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Best IoT Articles of 2017

As the year comes to a close, we combed through IoT Central’s website and pulled our most popular articles and interviews, revisited our most thought provoking pieces and analyzed numerous how-to’s to showcase the best of 2017. Below are 48 articles that are worth reviewing as you head into 2018. Enjoy.

Remember, encourage your friends and colleagues to be a part of our community. They can join IoT Central here. You can contribute your thoughts on IoT here

January

8 Maps of the Internet of Things

Using Blockchain to Secure IoT

5 Rules for Manufacturers in Securing the Internet of Things

Securing the Internet of Everything

 

February

6 Videos That Will Get You Up to Speed on Blockchain

Regulating the Internet of Things

How to Nail your Internet of Things Interview

How IoT is Changing the World: Cases from Visa, Airbus, Bosch & SNCF

 

March

Visual History of IoT — Far Beyond ‘Smart’ Things

The IoT-Connected Car of Today— Cases From Hertz, Nokia, NTT, Mojio & Concur Technologies

The IoT Architecture at the Edge

The Dream of a Unified and IIoT Enabled Industrial Communications Network…How Close Are We?

 

April

About IoT Platforms, Super Powers Methodology, Superheroes and Supervillains

Exposing the Abandonment of Things – A Trove of Lost Revenue

IoT Developer Trends 2017 Edition

The Rest of the Iceberg - The Looming IP Implications of the Industrial Internet of Things

 

May

Best practices for building recurring revenue from IoT-as-a-Service

Internet of (Medical) things in Healthcare

When Products Talk: The Expansion of the Internet of Things to the Internet of Everything

The Smart Agent: Enabling the Internet of Things

 

June

Not all Devices are IoT or IIoT

Interview: Why is it so hard to monetize the Internet of Things?

Hardware or Software Security: Which is right for my IoT Device?

The British Antarctic Survey Uses Rugged Data Transport

 

July

Future-Proofing Your IoT Infrastructure

Seven Industrial IoT Predictions for 2017 and Beyond

How Much Does it Cost to Build an IoT App?

Driving IoT Project Success - Ten Best Practices

 

August

20 Job Interview Questions for IoT Professionals

The 5D Architecture – A Standard Architecture for IoT

Interview: Bringing Machine Learning to The Edge

SCADA vs IoT: the role of SCADA systems in Manufacturing's Industry 4.0

 

September

Security Issues To Expect In Mobile App Development

Interview: The Rise of LoRa

5 IoT-based Business Models to Leverage

Why Edge Computing Is an IIoT Requirement

 

October

IoT Use Case - Battery Powered Device

International IIoT Perspectives: Fog Computing On a Global Scale

Rise of the Intelligent Revenue Machines

8 Reasons You Need IoT in Your Manufacturing Plant

 

November

IIoT protocols for the beginners

How to enable IoT Gateway Hardware Security?

Why There’s No Killer App for IoT

4 Ways to Optimize Your Operations for the Industrial IoT

 

December

Industrial Augmented Reality: Uses and Applications

McKinsey: Ten trends redefining enterprise IT infrastructure

All That You Need to Know About The Internet of Things Security

State of Home Automation Technology: What Makes Dumb Houses Smart?

 

Photo Credit Mike Ackerman

 


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As we all know, approaches to implementing IT infrastructure is changing fast, and has upended the way CIO's, IT managers and software developers, not to mention tech vendors, allocate their IT spend. What will it look like in 2020? McKinsey recently published a blog post looking at 10 Trends that trends that are giving rise to disruption and innovation. 

For IoT, McKinsey writes:

Internet of Things business applications are ready for adoption.

McKinsey estimates that business-to-business applications will account for nearly 70 percent of the value that will flow from the Internet of Things (IoT) in the next ten years. According to our 2017 Enterprise IoT Executive Survey, 96 percent of companies expect to increase their IoT spending over the next three years, with some planning to devote as much as a quarter of their IT expenditures to IoT-related capabilities. The most popular use cases for enterprise IoT involve increasing visibility into operations, optimizing operational tasks, or assisting with the development of new business models. The upshift in adoption is even occurring in industries that have traditionally been slow to adopt new technologies, such as oil and gas. The growth of enterprise IoT will vastly increase demand for the compute-and-storage infrastructure, augmenting demand for hyperscale resources and IoT-specific PaaS solutions.

BI Intelligence predicts that more than five billion IoT devices, such as inventory-control and safety-monitoring tools, will require edge solutions by 2020 because they must collect and process data in real time.9Edge solutions allow information processing at the device or gateway level, rather than within the cloud or a data center, reducing both latency and connectivity dependencies. Of the $500 billion in growth expected for IoT through 2020, McKinsey estimates that about 25 percent will be directly related to edge technology. Edge computing will help improve data compression and transfer in the connectivity layer of the technology stack, reducing network bandwidth and making a wider range of IoT applications possible.

Photo Credit: Jessic Orrico 

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MobiDev, an IoT software development company, has successfully developed an mobile application for connected cars.

The client, a vehicle electronics manufacturer from Germany, set the task to integrate a device installed in a smart car with a developed mobile app that allows to control wheel suspension of the car with a smartphone.

The project goal was to develop a reliable Internet of Things solution, starting from UI/UX design to implementation of the product for the achievement of the business goals of the product owner.

The application development started from prototyping and UI/UX design for both iOS and Android. Agile methodology was applied to the development process and a dedicated team of Project Manager, Quality Assurance Engineer, Client Care Manager, iOS Developer, Android Developer, UI/UX Designer was involved.

For interaction between the device and the mobile application, Bluetooth Low Energy technology was used to reduce energy consumption.

Quality assurance and software testing are critically important stages of IoT development, and the application, together with the hardware, was tested on a real car.

The product owner referenced MobiDev as a competent and responsive company for mobile application development and chose them for his further application development projects in the future.

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Augmented Reality has been here for some time. Among consumer level products, Pokémon Go was one prime example of primitive level Augmented Reality, it only took a decent smartphone. Lately, some of the social media and networking apps, especially the ones that feature a 24-hour story option e.g. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Messenger are using the basic technologies of Augmented Reality to draw masks and filters over the users’ faces. This is real-time and accurate, and fun nonetheless. However, augmented reality face filters and industrial augmented reality, also known as IAR is vastly different. The first one can act on generic smartphone hardware across a wide range of devices whereas the latter needs proprietary software and hardware. The margin of error in IAR practically needs to be negligible, and there should not be any prominent lag in the system to maintain a precise production output. Augmented Reality has become a thing in 2017, and we believe the inflection point for Industrial Augmented Reality will be around 2018 – 2019.

Augmented Reality in the Production Line

Everyone that works down in the core production facility, e.g. the supervisors, the technicians and the field workers could really benefit by using AR and 3D imagery on top of a real object to speed up the designing and implementation process. A 3D augmented reality model could be drawn in the head-worn VR helmet in 3D space, generated by data received from IoT based sensors placed at different crucial points to build up an effective model. Also, IAR might not necessarily require VR headsets. There are different aspects of AR and workers in a production facility could access them using smartphones, tablets or proprietary handheld devices. As of yet, renowned VR devices in production are being used in several industries - Google Glass Enterprise and Microsoft HoloLens have made their cut. The emergence of IoT and rapid development in the same field would certainly ensure a competitive market of IoT sensors and VR helmets for IAR in the upcoming years. Workers in different industries – production, oil drilling, mining, assembly line etc. will never look the same in a few years!

