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Building an IOT Platform: The Device Discovery Service

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This is the second of a series of blog posts about the main building blocks of an IOT platform. As mentioned before, the capabilities of an IOT platform can be classified in two main groups: centralized and decentralized. At a high level, the following figure illustrates some of the fundamental features of an IOT platform:

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In this blog post we will cover one of the fundamental capabilities of a centralized IOT topology: the device discovery service.

What Is It?

The device discovery service abstracts the dynamic registration and de-registration of smart devices in an IOT topology. This service keeps a up to date directory of devices in an IOT network.

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Key Capabilities

The device discovery service should enable some of the following key capabilities:

  • Registering a Smart Device: This capability should enable the dynamic registration of a smart device in an IOT topology. With the registration, the device should communicate relevant information such as capabilities, SLAs, etc.
  • De-Registering a Smart Device: This capability should facilitate removing a smart device from an IOT topology.
  • Device Discovery Queries: This capability should facilitate the inspection of devices in an IOT topology via queries.

How to Implement it?

There are several technologies available in the market that can facilitate the implementation of device discovery capabilities in an IOT solution. The most important aspect of implementing such a capability is the fact that devices should dynamically register with the central hub as they are join the IOT network. The following technologies might serve as inspiration of how to implement an IOT device discovery service:

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Not All IOT Platforms are Created Equal

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A few days ago, I was part of a super interesting debate with several thought leaders in the internet of things (IOT) community about the evolution of IOT enterprise platforms. The core point of the debate was trying to identify the different channels by which enterprises will be exposed to IOT platforms.

In the past, I’ve been very vocal that the enterprise IOT will inevitably produce a new type of platform. That thesis is no longer a theoretical argument as we are already seeing the first flavors of IOT platforms starting to make inroads in the enterprise. Even though this generation of IOT platform represent the first iteration in the space, we can already see marked differences between different types of platforms. As an organization looking to embrace an IOT platform, this initial diversity can result very confusing.

IOT Platforms Provided by Traditional Enterprise Software Vendors

  • Overview: Traditional enterprise software vendors like Oracle or IBM are already heavily invested in extending their capabilities into the IOT space. As a result, these vendors are likely to bring to market IOT platforms that are deeply integrated with their existing technology stacks , vertical solutions and services.
  • Should Excel At: in my opinion, the IOT platforms produced by traditional enterprise software vendors are likely to be commercialized as part of industry specific industry solutions rather than standalone platforms. In that sense, this type of platform will excel at providing industry specific capabilities as well as tight integration with the products and platforms provided by the specific enterprise software vendor.
  • Should Not Be Great For: Complementing the previous point, we think IOT platforms provided by traditional enterprise software vendors will be commercialized as part of domain specific solutions and will require a decent level of professional services and training. In that sense, we can make the argument that those types of platforms won’t be great for building general purpose solutions without the involvement of the target enterprise software vendor.

IOT Services Provided by Platform as a Service Providers

  • Overview: Platform as a service (PaaS) providers like AWS, Azure or IBM are already providing specific services that abstract fundamental backend capabilities of IOT solutions. This trend is only going to increase in the near future as more and more cloud providers start building a presence in the IOT space.
  • Should Excel At: The IOT capabilities of PaaS solutions are typically provided in the form of individual services. In that sense, this type of solutions should see a broad adoption within the developer and startup communities. As a result, we should see a lot of the IOT PaaS services being adopted by startups providing smart devices or industry specific solutions as well as IT organizations building their own internal infrastructure.
  • Should Not Be Great For: The IOT capabilities provided by PaaS platforms are likely to lack the consistency of complete IOT platforms. Also, the cloud nature of this type of solution should present challenges for organizations building IOT solutions that require to be deployed within their premises.

IOT Services Provided by Smart Device Providers

  • Overview: From startups to big software companies like Cisco or Texas Instruments, IOT device providers are starting to build the first incarnations of IOT platforms that work consistently across their device portfolio. These IOT platforms will be tightly integrated with the specific family of hardware devices as well as the corresponding manufacturing toolkits.
  • Should Excel At: Platforms provided by IOT hardware providers should be best in class enabling solutions powered by those specific devices. Similarly, this type of platforms will provide consistent backend services and management experience for solutions powered by those smart devices.
  • Should Not Be Great For: While the IOT platforms provided by smart device providers should excel in solutions powered by those devices, they are likely to result limited for general purpose IOT solutions. In that sense, is unlikely that third parties will embrace this type of platforms for building new IOT solutions.

IOT Capabilities Provided by Enterprise Mobility Management Platforms

  • Overview: Enterprise mobile management platform(EMM) vendors such as BlackBerry or VMWare are starting to make the first inroads in the IOT space. If you think of mobile as a subset of IOT, the assumption that a lot of the current capabilities provided by those platforms should be adaptable to the IOT space makes some sense. As a result, we are likely to see that group of vendors providing hybrid platforms that enable both enterprise mobile and IOT solutions.
  • Should Excel At: If we use the enterprise mobile space as a reference, we are likely to see strong IOT security, device management and other operational capabilities included in the IOT platforms provided by traditional enterprise mobile management platform vendors. That model will allow the EMM vendor to extend their existing footprint in the enterprise mobile ecosystem into the IOT space with a consistent value proposition.
  • Should Not Be Great For: While IOT platforms provided by EMM vendors should excel in the security and management capabilities, they are likely to not result an ideal platform for developers building IOT solutions. For years, EMM vendors have evolved cultivating devops as their target customer which entails specific product delivery, sales and marketing models. EMM vendors should continue expanding on this model as they enter the IOT space.

