they get their own dedicated/specialized service running. It’s going to be a hard sale for me to convince managers to get an imp into their production devices.

I think many of them will end up balking at the work required to build a proper service - when they could be spending their resources on making their products better.

Our service is very good value :slight_smile:

yes I agree the hidden cost in managing a 24/7 real-time backend is beyond most “traditional” hw mfg/provider. For one, I’m definitely interested in the imp-enterprise.

Will the enterprise Server a stand alone software, so i could use the Imp then with the enterprise server and without a internetconnection ?
This will be great, because we then could use the imp in production environment where the users didn’t accept a internetconnection
What are the requirements for such a enterprise server and what will be the cost ?

We’ve not yet determined the requirements (it may be a custom 1U server), or the cost - this is still over a year away. Contact if you would like to discuss your requirements.

Hugo your response sound like a pr guy not someone helping people address issues. I don’t know what kind of clients are being discussed here but I have even very small clients on small 20k projects that are unwilling to pass their information through your service. I have one that would rather use a full linux on Raspberry Pi, have proper SSL, and not rely on a service that to be honest, has not been around that long. I am really quite confused how this is gaining as much adoption as it is. I just purchased one because I need your low power consumption in something that MUST be battery powered but this is ridiculous from a security stand point. You aren’t google, no one trusts you guys enough yet to run potentially private information through you.

I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m afraid plenty of people trust us enough to run data through the imp cloud service. This year, we are shipping well over 300,000 imps to customers who are quite happy with using our service, and see the service provision as a huge (and critical) upside to their applications. Customer’s data is obviously subject to our privacy policy and terms of service - we do not mine or log this data.

Obviously, if data being routed through our service is not acceptable to your clients then you need to pick another solution. We have never claimed to be the perfect solution for every application.

I too like the setup, assuming the price is right and im not passing critical/sensitive data.

Hugo, is the service cost published somewhere or still tbd?

Service costs are available by emailing; the most it costs is ~$3 per year, and this decreases significantly in volume.

Is there a SLA (Service Level Agreement) that sets forth a commitment to a certain level of “availability”? What are the redundancies (in general terms) of servers, co-lo’s and switchover in the event of server failure? I’m looking into an alarm-related project and before I implement, I want to have some level of confidence in how the server-side is designed and projected.

When your company is young, it is pretty easy to use a single POP and get away with it. But as you grow and have server outages, it is important for us, as developers, to understand that there is some resiliency built in to your side.

And, God forbid, if Electric Imp, Inc. fails financially, what is in place that would allow the service to persist?

We can offer an SLA, contact us for more details.

As for precise details of our setup, this is not public information. Right now we are in a single center with live replication to a second, but a lot more redundancy is coming in the very near future. Imps can fail across multiple providers and datacenters by design.

I’m afraid we can’t give assurances about what happens if we financially fail; there’s pretty much nothing we can say or assure that can’t be overridden by a bankruptcy court (escrow release included). Seems strange as this would appear to be what escrow is designed for, but legal advice says otherwise.

On the other hand, we’re doing rather well right now, with many many thousands of consumer products based on the imp being sold into a fast-growing market.


Is that ~$3 per device per year? Is there anyway for me to pass this on to my customers (in case I am not around to pay that bill in 15 years, like most startups probably won’t be)?