Challenges in the Application of AR in Industries

Creating the AR ecosystem is the major challenge in switching to a completely AR based industry from old-school manual technologies. Assembly line workers do the same repetitive tasks every day and it doesn’t matter how boring their jobs might be, they have gotten used to doing it. Introducing a new technology could set back production by bigger numbers, cause serious trouble in the supply chain and jeopardize a company’s trades. In technology spectrum, the available IoT sensors are still mostly generic. Depending on what an industry would produce, these sensors will need to change and become more customizable and specific.

IAR Application in Industries

So far, implementation of IAR is seen in the following industries –

• Manufacturing: Boeing is one of the first adopters to put AR in their mainstream production line. A few automobile makers have initiated beta versions of their IAR.

• Military: US Air Force has been using a fully functional AR system for some select models of their air crafts since 1992. Louis Rosenberg was the mastermind behind creating the system.

• Healthcare & Medical: To carry out dangerous surgical operations in sensitive organs, such as the brain and heart, a combination of VR and AR is used by surgeons.

• Education: A picture is worth a thousand words. Imagine how many words a demonstration through AR would be?

• Tourism: Yelp Monocle and Word Lens are two AR based smartphone apps that use augmented reality to provide the user with relevant information.

IAR is the Future

Pokémon Go or Snapchat are fun, but they aren’t the only applications AR is capable of doing. With IAR in the rise, the production lines are going to be more productive and competitive than ever.  Whats your take, do you think IAR will be the next best thing? or is the learning curve too high to be worth the investment?

Greg Conrad is a writer for Ax Control

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IoT Central Discussion Forums

Do you know about the IoT Central Discussion Forums? This is the place to ask pertinent questions and share knowledge with the IoT Central community in a less formal way than a blog post. Current forum topics include ROI, IoT and data lakesresources for IIoT app developers, and where to find IoT project management materials. To start a discussion on our forum, click here.

Below is the latest edition of the IoT Central Digest. Encourage your friends and colleagues to be a part of our community. Forward this to them. They can join IoT Central here. You can contribute your thoughts on IoT here.

All That You Need to Know About The Internet of Things Security

Posted by Mehul Rajput 

The Internet of Things can be easily victimized and so the security of the IoT becomes paramount under these circumstances. The world has already come under the scanner with major cyber threats such as the WannaCry Ransomware, NotPetya, etc. where the hackers were successful in millions of computer systems across the globe jeopardizing the entire internet networking. However, the cyber security experts are much apprehended over the fact that firms, internet users or neither the IoT manufactures are serious about the security of devices connected with the internet.

Can the Public Internet Secure Our Digital Assets?

Posted by Mary Clark 

There is a lot of talk, and, indeed, hype, these days about the internet of things. But what is often overlooked is that the internet of things is also an internet of shared services and shared data. What’s more, we are becoming too heavily reliant on public internet connectivity to underpin innovative new services.

State of Home Automation Technology: What Makes Dumb Houses Smart?

Posted by Andrei Klubnikin

Although the global Smart Home market is projected to top $ 14 billion this year, most Home Automation products available on the market right now are basic IoT devices connected to a smartphone app. With all those DIY solutions, universal remotes and standalone gadgets like Nest thermostat, the Smart House technology has never been more confusing. What does the future of Home Automation look like – and what makes dumb houses truly smart?

ICYMI: Embedded Software is Eating the World

Posted by David Oro

Software is eating the world wrote Marc Andreessen in The Wall Street Journal on August 20, 2011. Since that time every company in the world has beefed up their software teams and their digital transformation initiatives. Afterall, software is a key competitive advantage, and to survival.  In the IoT space, we often think about the application software that power industrial systems and consumer connected devices. But what about the embedded software written to control machines or devices that are not typically thought of as computers? This is almost everything, from a small digital watch, e-bikes, electronic control units in cars, microwaves and missile guidance systems. For insight we turned to Jeffrey Fortin, Head of Product Management, Vector Software.

Photo Credit: Xavier Bentes


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Andrei Klubnikin is Senior Content Manager at R-Style Lab - custom software development company (IoT, Web, Mobile) with a representative office in San Francisco, CA and dev center in Belarus, Europe. Andrew is a tech geek interested in everything about IoT, web and mobile development. He’s been a tech blogger since 2011.
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Can the Public Internet Secure Our Digital Assets?

There is a lot of talk, and, indeed, hype, these days about the internet of things. But what is often overlooked is that the internet of things is also an internet of shared services and shared data. What’s more, we are becoming too heavily reliant on public internet connectivity to underpin innovative new services.

Take this as an example. Back in April, Ford Motor Company, Starbucks and Amazon announced and demonstrated an alliance that would allow a consumer to use Alexa to order and pay for their usual coffee selection from their car. Simply saying, “Alexa: ask Starbucks to start my order,” would trigger the sequence of events required to enable you to drive to the pickup point and collect your already-paid-for coffee with no waiting in line.

Making that transaction happen behind the scenes involves a complex integration of the business processes of all the companies involved. Let’s be clear: this is about data protection. For this series of transactions to be successfully handled, they must be able to share customer payment data, manage identity and authentication, and match personal accounts to customer profiles.

Because all of that critical data can be manipulated, changed or stolen, cyberattacks pose significant data protection risks for nearly any entity anywhere. The ambition of some of these consumer innovations makes an assumption that the “secure” network underpinning this ecosystem for the transfer of all that valuable personal data is the public internet. And that’s the point – it’s not secure.

As we’ve talked about previously on Syniverse's blog Synergy, the public internet poses a systemic risk to businesses and to confidential data. In short, when we are dealing on a large scale with highly sensitive data, the level of protection available today for data that, at any point, touches the public internet is substantially inadequate.

And this alliance between Ford and Starbucks is just one example of the type of innovation, across many different industry and consumer sectors, that we can expect to see a lot of in the very near future. These services will connect organizations that are sharing data and information about businesses and about consumers – about their purchase history, their preferences and requirements, and also about their likely future needs. This is potentially a very convenient and desired service from a consumer’s point of view, but at what cost?

We need security of connectivity, security from outside interference and the security of encrypted transfer and protection for our personal and financial data. And we need to be able to verify the protection of that data at all times by ensuring attribution and identity – both concepts we’ll explore more deeply in an upcoming blog post. And that’s a level of security that the public internet simply cannot provide.

Last month, an internet-based global ransomware attack took down systems and services all over the world – affecting sensitive personal healthcare data in the U.K. in particular.

Whether it is personal health records, financial records, data about the movement of freight in a supply chain, or variations in energy production and consumption, these are digital assets. Businesses, institutions and government bodies all over the world have billions of digital assets that must be constantly sent to and from different parties. And those assets require the type of high-level data protection that is not currently possible because of the systemic risk posed by the insecure public internet.

As mentioned in my last blog post on Synergy, there is an alternative. Some companies using private IP networks were able to carry on regardless throughout the high-profile cyberattacks that have been capturing headlines in the last year. That’s because those companies were not reliant on the public internet. Instead, they were all using what we are beginning to term “Triple-A” networks on which you can specify the speed and capacity of your Access to the network while guaranteeing the Availability of your connection. What’s more, on a Triple-A network, Attribution is securely controlled, so you know who and what is accessing your network and the level of authority granted both to the device accessing the network and to its user.

The public internet cannot provide or compete with a Triple-A level of security, and nor should we expect it to. It cannot live up to the stringent data protection requirements necessary for today’s critical digital assets. We cannot remain content that so much infrastructure, from banking, to transport and to power supplies, relies on a network with so many known vulnerabilities. And we must consider whether we want to carry on developing an industrial internet of things and consumer services on a public network.

