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As the Internet of Things begins to revolutionize businesses, economies and our society, IoT platforms are coming up being the core basis in the overall IoT infrastructure. IoT platforms, in simple words, are just about connecting the sensors to data networks and integrating with back-end applications to provide insight into huge volumes of data.

However developing for the Internet of Things is a complicated undertaking, and almost nobody chooses to do it from scratch. IoT data platforms provide a starting point by integrating many of the tools needed to operate a deployment from device control to data prediction and grasp into one service. Ready-built IoT platforms can meet the needs of any company and smoothly accommodate constant growth and change. In the light of the possibilities offered by IoT, many high tech companies started taking advantage of it. For the time being there are more than 300 hundred various IoT platforms on the market and the number is continuing to grow. So, let’s see what features of IoT platforms take into consideration while choosing one for your business.

Before selecting an appropriate solution which may be suitable for your organization, you must determine:

1. Three different types of IoT platforms. Here they are listed from most complex to least complex:

  • Application enablement and development (AEP/ADP): This encompasses platforms that offer modules, widget-based frameworks or templates for producing (with minimal or no coding) actual end-user applications. These platforms are capable of turning data into either intelligence or action very quickly. The vivid examples of such platforms are Oracle, ThingWorx and etc.
  • Network/Data, and subscriber management (NM): In the wireless carrier and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) space, this kind of platforms try to streamline connecting cellular M2M data, so you don’t have to build much of the data infrastructure behind it. For instance Cisco and Aeris do network management as well as device management, while Jasper and Wyless do more sheer network management.
  • Device management (DM): These platforms are more about monitoring device statuses, troubleshooting issues, configuring embedded device settings and administrating the provisioning and health of the endpoints. Usually in the IoT space this fairly elementary software is provided by hardware vendors. Like both Digi and Intel provide pure device cloud management.

While these platforms can be found as distinct standalone products, it is becoming increasingly common to find vendors that combine two or all three types in a single offering.

2. Implementation, integration support and device management. Device management is one of the most significant features expected from any IoT software platform. The IoT platform should maintain a number of devices connected to it and track their proper operation status; it should be able to handle configuration, firmware (or any other software) updates and provide device level error reporting and error handling. Ultimately, users of the devices should be able to get individual device level statistics.

To make implementation smooth, the provider should possess convincing manuals, blogs and feasibly lively developer-community around the IoT platform.

Support for integration is another vital feature expected from an IoT software platform. The API should provide the access to the important operations and data that needs to be disclosed from the IoT platform. It’s typical to use REST APIs to achieve this aim.

3. Comprehensive Information Security. There are four main technological building blocks of IoT: hardware, communication, software backend and applications. It’s essential that for all these blocks security is a must-have element. To prevent the vulnerabilities on all levels, the IoT infrastructure has to be holistically designed. On the whole, the network connection between the IoT devices and the IoT software platform would need to be encrypted and protected with a strong encryption mechanism to avoid potential attacks. By means of separation of IoT traffic into private networks, strong information security at the cloud application level, requiring regular password updates and supporting updateable firmware by way of authentication, signed software updates and so on can be pursued to enhance the level of security present in an IoT software platform. Nonetheless while security ought to be scalable, it is unfortunately usually a trade-off with convenience, quick workflows and project cost.

4. Flexible Database. There are four major “V” for databases in IoT space:

  • Volume (the database should be able to store massive amount of generated data)
  • Variety (the database should be able to handle different kind of data produced by various devices and sensors)
  • Velocity (the database should be able to make instant decisions while analyzing streaming data)
  • Veracity ( the database should be able to deal with ambiguous data in some cases produced by sensors)

Therefore an IoT platform usually comes with a cloud-based database solution, which is distributed across various sensor nodes.

5. Data analytics.

A lot of IoT cases go beyond just action management and require complicated analytics in order to get the most out of the IoT data-stream. There are four types of analytics which can be conducted on IoT data:

  • Real-time analytics (on the fly analysis of data),
  • Batch analytics (runs operations on an accumulated set of data),
  • Predictive analytics (makes predictions based on different statistical and machine learning technologies)
  • Interactive analytics (runs numerous exploratory analysis on either streaming or batch data)

While choosing the right IoT platform, it’s better to keep in mind that the analytics engine should comprise all dynamic calculations of sensor data, starting from basic data clustering to complex machine learning.

6. Pricing and the budget. The IoT platform market features a diversity of pricing methodologies underlying various business strategies. And sometimes providers’ costs aren’t always transparent. Thus it’s very important to check out all the nuances of your provider’s pricing pattern, so you are not plainly bought into introductory teaser rates or into the prices for the base model.

