Software and hardware vendors are developing proprietary products and technologies to tap into the massive potential business opportunity with Internet of Things (IoT). While most of the noise is around consumer driven IoT, commercial applications for IoT are making huge financial impact in many verticals. Buildings alone account for 40% of world’s energy consumption – extrapolate this with number of disparate devices at a smart city level and this becomes gigantic.
A smart city project might include connectivity of homes, soda machines, parking lots, commercial buildings, security cameras, traffic systems etc, it is impractical to think that the infrastructure and devices across the city will be homogeneous. This really is a multi-vendor, multi-protocol and big data play and will require software and hardware platform technologies that are ‘Open’ and able to integrate disparate devices and deliver analytics and control over remote devices.
As IoT is gaining momentum there are startups and established companies entering the IoT arena with new platform technologies. While having more options for products and services can be good, it can also be confusing and can make it very difficult to select the right technology needed to build a strong IoT solution. If you know your IoT goals, selecting the right foundational platform technology is very important. You will need to keep an ‘open’ mind and look for some of the following tenets:
Open IoT platform technologies can help you normalize data from legacy proprietary and new edge devices, build applications and integrate with 3rd party systems as and when you need without having to replace the platform or infrastructure. APIs play a critical role here – look for published open APIs for your developers. Even Microsoft has announced support for open technologies such as supporting Linux Operating System or Cloud Foundry Platform as a Service (PaaS) on its Azure platform.
If you have the choice, besides evaluating pros and cons of existing vs new platforms in your labs, evaluate established “real” IoT operational case studies. See how long these systems have been running and how customers have benefited over multiple years. IoT systems should be designed for prolonged and sustained benefits.
With Android and iOS, we all know the power of an application ecosystem. You want to be able to have choice. Select a platform that has a developer community around the technology. If you have the developer mindshare, your customers will be able to access cool applications for their operational use.
Although scalability depends on your business needs, I recommend selecting a platform that can scale from the edge to the cloud. Learning, managing and developing applications on multiple platforms is hard and cost-prohibitive. If your business serves a large and complex IoT infrastructure, you should plan for the millions of devices that are going to get connected to the web over the next several years.
I hope the above is useful in your IoT journey. I would love to hear how you are using or considering open technologies for IoT or otherwise. If you are not, I am sure there is a reason and it will be great for readers to learn why.