We will continue to explore these issues on this blog, to highlight different approaches, and examine the requirements of the secure networks of the future. And in the process, we’ll take a look at the work being done to build more networks with a Triple-A approach.

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Have We Already Bored of Predicting IoT?

If you have read my post “Will finally be 2017, the year of Internet of Things? I do not think so.” you will have confirmed there were some analysts and companies who guessed and others who did not hit the bullseye.

As usual, numerous predictions about the Internet of Things (IoT) appear at the end of the year, some with foundation, others by interests and others by opportunism. Although I notice a certain fatigue this year perhaps due to the appearance of other cooler technologies or very likely to the lack of success and few differences from previous predictions. 

It may also be the last time I write an IoT prediction article.

Let's start by reviewing some of the 2017 predictions.

Successes and failures of IoT 2017 predictions

Sorry Morgan Stanley but 2017 has not been The Year Of Internet Of Things however is true that there is less hype around IoT.

Yes Forrester, we continue worried that there will be a large-scale IoT security breach.

As not many large IoT projects in 2017, the role of System Integrators has not been as important as IDC predicted.

Have you seen, Analysys Mason, key developments in LPWA technologies, connected cars and smart cities?

Who now, MachNation if Internet of Things platform revenue grow 116% in 2017. There are only financial numbers but we all agree with Sandhill that still many doubts how “Choose your platform.

It is true Forbes “The Internet of Things (IoT) is still a popular buzzword, but adoption will continue to be slow.” 

I have to say that Judith Hurwitz and Associates, were right that the growth will be in industrial sector rather than the consumer sector.

Hard to fail if you consider what Moor Insights & Strategy predicted: IoT is still in its infancy in terms of dollars and deployments, and that can’t last much longer, before market frustration sets in

Brave, ADLINK and FreeWave Technologies, Inc predicted that Edge computing will become a mainstream term for IIoT. 

Internet of Things Institute - “Recruiting Will Remain a Challenge for Organizations with IoT Initiatives” and sorry Teradata not many companies looking for Internet of Things architect role.

Tier-1 operators in the US and Europe happy with Northstream because IoT revenues contributing up to 3% of total revenue in 2017. 

Telefonica IoT and Cisco Jasper trusted that LPWA expansion to harness the growing IoT.

What will be of IoT in 2018?

According with Ericsson, in 2018, mobile phones are expected to be surpassed in numbers by IoT devices.

It seems that 2018 will be the year when AI and IoT will converge. But it will also be the year in which the CIOs will be busy integrating device management into overall IT infrastructure in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the organization. This is where the adoption of application robots, natural language processing (NLP) and AI automation of processes will come into their own, offering intelligent management of IoT deployments cheaply and efficiently. 

However, 2018 will not be the year of Blockchain and the IoT, because although Blockchain-based IoT adoption rises to 5%, Blockchain is not yet ready for large scale deployments requiring reliability, stability and seamless integration with existing technology infrastructure. But promising pilot projects are beginning to emerge and the maturation of IoT and blockchain technologies and products will drive blockchain adoption in 2018.

To reinforce the ongoing investment across the industry Gartner’s Strategic Trends for 2018 back up the focus on IoT with Intelligent Things, Digital Twins and Cloud to the Edge all making the list for the coming year. 

On the other hand, Forrester affirms that finally 2018 will be the year in which the Internet of Things moves from "experimentation to business scale". Forrester also predicts that IoT platform offerings will begin to specialize in “design” and “operate” scenarios.

Punctual to his annual appointment, IDC makes its Worldwide IoT 2018 Predictions. 

One more year, Citrix leading thinkers also share their predictions.

A small  startup, Imagimob considers 6 trends in the IoT and Industrial IoT-IIOT in 2018. As you can imagine Low Power Area Networks (LPWAN), Edge computing, AI on the edge and Blockchain are included.

IoT Security repeat predictions in 2018. Forrester in the same line predict More cyber threats and design specialization.

Fog Computing, Security, and Smarter Decisions are IoT Predictions for 2018 by Saar Yoskovitz, CEO of Augury, a preventive maintenance company.

The State of IoT In 2018 for Marketers: We’re going to experience a massive increase in the number of digitally connected devices, changing the game for marketers across the globe.

IoT 2018 – the next stage: the IoT of integration, value and action

IoT Will Move From Experimentation To Business Scale - 

5 IoT trends that will define 2018 - In 2018, IoT-based ventures will have greater access to startup capital and be taken more seriously in the market. 

Only one wish for IoT 2018 from my side

In spite, I am not in this list of 17 Experts Tell The Most Exciting IoT Trends to Watch for in 2018, I have a wish for 2018: 

“I hope that in 2018, all proofs of concept become successful projects and that the most innovative startups resist the temptation to be acquired." 

Thanks, in advance for your Likes and Shares.

 

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No Killer App for IoT?

Here is the latest edition of the IoT Central Digest. Encourage your friends and colleagues to be a part of our community. Forward this to them. They can join IoT Central here. You can contribute your thoughts on IoT here.

4 Ways to Optimize Your Operations for the Industrial IoT

Posted by Scott Allen 

The phrase, “the future is here,” is overused and has evolved into a catchphrase for companies struggling to position themselves in times of technological or digital transformations. Still, the sentiment is understood, especially in times like today, where the Internet of Things is quite literally changing the way we think about hardware and software. We’d like to offer an addendum to the phrase: “The future is here more quickly than we thought it would be.” With that in mind, we wanted to provide some advice for companies across the industrial sector for the best ways to optimize operations for the Industrial IoT. 

IIoT protocols for the beginners

Posted by Vivart Kapoor 

We all know HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol). These are the first 4 alphabets which see on any URL of a website you open in your browser. In simple terms, it is a list of rules that define do’s and don’ts of communication between web browser and web server. It is like you (web browser) going to ATM (webserver) to get some cash (request). Here the HTTP will describe the complete procedure – enter pin, amount, etc. You get your cash (result) once you follow the mentioned steps. Quite simple.

The World Wide Web (WWW) works on HTTP as it is the only protocol used there for the data transfer. However, this is not the case in the Industrial (I) IoT world. Here we have a bunch of protocols to choose depending on the type of application or so-called “use case”. The most common among them are MQTT, CoAP and of course HTTP. Before we discuss them, let us first have a look at certain networking terminologies and definitions. 

Why There’s No Killer App for IoT

Guest Post by Daniel Elizalde

Every new technology trend brings speculation and talk about a “killer app” that will be the solution to all of our problems. Tech publications and blogs produce countless articles searching for the “killer app” for the iPhone, the Cloud, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and of course, IoT. We’ve also even seen the same hype for development processes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that Agile is that silver bullet. Or maybe it was Lean, or Kanban? Hard to keep track. But as a Product Manager, we can’t keep chasing the next big thing all the time. It’s true we need to understand where technology is going, but we need to be more pragmatic and realize there is no single “killer app” for anything. Particularly for IoT.

Universal Gateway – Solution to enable IoT in Building Automation

Posted by Mohit Bhardwaj 

Connecting smart buildings to smart grid, smart transportation, & other smart services is the need of the hour to truly manifest the potential of IoT. However, communicating with numerous systems made up of different protocols is a major challenge faced by integrators. Protocol converters are widely used to convert protocol A to B, but such devices do not offer ease of configuration and flexibility demanded by IoT. The solution to this is a universal gateway – a device that transacts data between two or more data sources using communication protocols specific to each of them. The Universal gateway is also termed as a universal protocol gateway. Such products include a combination of hardware & software, and used to connect data from one automation system like building automation to another like a smart grid.