Further you should bear in mind that you licensing cost for the chosen platform is just the beginning. The major expense can turn out to be the integration itself, as well as hiring consultants (if you are not able to do it on your own) to support the system.

Therefore, it’s extremely vital to brainstorm what your entire IoT system will look like at scale and choose which features are most critical to you chiefly — and only afterwards decide what sort of platform you need.

A lot of companies do this backward. They get the IoT platform and believe they’re getting the complete necessary solution—then realize the mistake half a year into development. Thus it’s critical to be aware of this before you get started.

Also it should be mentioned that some companies don’t use IoT platforms—they’re developing their own platforms in-house. Yet, depending on how you want to go to market, it may be clever to research pre-built options. Depending on your situation, you may save a lot of time and money by partnering with one of these platforms.

Have you ever faced the difficulties of choosing the IoT platform for your business? If yes, can you please let me know what kind of difficulties? And what do you think is it better to use a ready-built IoT platform or develop your own from the scratch? Looking forward to getting your ideas and comments.

 

Anastasiya Zakharchuk

Anastasiya Zakharchuk

Business Development Manager

E-mail: anastasiya.presnetsova@altabel.com
Skype: azakharchuk1
LI Profile: Anastasiya Zakharchuk

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

It is expected that within the next 5-7 years there will be billions of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). However, on the way to this bright future, there are certain practical barriers.

The traditional model of the Internet of Things requires a centralized system for data processing, which handles all the data from connected devices. Nevertheless, this approach is seriously flawed in terms of cost of lifecycle and business model in general. For example, a company that produces “smart TVs” should support a centralized processing infrastructure and data management of the device for more than 20 years. While it earns revenues only once, when selling this device. This imposes restrictions on the Internet of Things. So far it is available only in the premium devices or those that are rarely used.

Nowadays, most of the IT companies are competing in invention IoT platforms and systems.

IBM: Adept

IBM’s solution is to use the web’s most innovative p2p technologies to create distributed cloud environment which means that all the devices will be integrated together. Thus, every device will be self-sufficient for managing and will use distributed public infrastructure to communicate with other devices. In this way, producing company won’t have recurring costs in maintenance. Such a system will be stable for the lifetime of the devices, and it will be equal to its clouds. The network will be fully autonomous, while the device remains in it, without requiring the cost from producer. However, centralized control becomes almost impossible with all the potential billions of devices on the network.

Their system Adept will rely on three different technologies to resolve a number of issues related to IoT development and commercialization: Block chain, famous from the crypto currency bitcoin, will allow IoT devices to communicate and interact with one another, BitTorrent (provides a stable and capable data distribution system ) and Telehash (private messaging protocol with end-to-end encryption).

Apple: Homekit

Apple is not idle in the IoT field. They introduced a new ‘smart home’ platform – Homekit this summer (2014).

Homekit is a framework and network protocol for controlling devices in the home. It promises a seamless user interface for organizing and controlling connected devices, all part of iOS 8. As part of this announcement there is also a new microcontroller SoC (system on a chip), containing a low-power WiFi, ZigBee and Bluetooth. It combines what had been separate components into a fully integrated unit. As with many other Apple products you will need a certificate, in this case Apple’s MFi certification (Made for iPod, Made for iPhone, Made for iPad).

Google: Nest

In January 2014, Google showed its commitment to the emerging Internet of Things by purchasing Nest for $3.2 billion. Nest’s main product is a learning thermostat connected to the internet that uses sensors, regional data, and learning algorithms to preemptively change the temperature of your house automatically. Thus, Google gains a direct entry point into the home to collect data, learn, and possibly advertise to end users in the future. Google’s purchase of Nest was considered an important indicator that the Internet of Things is poised to explode.

Microsoft: Windows 8.1 for IoT

Microsoft does not want to be left behind and has its own plan to bring Windows Developers to the Internet of Things with its new version of Windows 8.1 – operating system tailored for the Internet of Things. This version of Windows is designed to use in microcomputers, wearable electronics, and possibly, toys and household gadgets. At this point the preliminary version is only available to developers. Windows 8.1 distribution for the Internet of things weighs only 174 MB. For comparison, the size distribution of the full version of Windows 8.1 is around 3 GB. Slim enough to work on a single-core processor Intel Quark with a clock frequency of just 400 MHz. But the boot time is poor – 2 minutes instead of the traditional 3-30 seconds.

Intel: Galileo

The first platform that is compatible with Windows 8.1 for the Internet of Things is Intel’s Galileo. It is built around a processor, Intel Quark has 256 MB of RAM, a slot for cards format SD, two ports USB, PCI Express interface and a network adapter Ethernet 10/100 Mbit / s, and a pocket friendly price of just $ 50.