New IOT Enterprise Platforms

  • Overview: Like any other transformational movement in the history of enterprise software, IOT will produce a new group of startups and platforms that will help enterprises build and manage the new generation of industrial solutions. These platforms should provide capabilities such as complex event processing, security, real time analytics, operational management while also providing a friendly interface for developers. We are already witnessing platforms like Kii, Xively, 2lemetry (Amazon), ThingWorx etc start to make progress in this space.
  • Should Excel At: From all the different channels explained in this article, the new wave of enterprise IOT platforms is likely to produce the biggest wave of innovation in the entire space. We should also expect to see these type of platforms being delivered using both on-premise and cloud models as well as leveraging open source vehicles. Additionally, these new group of platform is likely to provided the broadest levels of integration with new hardware manufactures and IOT solution providers.
  • Should Not Be Great For: As explained previously, the new generation of enterprise IOT platforms is likely to excel at innovation and openness. However, because this type of platforms are just evolving, we should not expect to see a lot of industry-specific solutions powered by these platforms in the immediate future. Additionally, as the enterprise OT space evolve, some of this new IOT platform startups will be acquired by larger enterprise software companies inheriting some new commercial and delivery models.
 
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Posted by on May 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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What’s Up NYC? Speaking At The Cloud Computing Expo Next Week

Next week I will be speaking at the Cloud Computing Expo in New York City. I am particularly excited about this event because I will have the unique opportunity to present about the new concept behind our upcoming enterprise mobility platform: the enterprise mobile platform as a service. I will be talking about how the intersection between cloud computing and enterprise mobility offers a unique model to finally DEMOCRATIZE enterprise mobility and has produced a new set of cloud models such as mobile backend as a service (mBaaS). I am also planning on spending some time discussing some of the most common enterprise mobility patterns and how organizations are leveraging the cloud to enable the next generation of enterprise mobile applications.

The Cloud Computing Expo is one of the top cloud computing conferences in the world. With two editions every year, this conference manages to bring some of the top minds in the cloud technology ecosystem and tackle some of the hottest topics in the industry.

If you are in the NYC area next week and are interested to talk about cloud, mobility, big data or technology in general feel free tweet me at https://twitter.com/#!/jrdothoughts or stop by my session and say hi. I promise to keep it fun ;)

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Is open source in the cloud still open source?

Open source platform as a service (PaaS) platforms are one of the most exciting topics in the software industry nowadays. Following the $212M acquisition of Heroku by Salesforce.com, we’ve seen how in a matter of months, platforms like dotCloud of VMWare’s Cloud Foundry have emerged with complete PaaS suites based on popular open source technologies.

The value proposition behind this type of PaaS offer is very simple. These platforms will enable the foundation to host, manage, provision and scale solutions based on some of the most renowned open source technologies such as Ruby on Rails, Hadoop, MySQL among dozens of others.

When we start exploring these technologies in detail, we will quickly realize that they could have a profound impact in the software industry that changes the economics and cultural aspects of the open source model.

For the last 20 something years, open source technologies have been fighting an uphill battle to gain a wide adoption within traditional business that favors commercial software alternatives. Lack of support options, poor documentation or vendor commitment are some of the reasons (or prejudices J ) that are often seen as limitations of open source technology stacks. Those years of anti open source mindsets have had a deep influence in the software markets. If you think about it, other than JBoss, MySQL or SpringSource, we can’t cite many other big exits of open source technology vendors. While it is true that the number of exists or acquisitions is not a direct in direct correlation to the viability of a business model it’s a pretty good indicator of the health and stability of a specific market segment.

Can open source PaaS platforms change this? I definitely think so. Let me try to explain.

Does it matter if it is open source when somebody can provision, host, manage, and scale it for you?

I think the open source PaaS model is removing a lot of the friction that companies experience when adopting open source technology stacks. Think about it, would you still be concerned of using Ruby or MySQL if Heroku, VMWare or dotCloud provisions, hosts, manages and scales the technology for you in a very elastic, self-healing infrastructure?

We have to think about open source PaaS beyond the technology landscape and see it as a phenomenon that can change the economic dynamics of the open source model. To put it in very simple terms, open source PaaS platforms have the opportunity to erase a lot of the non-technical advantages that, sometimes, were attributed to commercial software compared to open source alternatives.


Playing by the same rules…. what does this mean for commercial software vendors?

The emergence of open source cloud platforms will force commercial software vendors such as Microsoft or IBM to focus more on innovations of the cloud stacks and less on the advantages of their delivery model. At the same time, commercial software vendors will now have to compete with very complete technology stacks that group a large variety of open source technologies. For instance, I think developers are going to find themselves evaluating complete cloud fabrics like Windows Azure vs. Cloud Foundry, instead of individual technologies SQL Server vs. MySQL.

What does this mean for enterprises?

I think open source PaaS should be a primary option for companies when considering embracing cloud computing. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that it will take some time for organizations to get rid of the same anti open source prejudices that were common when evaluating on-premise open source technologies. In any case, we have to trust the influence that software communities can have in the industry.

Do open source communities need to change?

I don’t think open source communities will change drastically in this cloud computing era but I do believe we need to start considering open source PaaS platforms on the roadmap of the different open source technologies. For instance, I believe open source communities should be very influential regarding which features should be enabled on the different open source cloud platforms and, at the same time, guide the path of the technology in a way that won’t harm the platforms that are enabling those technologies in a cloud environment.

Who will win the PaaS wars?

I believe we will have multiple winners. Microsoft has a head start and a fantastic platform with Windows Azure. I believe VMWare’s Cloud Foundry and Salesforce.com’s Heroku can leverage their strong presence in the virtualization and business software aspects to grow its adoption.

 

In any case, I believe we have interesting times ahead of us.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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