Photo Credit: Markus Spiske 


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Embedded Software is Eating the World

Software is eating the world wrote Marc Andreessen in The Wall Street Journal on August 20, 2011. Since that time every company in the world has beefed up their software teams and their digital transformation initiatives. Afterall, software is a key competitive advantage, and to survival. 

In the IoT space, we often think about the application software that power industrial systems and consumer connected devices. But what about the embedded software written to control machines or devices that are not typically thought of as computers? This is almost everything, from a small digital watch, e-bikes, electronic control units in cars, microwaves and missile guidance systems.

For insight we turned to Jeffrey Fortin, Head of Product Management, Vector Software. Vector provides automated test tools for embedded software applications in automotive, aerospace, medical devices, industrial controls, rail, and other business critical sectors.

Much of the discussion about software development has centered on mainstream brick-and-mortar companies becoming software companies. They need to be able to compete on software against FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google). But this often means competing with better consumer facing applications. Vector focuses on embedded software. What’s at stake for embedded organizations here?

With companies such as Facebook and Apple becoming such a part of our everyday lives, consumers have grown so accustomed to the ease-of-use that these types of companies bring to market in their products. As IoT grows and brick-and-mortar companies are also becoming software companies, this type of user experience has become top of mind, and something that’s now expected by consumers. However, the underlying embedded software within these devices can easily be lost sight of while putting such a big focus on the user experience aspect. 

If an organization was responsible for a safety-critical device that did not previously have software, but now does, organizations must remember that it still has to meet the same safety requirements as before. Just because software has just now been integrated in the product and the organization wants to improve the UX, that does not mean that the safety of the device can be compromised. The quality of the embedded software must be the fundamental focus to ensure consumers are not put at risk.

We all know now that software is eating the world. If you are a manufacturer of electronic devices, but software development is not your core, what do you say to them?

As IoT continues to grow and evolve, there will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving ecosystem. This essentially means that many electronic device manufacturers will also now be in the software business.

The problem is that many of these vendors will be new to building embedded software/robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly when safety- or performance-critical applications become increasingly dependent on products controlled by software. In these situations, where safety, security or human life is exposed to risk if software fails, I would reiterate to these manufacturers that quality has to be the central focus of software development efforts.

In the IoT ecosystem, a lot of “consumer-grade” software will also find its way onto critical paths in new safety- or performance-critical applications, in large part due to the re-use of legacy code bases. Legacy code often carries an enormous amount of technical debt. Without proper software quality methods in place to ensure the integrity of legacy code, the overall safety of the system could be compromised. 

In summary, quality cannot be installed at the end. Organizations will need to adopt development processes to verify the integrity level of the software is in line with the safety risks of the application.

When it comes to IIoT, what are the trends you are seeing in embedded software and is there a major transition happening in terms of development, testing and quality?

One of the trends I have observed with the growth of IIoT is that product delivery has been flipped. In a traditional model, a product was delivered and remained static. With IoT/IIoT, products are now continuously updated and re-purposed for new functionality or for new business models. With change comes risk, including loss of quality -- and that can put safety at stake, particularly within industrial applications.

Due to this change, there has been a major transition in the way that organizations approach development and testing. For example, many have adopted processes that dramatically improve quality, including software development methodologies such as Change-Based Testing, Continuous Integration and Regression Testing.

Furthermore, as the number of products becoming software-defined grows, software integrity directly relates to brand value. Likewise, as products migrate from consumer-grade use cases to be integrated into mission-critical applications, the quality of the software will determine the value delivered by the products. The chance that faulty software will cause a system failure is now a much greater risk and can result in devastating consequences that not only bring business processes to a halt, but may also harm a company’s reputation. 

As a result, software quality has become an increasingly critical concern in the IoT environment.

Which languages are leading IoT development and what do you recommend to clients?

IoT often leverages scripting languages such as JavaScript, Lua and Node.js. But these languages usually run in conjunction with system software that control the device. The system software is usually written in C or C++. System software forms the foundation for the device and is often required to meet regulatory standards for safety integrity. Our clients who develop this type of software often use C, C++ and also Ada.

The embedded design is key to addressing the need for more secure products in an IoT-enabled world. What are your thoughts on how we make IoT more secure?

With IoT applications, safety can become an issue when security is compromised because these applications power safety-critical products such as automobiles, manufacturing equipment, medical devices and more. Developing secure applications requires constant vigilance in all stages of development. To do so, tools that are capable of detecting possible vulnerabilities when writing code, integrating modules and testing compiled binaries on target hardware should be used.

A commonly used tool for testing software is static application security testing (SAST), which analyzes large amounts of code for common vulnerabilities that could lead to potential security risks. SAST does not execute code, but instead tries to understand what the code is doing behind the scenes to identify errors. However, SAST has been plagued by false-positives, where vulnerabilities are reported but they do not actually exist. Instead, dynamic testing methods can be used to expose security defects in software by confirming exploitability. In this approach, automated software testing methods are used to interrogate an application’s software code and identify possible weaknesses. Once this is complete, a test exploiting the identified issue is generated and executed. After execution, test tools can analyze the execution trace and decide if the potential weakness is actually a genuine threat.

What is your biggest concern when it comes to the Industrial Internet of Things?

The Industrial Internet of Things comprises applications in medical devices, automobiles, avionics, heavy machinery and more. In all of these examples, the quality of the embedded software is under tight scrutiny as safety, security or human life is exposed to risk if the software fails. 

Code correctness forms the basis of a trusted computing platform, and that’s what we at Vector Software are focused on. Every development team needs a comprehensive process in place to achieve application security goals and ensure code correctness before a product goes to market. Our VectorCAST platform provides automated software testing tools that enable the implementation of a complete and automated test infrastructure to ensure improved code quality.

Interoperability testing and protocols are a major part of ensuring that IoT products work. Beyond interoperability, what do you see as the next steps?

At Vector Software, rather than simply testing for interoperability, our focus really lies on integrity testing. In any IoT device, especially in IIoT where safety is a top priority, it is important that the device is not only interoperable with other devices, but it is even more so important to ensure that the software powering these devices is implemented correctly, without fail.

Integrity testing ensures that the code coverage and overall quality of the software itself meet the required safety standards in place. If the software in a car sends a canned message to turn the headlights on, do they actually turn on? Integrity testing ensures that the software is implemented correctly and without errors so that the IoT-enabled device works every time. By doing so, safety is not at risk, and the devices we use in our daily lives can be relied upon. 

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The phrase, “the future is here,” is overused and has evolved into a catchphrase for companies struggling to position themselves in times of technological or digital transformations. Still, the sentiment is understood, especially in times like today, where the Internet of Things is quite literally changing the way we think about hardware and software. We’d like to offer an addendum to the phrase: “The future is here more quickly than we thought it would be.”

Digital transformation, increased computing ability, smart hardware and the growth of connectivity capabilities created a perfect storm of accelerated industry, and many were left scrambling to sift through the large amounts of information and solutions available. With that in mind, we wanted to provide some advice for companies across the industrial sector for the best ways to optimize operations for the Industrial IoT.

1) Upgrade your network and throughput capabilities.

