The Internet of Things (IoT) concept is one of the leading trends in software development. And if previously its practical application was mainly in logistics and manufacturing, today the coverage of IoT is much wider (as indicated by research on statistics and growth trends of the total number of devices). Applications for smart houses, life support control in medical centers, management of video surveillance systems – these are just some of the areas where this technology is implemented. In order to facilitate the creation of such software and to concentrate the main efforts of developers on the development of business logic (instead of wasting time writing code to collect, transfer and sort the data received from IoT equipment), ready-made platforms are often used. In this article, we will review the six cloud-based IoT platforms that are the most popular in 2018.
Cloud-based IoT Platforms
Now, let us get down to the pros and cons of the six most popular advanced cloud-based IoT platforms.
This Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) product of Microsoft is part of the Azure Cloud Computing platform. Azure IoT includes a concentrator, a machine learning system, and is extensively compatible, supporting devices with a wide variety of technical specifications and operating environments. Developers choose Azure for its capabilities to backup data, automatic recovery of worker threads, predisposition to simplify the creation of efficient and scalable software with complex business logic, high security guaranteed by following the “Detect, Assess, Diagnose, Stabilize, and Close” scheme, and comprehensive accessibility (the average downtime of applications running on this platform does not exceed 4.5 hours per year). In turn, the main and perhaps the only objective drawback of this platform is the need for highly trained technical support staff (due to the “binding” of created apps to the cloud, system administrators must have the skills to manage complex server infrastructures).
Microsoft Azure serves as the basis for the automation of work processes in companies such as Rolls Royce (to optimize the performance of their engines), ThyssenKrupp (for the creation of elevator maintenance systems), and Hershey (in the production of linear actuators).
Oracle IoT, based on three principles – device-agnostic, real-time analytics, and integration with Oracle PaaS – is one of the most famous cloud-based IoT platforms and can be used for a wide variety of applications. Any scale of software is supported, from small programs up to those intended for data collection from hundreds of thousands of devices. Among the main advantages of this platform are seamless integration with Oracle Database and Oracle MySQL (thanks to this, Oracle IoT can manage huge amounts of information), the presence of built-in tools for e-commerce (such as Oracle Billing and Revenue Management), compatibility with Java, and the availability of serious security mechanisms (machine learning-based forecasting, Oracle Database Security, Advanced Security and Identity, Access Management). The major disadvantage of this solution is sufficiently high input threshold.
The AWS platform has helped implement the IoT solutions of 3M Health Information Systems (to create medical device management applications), 6waves Limited (for social games), and 9Splay (to increase the availability of mobile games), among others.
IBM Watson, which is one of the most powerful cloud-based IoT platforms, is favored by many for its accessible and intuitive graphical interface and its advanced remote configuration capabilities of connected equipment (in particular, you can update firmware, change settings, reboot – all without the need to stop the workflows in your application). IBM Watson also provides data transfer through the secure TLS protocol, which is a more advanced version of SSL. It is also important to note the seamless integration with IBM Bluemix, which allows deploying applications directly in the cloud; this is sometimes the only way to successfully run IoT-based apps over low-speed networks. The shortcomings of this solution can be attributed to the high cost of the services and difficulties in processing structured data.
IBM Watson has helped solve problems with the organization of the elevator management system for Kone, served as the basis for the creation of the workplace management system to streamline facility planning for Dow Chemical, and is the main tool enabling Harman to provide a completely new level of customer service in hotels.
The Kaa open source solution, based on Apache License 2.0, is an ideal choice for developers who are just starting out in the IoT software sphere. Kaa is characterized by its low cost (you pay only for technical support of your software solutions), comprehensive integration with third-party software, the ability to update devices in real time, the absence of a single point of failure, and support for applications in four existing formats: on-premise, hybrid, hosted, and cloud. Disadvantages of Kaa include the inability to deploy applications based on the commercial PaaS model and its relatively high minimum requirements for connected equipment (10 KB RAM and 40 KB ROM).
Customized IoT Platforms: A Way to Create Cost-effective Solutions from Scratch
Some vendors do not create IoT solutions based on well-known platforms. Instead, they develop their own customized systems, the functionality and capabilities of which are rigorously tailored to a specific project. In addition, the rate of return on investment with this approach is much greater, since business owners do not have to pay for excess functions. Anyway, such platforms are extremely popular and ideal for those who want to “squeeze” into the lowest possible budget. A particular case of this solution is Cirrent WCM, which will be discussed below.
Cirrent WCM is a relatively “young” solution based on Linux by the renowned Cirrent vendor. This platform allows you to easily connect your devices to a wireless network (and track their connectivity, even when access passwords are changed), thereby organizing physically remote channels to transfer and collect data into a uniform network. Using Cirrent WCM, you can create your own software product at a cost that is several times lower than what commercial services can offer.
The Internet of Things concept is a serious step forward in automating daily tasks that a person previously had to perform manually. Due to the accelerated data processing provided by the interconnection between data transmission networks and IoT devices, a new category of software has emerged that is characterized by increased fault tolerance, maximum availability, and comprehensive compatibility. In turn, cloud-based IoT platforms often serve as reliable assistants in the creation of IoT applications. We have described here the top six – which solution to choose is up to you.
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