Samsung: Smartthings, Smart Home

Samsung, Intel and Dell announced in July 2014 that they are combining forces to create a new wireless standard for the Internet of Things, connecting sensors, appliances and gadgets to the Internet in the home, business and automobile. The Open Internet Consortium will include hardware component builders Broadcom and Amtel as well as embedded software provider Wind River.

Also it would be unfair not to mention the fact that Samsung has bought an internet of things (IoT) company called Smartthings (the startup that makes smart-home controllers) for about $200 million. Samsung is planning to use it to bolster its smart home plans. Smartthings will run as an independent entity within Samsung, and will continue to support its existing customer base. This system provides a smartphone app that users can employ to control features and functions around the house.

Smart Home platform will provide users with three main services: Device Control, Home View, and Smart Customer Service. Device Control will allow users to access customized settings for all of their devices on their smartphone or on their Smart TV. Home View allows users to take advantage of the cameras built into many of Samsung’s connected appliances to take a look at what’s going on at home. Smart Customer Service will notify users whenever it’s time to service an appliance, and also provide assistance in after-sales servicing.

Other companies such as Vodafone, Cisco, MediaTek, etc are also a part of this great revolution in IT environment, and most of them have very prospective projects.

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IoT Top10 Companies

Nevertheless, one should accept that the Internet of Things requires some technical and educational level from the society, and while in some countries this seems to be difficult to put it into practice, the Scandinavian region, more specifically – Sweden, invests in such projects at the national level. The vision of its industry is to increase competitiveness and to use innovation effectively in such social spheres as healthcare, welfare and sport. Business life is focused on getting benefits by implementation of IoT technology as well.

The connected world is too big to belong to somebody exclusively. So will Apple, Windows, IBM, Oracle, Google and others be able to all work together in this IoT universe? Or will the grand idea of a seamlessly connected Internet of Things environment slip away?

Will be thankful to hear your opinion on this subject. Share your thoughts here in comments or send me a message.

 

Svetlana Pozdnyakova

Business Development Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Software-defined networking (SDN) is a hot, much debated topic and although still in its infancy, it offers the potential to transform how complex networks work. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s only yet more industry hype, the era of Software Defined Everything is already upon us. Software is being applied to everything from servers, storage, data centres, right through to arguably the most ground-breaking piece of the jigsaw – the Wide Area Network.

SDN changes the way companies build their IT environments by essentially moving the “control plane” of the network away from each individual device in the network to a central controller that works with all the devices, both virtual and physical. This allows for a single controller to configure or manage the complete network, as opposed to each device managing its own functionality and being programmed individually. The technology has huge benefits for businesses, including reducing IT expenditure and enabling changes to the network quickly and easily.

The importance of the network

SDN deployments are still very limited and at their early stages of development. This is due in part to the fact that today’s corporate networks use open standards such as the IP protocol and Ethernet connectivity, but configuring the networks themselves often requires lots of manual tasks because each device on the network has separate policies and consoles. Making significant changes in the network – even with existing hardware – can be time-consuming, potentially taking a week or two. With the move towards server virtualisation and cloud computing, this has become even more complex.

With this in mind, it is no surprise that SDN is making its way to centre stage. SDN is being tackled from all sides of the ecosystem, from virtualisation vendors like VMWare to the traditional networking providers like Cisco. Not only is it going to fundamentally change the business models of the networking and server industries, but it is also going to escalate the importance of the network.

The value that SDN poses for businesses is immense. It holds greater potential for productivity increases from IT than any other development because of the way it acts as a unifying force between disparate elements – computing, networking, virtualisation, information, and business logic. There’s no doubt that SDN will be a disruptive force across cloud, carrier and enterprise networks, likely in that order. The natural progression of turning hardware into software will result in re-architected networks, data centres and infrastructures.

What the future holds

The integration of everything into the network will become a no-brainer in the coming year and this will essentially transform the network into the epicenter of ICT services. While no one can predict the SDN end-game, we are at the cusp of a revolution in the way global networks are designed, built, and managed.

By providing more real-time intelligence and deep application integration SDN is going to enable enterprises to realise innovation earlier with applications rolled out in hours instead of weeks. Organisations will achieve never-before-seen levels of agility while reducing both capital and operational overhead to the lowest levels ever delivered in enterprise solutions.

As a platform, SDN provides the potential to drive the next generation of IT services. Early high visibility adopters like Google and the recent significant increase in VC funding into the SDN area is fuelling momentum and the emergence of the era of Software Defined Everything looks set to change the power of the network for good. Organisations should be looking very seriously at how SDN can benefit their businesses before their competitors get there first.

 

Kristina Kozlova

Marketing Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com


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