Nothing can kill the ROI of automated processes more quickly than the literal inability to function. It’s important to understand that as you upgrade machinery and invest in the software to run it all, those systems demand greater bandwidth in order to effectively utilize the big data and analytics capabilities. Several options exist, but for most companies some combination of industrial-strength broadband (WiFi), narrow-band, cellular and RF communications will create the most effective network for the needs.

2) Invest in smart hardware.

This may seem like a no-brainer, and really, in the not-too-distant future, you may not even have a choice, but the shift toward Fog Computing is gaining momentum and being able to run decentralized computing between hardware and the Cloud can not only create greater operational efficiency, but it can also allow your data transmission to run more smoothly as well. The beauty of a Fog Computing system is that it allows a greater number of devices to transmit smaller data packets, which frees up bandwidth and speeds real-time data analytics. The core of this lies in the smart hardware.

3) Be proactive about application development.

Smart hardware means that it has the ability to host applications designed specifically for your needs. Previously, many companies shied away from app development because it required highly skilled developers and devices capable of hosting those apps – a combination that wasn’t readily available. Today, the scene has changed. With the rise of Node-RED, it is much easier today to create proprietary applications without a computer engineering degree, and any company serious about leveraging IIoT technology needs to be able to to use the full scope of its data.

4) Secure your communications.

There isn’t much more to be said about the importance of cybersecurity. If the last few years of massive data breaches haven’t rung alarm bells, then you aren’t paying attention. Cybersecurity today is a multi-layered need. Most companies building smart hardware are beginning to build encryption directly into the devices. But, since many companies use Cloud applications for computing and analytics, it is important to invest in strong security measures at that level as well. Unfortunately, the sophistication of cyber-attacks are only going to increase, along with the increase in importance of the data needing to be protected. It pays to be paranoid and act accordingly.

Further Reading:

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Going beyond connected buildings

Connecting smart buildings to smart grid, smart transportation, & other smart services is the need of the hour to truly manifest the potential of IoT . However, communicating with numerous systems made up of different protocols is a major challenge faced by integrators. Protocol converters are widely used to convert protocol A to B, but such devices do not offer ease of configuration and flexibility demanded by IoT. The solution to this is a universal gateway – a device that transacts data between two or more data sources using communication protocols specific to each of them. The Universal gateway is also termed as a universal protocol gateway. Such products include a combination of hardware & software, and used to connect data from one automation system like building automation to another like a smart grid.

Role of universal gateway in building automation

 

A typical building automation system comprises of five key components:

  1. I/O modules with multi-protocol implementation including open source, proprietary and wireless
  2. Controllers with multi-control loop implementation such as PID, Adaptive, Rule-Based and software based on multiple platforms like TIFreescaleQualcommNVidia
  3. Data storage & analytics with diverse DBMS like SQL, Mongo DB, Oracle along with varied Data Analytics through Sensor Data, Statistical modelling, Predictive analytics, and Real-time Analytics
  4. Dashboards & Apps with web-based or mobile-based Intuitive dashboards for data monitoring and apps for various OS and devices
  5. Gateways that enable communication of data between the above four data sources using communication protocols specific to each other

In building automation, connectivity technologies have propelled the adoption of connected smart devices for remote sensing, actuating and intelligent monitoring. Industry bodies and standards like BACnet International, Echelon Corporation, are extending or adopting different communication protocols to devices used in building automation, smart grid, etc. to make disparate solutions work seamlessly together. BACnet, Lonworks & other similar protocols have enabled standardization in Building automation. Different systems like HVAC, surveillance camera, access control, BMS, fire protection, audio-visual, lighting are integrated, monitored & controlled on a single system.

The Universal Gateway or Universal Protocol Gateway is an external, high-performance, multiprotocol gateway for integrating HVAC, surveillance camera, access control, fire protection controls into building management systems (BMS) & in turn integrating BMS into Internet of Things (IoT). These gateways also offer bidirectional data flow between devices on selected points.
Universal gateways support various standard protocols like Profibus FMS, DP-Master, DP-Slave, LonTalk, BACnet Ethernet, IP and PTP (RS232), Modbus serial, MODBUS/IP, M-Bus, EIB (European Installation bus), OPC, and many other proprietary protocols.

Benefits of custom-built universal gateways

Universal gateways are generally designed & developed to cater to the needs of mass market. Typically it caters to a limited set of protocol combinations, including a serial bus, a Fieldbus or real-time Ethernet protocols. Custom-built universal gateways provide a flexible platform for a transparent conversion of building automation / industrial automation protocols, thereby enabling connection of networks of different I/O, Controllers and OEM brands. Such gateways are quite flexible, with hundreds of protocol combinations possible through them.

In addition, custom-built universal gateways are software-focused and offer ease of configuration for protocols like CAN, DeviceNet, PROFIBUS, BACnet, LonTalk, Ethernet/IP, Modbus TCP, POWERLINK, CC-Link, EtherCAT, SERCOS III, MB/RTU, RS422, RS485, MB ASCII RS232, Controller Area Network, DeviceNet, FOUNDATION fieldbus, HART, C-Bus, Z-Wave, Zigbee and the like. In summary, use of universal gateways help in developing M2M communication and can aid in enabling IoT efficiently.

Originally Published on eInfochips Blogs

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Why There’s No Killer App for IoT

Guest Post by Daniel Elizalde

Every new technology trend brings speculation and talk about a “killer app” that will be the solution to all of our problems.

Tech publications and blogs produce countless articles searching for the “killer app” for the iPhone, the Cloud, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and of course, IoT. We’ve also even seen the same hype for development processes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that Agile is that silver bullet. Or maybe it was Lean, or Kanban? Hard to keep track.

But as a Product Manager, we can’t keep chasing the next big thing all the time. It’s true we need to understand where technology is going, but we need to be more pragmatic and realize there is no single “killer app” for anything. Particularly for IoT.

Is predictive maintenance the killer app for IoT?

Predictive maintenance refers to the practice of adding sensors to collect and analyze real-time data from industrial equipment to predict when it is likely to fail.

I often talk to companies who want to get into IoT by offering predictive maintenance solutions. They are interested not because they’ve spotted a customer need, but because they’ve heard that predictive maintenance is where the money’s at in IoT. In essence, somebody convinced them that predictive maintenance is the killer app for IoT.

It is true that predictive maintenance is getting a lot of traction with industrial companies, but that’s because it addresses a tough problem that those particular companies already had. Not because predictive maintenance in itself is the solution to all problems.

My advice is this: Instead of looking for the killer app for IoT, companies should focus on understanding their customer’s needs and evaluating how they can leverage the Internet of Things to solve those problems in a better, faster, or cheaper way.

In short, by understanding your customer’s needs, you can design the right killer app for that particular customer challenge.

If you stop considering IoT as a silver bullet and instead look at it as another tool in your portfolio, you can move past the hype and start working towards building real solutions.

Other innovative applications leveraging the Internet of Things

To drive this point home, I’d like to share a few real-world applications in use today. Notice that these products are not creating a new category of problems. Instead, they provide more efficient solutions to existing customer problems. These companies understood their customer’s challenge and then leveraged IoT by asking the question, “How can I provide a better solution by acquiring and processing real-world signals from my customer’s environments?”

If you think about it, acquiring and processing real-world signals is one of the key attributes of IoT, so with that in mind, what innovative solution could you create for your customers?

Reducing traffic congestion via smart parking

As cities grow, so does their traffic congestion. And in many cities, a big contributor to this congestion is lack of parking spaces. Think about cities like San Francisco or New York. Drivers spend a lot of time circling around buildings trying to find a parking space. This in turn increases the traffic of already congested areas.

