In the last article, we looked at a relatively simple IoT stack that could be deployed for a specific application like monitoring and control of a single type of asset or pulling data for a specific application. But for IoT applications of larger scope, the solution becomes more complex. And one challenge that the IoT industry is still challenged with is the standardization that can make such complex systems easier to implement.
For the more complex applications, connecting multiple types of device, multiple customers with privacy and security needs, or for high volume applications we need more pieces of the architecture.
But as the market matures and the most effective use models become more apparent standardization also mature to simplify rolling out more comprehensive solutions. At the same time, as we see IoT grow, our use cases for IoT will also gain dimension and service providers and customers will want to deliver more and more functionality with IoT solutions and continue to drive, if not complexity, then depth.
There are a number of IoT standards emerging, some competing for mindshare, and some aimed at the different needs of different markets. All the IoT standards vary somewhat in terminology and focus, but, they provide good guidelines for platform deployment needs. Some of the standards that are seeing the most traction are:
- The Industrial Internet Consortium – This is a three tier architecture including Edge, Platform and Enterprise tiers. Key advocates of this standard are GE, AT&T, Cisco, IBM and Intel.
- The Open Connectivity Foundation (and iotivity.org) – This is a four tier architecture, including discovery , data transmission, device management, and data management. Key advocates of this effort at standardization are: Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, as well as Intel, GE and Cisco, playing both sides of the street.
- Open Interconnect, AllSeen – This standard is more Home Area Networking (HAN) focused, with less focus on back-end software, analytics, cloud connectivity and business intelligence. This standardization effort is more focused on making smart devices work together in the home for consumers. Microsoft, LG, Phillips, Electrolux, Qualcomm, Sharp and Sony are key members of this alliance, with Qualcomm a driving force.
- OneM2M Standard – This is a three tier architecture including Network Services, Common Services and Application Layers. This standard has a “telecom” heritage, with an associated detailed specification of device to device and software module to module interfaces. NEC, Nokia, InterDigital, Huawei, Tata and many others are members of this organization.
- Thread – Per the Thread homepage, “Thread was designed with one goal in mind: to create the very best way to connect and control products in the home.” One of thread’s main focus areas is the creation of a secure and reliable mesh to connect all devices in the home. While this is a much narrower approach to standardization, this is an important piece.
- Apple’s Homekit – While this is somewhat of a “closed standard” designed for consumers and to be used in conjunction with Apple solutions, it is worth mention because it will create a framework for product innovation as device providers work to integrate with Apple’s brand.
However, due to a good level of granularity the IoT World Forum Reference Model provides a good reference model to examine and understand the different layers of an “complete” end to end IoT solution. In the next section we will go through each layer and look at the functionality of that layer, issues to be managed, and deployment options.