Some cities are looking at IoT to address this issue. By placing sensors on the street and on lighting posts, cities are able to track which parking spots are available and offer this information to companies who can monetize this data via apps or other types of services.

The parking information is also aggregated in the Cloud and allows cities to study traffic patterns to plan for better solutions in the future.

Optimizing waste collection

A company in the Netherlands is using the Internet of Things to track waste through its complete lifecycle. They place sensors in each of their bins to inform waste collectors when the bin is full and needs attention. This allows them to optimize collection routes and minimize the time and effort it takes to collect this waste.

Their collection trucks are also equipped with load sensors that determine, in real-time, the amount of waste that the main disposal center can expect as the trucks approach their destination.

Increasing resiliency in the electric grid

To increase resiliency in the electric grid, utilities around the world are leveraging IoT solutions to detect where power was interrupted so they can send a team to fix it right away. It used to take hours before utilities could determine the exact location of a fault. Today, they have this information in real-time plus they can apply machine learning to anticipate the location where faults are likely to occur.

Helping with conservation efforts

The applications for the Internet of Things go across all industries and verticals. For example, teams in Africaare leveraging IoT to prevent elephant poaching. The teams tag each elephant with a smart collar and track the elephant’s location and motion patterns.

The information collected by the collar is analyzed in the Cloud by specialized algorithms. Some of these algorithms can detect when an elephant becomes immobile, which could be a sign of an attack by poachers. The system sends alerts to the wildlife management bodies who provide fast response.

The Bottom Line

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there is no one, single killer app for IoT. Instead, any company can create the right killer app that solves the need of their specific customer, in their specific industry and vertical.

In this post, I shared a handful of examples, but we are seeing applications in all industries, from Healthcare, to Energy, to Smart Agriculture, Smart Buildings, Transportation, etc. Companies in all industries are looking to adopt IoT as the catalyst to improve their existing solutions.

So as a Product Manager, where do you start? Forget trying to chase the killer app. The first step is to have a clear understanding of your customer’s needs.

The second step is to understand how you could improve your solution by collecting and processing real-world signals and therefore, providing a better, faster, cheaper, or more innovative solution to your customer—one that provides a lot of value and they can’t wait to give you money for.

This story was originally published here.

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How to enable IoT Gateway Hardware Security?

In IoT ecosystem, gateway security is of prime importance since it is the key piece of data collection in the connected system. But how to ensure security of IoT gateways? Read this blog to find different ways to secure IoT gateways.

Along with many technological, environmental, and economic benefits, the rapidly moving connected world also represents an array of growing attacks like side-channel attacks, fault attacks, physical tampering, etc. Considering these risks, ensuring security and robustness of IoT becomes inevitable, in which IoT gateways play an important role.

IoT Gateways are undoubtedly the heroes of whole IoT paradigm, as they are the key piece of data collection in the connected system. In IoT ecosystem, security is the key aspect, in which, IoT gateway security is of prime importance since a secured gateway enables robustness of the entire IoT environment. If there are no sufficient security measures, there are chances of potential risks like malicious threats, spoofing, man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, data snooping, etc. If you lose a gateway in the middle of the communication chain, it will jeopardize the entire IoT ecosystem as gateway act as a gate or bridge between the edge devices and cloud.

So how do you know whether your IoT gateway is secure or not?

Listed below are some common questions related to the security of IoT gateways. If your concern matches with any of the below questions, then there is the need to consider gateway security for your IoT ecosystem:

  • How can edge device sense and prohibit unsecured gateways, or vice versa?
  • How can peripherals ensure their data are successfully relayed in the face of gateways?
  • What happens if someone snoops the data from the gateway?
  • What if the gateway is located in a remote location and is sending incorrect information to the cloud? In this case, how can gateways help in reverting information?
  • Is it possible for gateways to build and demonstrate reputation-based trust?

Trustworthiness of gateway is the key aspect in the IoT ecosystem. To overcome the security concern, let’s explore some of the key hardware security aspects that can be implemented to secure IoT gateways.

TPM (Trusted Platform Module)

What is TPM?

It is a microprocessor that integrates with system hardware on a gateway to perform crypto operations, such as key generation, key storage and protects small amounts of sensitive information, such as passwords, measurement data for boot software and cryptographic keys to provide hardware-based security.

How does it work?

TPM is often built into a system to provide hardware-based security. It is a combination of hardware and software to protect credentials when they are in unencrypted form.  TPM is based on a trusted execution environment (hardware root of trust) that provides secure storage of credentials and protected execution of cryptographic operations. It is isolated from the main CPU and implemented either as a discrete chip, a security coprocessor or in firmware.

  • Microprocessor scans the firmware and validates the key. If the key is valid, then the processor begins executing the firmware, but if not then, processor halts.
  • The TPM is used to store platform measurements that help ensure that the platform remains trustworthy. It contains a set of registers that comprise of RTM measurements for launch modules of the boot software.
  • The computing platform must have a root of trust for measurement (RTM) that is implicitly trusted to provide an accurate validation of the boot code modules. The TPM provides the root of trust for reporting and a root of trust storage for the RTMs. The TPM stores a set of “known good” measurements of boot components that are securely generated and stored.

Hardware Root of Trust/Chain of Trust: It is the fundamental part of secured computing. The secure boot process is utilized to implement a chain of trust.

  • Bootstrapping is a secure system or device that involves a chain of steps, where each step relies on the accuracy and security of the previous one. At the end of the chain, you assume or verify the correctness of the last step – this step becomes the Root of Trust (RoT). The Root of Trust is provided by hardware services, including cryptographic support, secure key storage, secure signature storage, and secure access to trusted functions. This allows the creation of a trusted module forming the basis, or root, for validating other components within the system.  The chain of trust begins with the bootloader.  From this boot loader, the OS is validated, and from the OS, the applications are validated, creating a chain of trusted elements.

TEE (Trusted Execution Environment)

What is TEE?  

The TEE is an insulated and secure area of the main processor providing security functionality for application integrity and confidentiality. The TEE differentiates between security functionality and operational functionality.

How does it work?

  • It mainly consists of three parts: Trusted OS, internal micro-kernel, and APIs. Used for security check parallel to standard OS.
  • Common security functions include isolated execution of security operations, the integrity of code loaded and data stored and confidentiality of data stored in the TEE. It protects data-at-rest and data-in-use within the TEE.
  • It also provides higher performance and access to a large amount of memory.

Security properties that TEE can achieve

  1. Isolated execution
  2. Secure storage
  3. Device identification
  4. Device authentication
  5. Platform integrity

All the above security properties can be achieved using the measured boot, secured boot, and attestation.

  • Secured Boot: It is a security standard verified by the trusted OEMs that ensures authenticity and integrity of a device’s boot. When the first boot happens, only the validated code from the device OEM is allowed to run to verify and validate the authenticity of software present in the gateway. This prevents attackers from replacing the firmware with versions created to perform malicious operations. It provides the APIs required for code signing, code validation, and secure firmware updates.
  • Measured Boot: Measured boot is generally used for integrity protectionAs anti-malware software has become better at detecting runtime malware, attackers are also becoming better at creating rootkits that can hide from detection. Detecting malware that starts early in the boot cycle is a challenge. At this time, measured boot measures each block, from firmware up through the boot start drivers, stores those measurements on the hardware, and then makes a log that can be tested remotely to verify the boot state of the client.
  • Attestation: In cloud computing scenario, attestation is an essential and interesting parameter, often rooted in having trusted hardware component to build trusted system. It is basically used in the process of validating integrity in terms of software and information for securing embedded systems. Attestation uses cryptography identity techniques that confirm the identity and authentication credentials of remote devices, without revealing the devices and their own identities.

IoT gateways are crucial to addressing the inherent complexity. By using the pre-ensured hardware building blocks like TEE and TPM, you can secure the whole communication chain from the connectivity of legacy devices, data storage on a gateway, secure data transmission as well as the fast deployment of data on the cloud to perform intelligent analytics.  There should be some programmable architecture that ensures confidentiality and integrity against specific attacks. So, layered IoT gateway security is essential.

For more information on our security capabilities, visit: From edge to cloud: A comprehensive look at IoT device security

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How Can You Cope With The Rise Of Dark Data

At this point, everyone has heard about what big data analytics can do for marketing, research, and internal productivity. However, the data only about 20% of all data created is collected and analyzed. The other 80% is known as dark data, or data that collected but not analyzed or made to be searchable. So, what is the purpose of this data, and why is it taking up terabytes worth of storage space on servers around the world?

Examples of Dark Data

  • Media: Audio, video and image files oftentimes will not be indexed, making them difficult to gain insights from. Contents of these media files, such as the people in the recording or dialogue within a video, will remain locked within the file itself.

  • Social Data: Social media analytics have improved drastically over the last few years. However, data can only be gathered from a user’s point of entry to their exit point. If a potential customer follows a link on Facebook, then send the visited website to five friends in a group chat, the firm will not realize their advertisement had 6 touchpoints, not just the one.

  • Search Histories: For many companies, especially in the financial service, healthcare, and energy industries, regulations are a constant concern. As legal compliance standards change, firms worry that they will end up deleting something valuable.

As analytics and automation improve, more dark data is beginning to be dragged out into the light. AI, for example, is getting far better at speech recognition. This allows media files to be automatically tagged with metadata and audio files to be transcribed in real time. Social data is also starting to be tracked with far better accuracy. In doing so, companies will be able to better understand their customers, their interests, and their buying habits. This will allow marketers to create limited, targeted ads based on a customers location that bring in more revenue while reducing cost.

The explosion of data we are currently seeing is only the tip of the big data iceberg. As IoT and wearable devices continue their integration into our daily lives, the amount of data we produce will only grow. Companies are looking to get ahead of the curve and ensure they can gain as much insight from this data as possible. If these firms do not have a plan to create actionable insights from this currently dark data, they ultimately could fall behind and lose out to competitors with a bigger focus on analytics.

The original story was published on ELEKS Trends Blog, visit to get more insights. 

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IIoT protocols for the beginners

We all know HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol). These are the first 4 alphabets which see on any URL of a website you open in your browser. In simple terms, it is a list of rules that define do’s and don’ts of communication between web browser and web server. It is like you (web browser) going to ATM (webserver) to get some cash (request). Here the HTTP will describe the complete procedure – enter pin, amount, etc. You get your cash (result) once you follow the mentioned steps. Quite simple.

The World Wide Web (WWW) works on HTTP as it is the only protocol used there for the data transfer. However, this is not the case in the Industrial (I) IoT world. Here we have a bunch of protocols to choose depending on the type of application or so-called “use case”. The most common among them are MQTT, CoAP and of course HTTP. Before we discuss them, let us first have a look at certain networking terminologies and definitions.

Source: Pixabay

Transport layer protocols (TCP, UDP)

Transport layer protocol, as the name implies, is responsible for transportation of message or information from one computer to another. The transport of the information can be done in two ways:

  1. Connectionless protocol (UDP): This kind of protocol is preferred in cases where speed and efficiency are more important than the reliability. In this case the data is sent without establishing or waiting for a connection. This means that a bit or segment of data can get lost during transportation. A typical example of such protocol is live video streaming where sometimes bad connection results in the fragmented video. For example, imagine yourself bringing a bunch of letters to the postbox and dropping them inside. You are just dropping the letters inside the box without knowing whether they will be delivered to their recipients. This is the case with connectionless protocols. On the other hand, bringing all these letters to the post office and ordering a return receipt for them, thus ensuring their delivery, can be compared to a connection-oriented protocol.
  1. Connection-oriented protocol (TCP): Here the protocol ensures the receipt of a message at the other end without any data loss on the way, thus ensuring a reliable transport. The connection-oriented protocol needs extra overhead (discussed later) as compared to the connectionless protocol. Just like, it takes extra resources (time, money) to order a registered letter with return receipt.

Packet and Packet size 

packet contains data (payload) along with information (header) like source, destination, size etc. Just like a DHL packet that contains stuff to be shipped along with information like address, weight, dimension etc. packet size in networking, is the amount of data (in bytes) carried over the transport layer protocols.

Overhead

It is the extra information (in bytes) or features associated with the packet which ensures the reliable delivery of the data. In other terms, it is that bubble wrap foil around your shipment that is not necessarily needed but provides an extra layer of safety and reliability for a safe shipment of your parcel.

The amount of overhead associated with the packet depends on the type of transport protocol used. UDP in comparison to TCP has smaller overhead.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the rate (bits/MB/GB per seconds) at which the data transfer takes place. The larger the bandwidth, the more data can be transferred at a given time.

So that was a crash course on networking. Now let us try to understand the mentioned IIoT protocols using these terminologies.

Message Queue Telemetry Transport or simply MQTT is a lightweight messaging protocol for industrial and mobile applications. It is best suited for application where network bandwidth and power usage are limited, for example, small sensor, remote location applications, machine to machine communication. MQTT communicates with a server over TCP and unlike HTTP works on publish subscriber model (see figure below).

 

Fig. Example of a publish subscriber model used in MQTT

In order to understand the concept behind the MQTT, one should try to understand the underlying architecture “The publish-subscriber model”. Here a client publishes a message or a topic (temperature, humidity) to a broker that in turn sends these topics out to clients interested in subscribing to that message.

 

The publish subscriber model used in MQTT offers a couple of advantages as compared to the standard client-server model used in HTTP. Multicast, scalability and low power consumption are among the top three. These advantages are due to the fact that the publish-subscriber model overcomes some of the structural (one to one communication, tight coupling, fault sensitive) drawbacks of the traditional client-server model.

Let’s have a look at an analogy in order to understand the difference. Let us assume that MQTT and HTTP are two publishing companies: MQTT publishes magazines on various topics (sports, politics, cars, etc.) and provides them to a broker who in turn distributes them to subscribers interested in one or more topics. This way MQTT can cater many (multicast) subscribers at a given time, thus it is scalable. Since he only has to deal with a broker whom he contacts once a day, his investment (power consumption) in maintaining the business is not high.

 

HTTP, another publisher, likes to deal with one customer at a time. He highly relies on his customer and on his value chain (server to server). This, however, comes at a cost of relatively high business investment (power consumption) since he has to visit his customer each time for a handshake.

 

MQTT in contrast to HTTP is best suited for an application where bandwidth, packet size and power are at a premium. An industry generator with battery-powered temperature and humidity sensor cannot afford to maintain a connection with server each time it has to push the measured values (event or message) into the cloud. MQTT is just designed to overcome such constraints where the connection is maintained by using a very little power and the commands and events can be received with as little as 2 bytes of overhead (extra resources needed for operation).

 

Constrained Application Protocol or simply CoAP, is a UDP based protocol, which is mostly interpreted as a light version of HTTP (except the fact that HTTP works over TCP). It is specially designed to work in a constrained environment with limited bandwidth and power constraints, where communication has to be fast and ongoing. Unlike HTTP, CoAP can support one to many (multicast) requirements and is faster than other TCP based protocols which makes it a good choice for M2M.

 

It is quite common to see the device to device (D2D) or device to gateway (D2G) communication done over CoAP and the communication between gateway and cloud is HTTP job. This is due to the fact that there is a well-defined mapping between these two protocols.

So, if both MQTT and CoAP are good for the constrained environment, then what makes one better than another? The answer lies in the underlying transport layer their use. MQTT is better suited for event-based communication in a constrained environment where data needs to be sent in batches (for instance temperature and humidity values) and at regular intervals over a reliable channel.

CoAP is a better choice for continuous conditioning monitoring scenario in a constrained environment. Since it runs over UDP, CoAP offers faster communication among the devices which makes it a better option for M2M/D2D/D2G communication. CoAP is also best suited for web-based IIoT application where it has to work along with HTTP. In such a setup, you have CoAP at sensor side and HTTP running between proxy/gateway and cloud.

What about HTTP? It is on demand whenever you want to push a big chunk of data from gateway/industry modem/computer into the cloud or a web-based application without compromising on security. Here regardless of how data is collected and sent to a gateway (CoAP vs MQTT) if it comes to reliable big package delivery, then HTTP takes the front seat. Moreover, HTTP is still used as a standard protocol for devices who do not support any other protocols.

MQTT or CoAP or HTTP, it is a matter of speed vs reliability vs security, whichever suits your use case the best.

I hope you enjoyed reading the article and that it helped you to get at least a basic understanding of the major IIoT protocols. Your feedback, comments or suggestions are always welcome.

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An Open and Dangerous Place

Let’s just say it: The public internet is great, but it’s an unfit, wide-open place to try to conduct confidential business.

More and more, the public nature of the internet is causing business and government leaders to lose sleep. The global ransomware attacks this year that crippled infrastructure and businesses across Europe clearly shows the concern is not only justified but also growing.

As a result, internet and privacy regulations, like GDPR and PSD2, are front and center as governments around the world increasingly look at the web and how it’s being used. This is creating competing and contradictory objectives.

On the one hand, governments want to protect consumer privacy and data; on the other, they want to be able to monitor what certain folks are up to on the internet. And in both cases, they can at least claim to be looking to protect people.

Regardless of the difficulty of the task, there is no doubt the big governments are circling and considering their options.

Speaking in Mexico in June, Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel touted the need for global digital rules, like those that exist for financial markets, and that those rules need to be enforceable through bodies like the World Trade Organization.

From a business perspective, I can applaud the ambition, but it does seem a little like trying to control the uncontrollable. The truth is that the public internet has come to resemble the old Wild West. It is an increasingly dangerous place to do business, with more than its fair share of rustlers, hustlers, and bandits to keep at bay.

The public internet connects the world and nearly all its citizens. When it comes to connecting businesses, national infrastructures, and governments themselves, trying to regulate the Wild West of the public internet simply isn’t an option. Instead, it’s time to take a step back and look for something different.

We believe organizations that want to conduct business, transfer data, monitor equipment and control operations globally – with certainty, security and privacy – should not be relying on the public internet. The sheer number of access points and endpoints creates an attack surface that is simply too wide to protect, especially with the increased trending of fog and edge networks that we’ve discussed on previous Syniverse blog posts.

Just last week, the online gaming store CEX was hacked. In an instant, around two million customers found their personal information and financial data had been exposed. Consumers in America, the U.K. and Australia are among those affected. As I said, the public internet presents an ever-widening attack surface.

Recently on the Syniverse blog, we’ve been talking about the need to develop private, closed networks where businesses, national utilities and governments can truly control not just access, but activity. Networks that are always on and ones where the owners always know who is on them and what they are doing. Networks that are private and built for an exact purpose, not public and adaptable.

Trying to apply or bolt on rules, regulations and security processes after the fact is never the best approach.  Especially if you are trying to apply them to a service that is omnipresent and open to anybody 24/7.

When we look at the public internet, we see fake actors, state actors, hackers and fraudsters roaming relatively freely. We see an environment where the efforts to police that state might raise as many issues as they solve.

Instead, it’s time for global businesses to build a new world. It’s time to leave the old Wild West and settle somewhere safer. It’s time to circle the wagons around a network built for purpose. That is the future.

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An Inconvenient Truth

Here is the latest edition of the IoT Central Digest. Encourage your friends and colleagues to be a part of our community. Forward this to them. They can join IoT Central here. You can contribute your thoughts on IoT here.  

Security in the Internet of Things - an Inconvenient Truth

Posted by Rob Dyke 

The current political events in Barcelona provide us with a barely-needed reminder that we live in changing times.  I was in the city as part of the Trustonic team exhibiting at IoT Solutions World Congress last week and took some time to speak with fellow vendors. I soon saw some fantastic product demonstrations that drew my attention - I wanted to learn more. Frequently though, the response to: “This looks great - how is it secured? How do we know the data is trustworthy?” was a puzzled look and a “It uses our cloud and we secure that” or “It runs on a secure OS”.  Sometimes the response was worse: “It’s a closed network. You couldn’t attack it”.

IoT is Not Just IT - Focus on Customer Outcomes and Integrated Teams

Posted by Michael Riemer 

Are your IoT initiatives doomed for failure? A recent study by Cisco suggests that 75% of IoT initiatives will fail. But with an estimated 80+ billion connected devices over the next half century, companies cannot afford to ignore the opportunity. Based on learnings from both wins and losses over the last 10 years, an integrated, customer-centric approach will help ensure smarter and more successful IoT investments. Here is a 5-step approach to consider:

Rise of the Intelligent Revenue Machines

Posted by James Branigan 

An early theme of digital transformation was the notion of selling services rather than products. A contract with the “thing maker” to circulate cooling fluid throughout my factory rather than a purchase order for me to buy the pumps and filters needed to do it myself, for example. The contract lets me focus on creating products for my customers rather than maintaining the machines making this possible. I don’t want to spend time on the process (pumps and filters), I just need the outcome (properly cooled machines) in the least distracting way possible to my core business of producing goods, medicine, energy, etc. The contract lets you, purveyor of the connected pumps and filters, build a closer relationship with me, streamline your business, and avoid competing in an increasingly commoditized space.

Customers Want Better Outcomes, not Smarter Products

Posted by James Branigan 

To paraphrase Geoffrey Moore, smart “thing makers” are investing in IoT solutions for their customers today in order to generate more revenue for themselves tomorrow. Traditional hardware vendors are being commoditized and replaced whenever a cheaper “good enough” option comes along. To thrive in the long run, your value must be “sticky”, embedded in your customer’s business, providing benefit to their customers as well. The “things” you sell now simply enable your customers to run their basic operations. Whenever a part breaks, customers make a decision to order a new one either from you or a competitor. How differentiated is your equipment from the rest of the market? Your business is constantly at risk.

How Robotic Process Automation helping Digital Age

Posted by Sandeep Raut  

Digital has brought in so many technological advances to this age and one of them is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). A simple definition of RPA is, automation of business processes across the enterprise using software robots. Any repetitive task which requires some decision making is an ideal candidate for RPA. Automation has become an integral part of Digital Transformation. Implementing these software robots to perform routine business processes and eliminate inefficiencies is the key for business leaders.

 


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