Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer a buzzword but it is a reality. IoT has become an integral part of most industries, and IoT platforms providers are playing a vital role in the seamless deployment of IoT devices. IoT platforms provide great value to your business, allowing you to build, deploy, and scale products and reduce development cost by streamlining the process. However, many stakeholders are still confused about what IoT platform they should go with.
Business among all industry domains are adopting IoT solutions. According to Statista, the total investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices is projected to amount to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025. To build your IoT solutions and connect devices you would need an IoT platform. Let’s see what IoT platforms are and how they can help you with your IoT developments.
IoT Ecosystem and IoT Platform
In order to understand the IoT cloud platform, first, we should talk about an IoT ecosystem. An IoT ecosystem consists of hardware (devices, sensors), software (software hosted in the cloud), connectivity (cellular, satellite, Wi-Fi) and a user interface (web application with dashboard). To unlock the true value of IoT we need to successfully integrate these components effectively.
The IoT platforms fall under either software or the IoT system user interface. With the advent of IoT with billions of devices are getting connected each day, that are able to compute, store and run multiple applications. This is where we need an integrated IoT platform.
IoT platforms help in connecting hardware or sensors, provide security to devices, handle hardware and software protocols, and collect, visualize, and analyze data the sensors/hardware collects. IoT Cloud platform as a service offers IoT devices and cloud computing capabilities.
There are several IoT cloud platform providers available in the market that helps in filling the gap between the device sensors and data networks. This can be divided into two types, the public IoT cloud providers and industrial IoT cloud providers. The public cloud services providers include the widely used cloud platforms like Microsoft, AWS, Google, and IBM.
The industrial IoT platforms include PTC- ThingWorx®, Bosch IoT Suite, GE-Predix, Honeywell’s Sentience, and Siemens’s MindSphere. Before evaluating the public and industrial IoT platforms let’s look at the factors we should consider while comparing the IoT cloud platforms.
Factors to be considered while comparing different IoT Cloud Platforms
The key factors that account for the selection of an IoT cloud platform depend on business and technical requirements. You should consider the Reliability, Scalability, Operations, Protocols, Hardware agnostic, Customization, Technology Stack, Cloud agnostic, Security, Support and Cost.
Evaluating the Top Public IoT Cloud Platforms
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are public cloud platforms that have IoT-specific components. Let’s evaluate them in detail. We will compare the key offerings of Microsoft Azure IoT Hub, AWS IoT Core and Google Cloud IoT Core
Azure IoT Hub
Azure IoT hub is a managed platform as service (PaaS) developed by Microsoft for various industry applications. It acts as a central message hub for two way communication between the IoT application and device. Azure IoT hubs enables you to build desired IoT solutions with reliable communication among IoT connected devices.
It supports device to cloud and cloud to device communication with support for multiple messaging patterns for example device-to-cloud telemetry. IoT hub also enables you to easy monitoring of IoT solution and perform regular health checks and record events like device creation, device failure, and device connections. The developers can containerize the cloud applications and locally run them on the device using the Microsoft Azure IoT edge. Containerization provides you higher speed in delivery of enhancement and improves security by isolating from the host system.
Key Advantages of Azure IoT Hub:
- It offers a data warehouse for storing the device metadata searchable using a specific search query
- Support almost all the languages for device libraries
- Azure IoT hub provides extensive device connectivity and data management
- Enable easy and secure peer connection to other azure services
- Devices can use different network protocols to setup seamless interconnection
AWS IoT Core
AWS IoT Core is a managed cloud platform from AWS that provides a seamless and secure connection between billions of connected devices and exchange trillions of messages. AWS IoT core enables us to easily build and scale IoT applications like connected home to industrial solutions.
Talking about the security AWS IoT core provides automatic authentication when the device first get connected and enable end-to-end encryption throughout the connection. This means the data is kept safe and never exchanged between the connected device and AWS IoT core without user permission.
AWS IoT Core can be integrated with other AWS services like:
- Amazon Simple Storage Service—provides scalable storage in the AWS Cloud
- AWS Lambda—runs your code on virtual servers from Amazon EC2 in response to events
- Amazon Kinesis—enables real-time processing of streaming data at a massive scale
- Amazon Simple Notification Service—sends or receives notifications
- Amazon DynamoDB—provides managed NoSQL databases
Similar to the Azure IoT Hub, AWS IoT Core also supports HTTP, WebSockets, and MQTT protocol.
Key Advantages of AWS IoT Core:
- AWS IoT Core supports both standard and custom protocols. Using custom protocol can establish communication with the other devices even though they are using different protocols.
- With AWS IoT core you can easily onboard connected devices in bulk
- For secure connection among various devices AWS provides a device defender
- Alexa Voice Service (AVS) Integration for remote management of devices
Google Cloud IoT Core
Similar to the Azure IoT Hub and AWS IoT core, Google also provides IoT platform services within its Google Cloud Platform services space. Google Cloud IoT Core is a manage service that allows you to Cloud IoT core operates on Google’s serverless infrastructure which automatically scales in response to real-time events. Using cloud Pub/Sub, you can manage the coming from decentralized device to a single centralized system. Talking about the security, Google Cloud IoT core securely connect millions of globally connected devices through protocol endpoints using horizontal scaling and automatic load balancing.
Similar to other two platforms, Cloud IoT core also supports standard MQTT and HTTP protocols. This allows you to use your existing devices without many firmware updates.
Key Advantages of Google Cloud IoT Core:
- Google cloud IoT core allows you perform downstream analytics by publishing device data to Cloud Pub/Sub
- You can also perform ad hoc analysis using Google BigQuery or run advanced analytics and apply machine learning with Cloud Machine Learning Engine.
- With power of Google Maps you can locate the devices IoT connected devices in real time and track them with precision.
Evaluating Top Industrial IoT (IIoT) Cloud Platforms
An industrial IoT platform is a software that allows industries to securely manage all the connected things like devices, people, and system. While selecting the IIoT platform you should consider the following key factors like Device Integration Capabilities, Process Integration, Data Integration and Ecosystem Services. Many industrial players like General Electric, Siemens, IBM, PTC, Bosch, Hitachi, ABB, Cisco, and Schneider have developed application-specific IIoT platforms. Let’s briefly evaluate a few of them,
Predix is a platform as a service IIoT based solution developed by General Electric. GE has developed Predix for factories to directly collect data from devices and store. GE Predix allows you to optimize assets and operations, reduce unplanned downtimes and provides real-time operational intelligence.
For industrial companies MindSphere offers set of pre-defined packages with tailored capabilities. You can securely connect your assets to MindSphere with auxiliary MindShpere products such as Data Capture Unit or MindConnect Nano which allows you to gather and transfer relevant machine and plant data. Using MindShpere you can collect all kind of sensor data from moving cars to geographic data.
ThingWorx® enables designers and developers to create and deploy connected solutions for embracing Industry 4.0. Using AR and digital twin you can create efficient and error proof production processes. ThingWorx® generates alters for system or device failure and also monitors the connectivity and operations for improving productivity and avoiding unplanned downtimes.
Bosch- IoT Suite
Bosch IoT Suite is the open source-based software IoT platform by Bosch. It provides easy access management and allows you to visualize digital representations of the IoT connected devices. It enables you to visualize all the data coming from diverse sources into a single dashboard.
With the advent of digital transformation, businesses are looking to leverage IoT for smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0. We saw there are many IoT cloud platforms in the market that provides customized industrial IoT solutions for various applications like remote asset management, predictive maintenance and connected operational intelligence.
IoT is perhaps one of the fastest technology that business is adopting to connect millions of devices. We see connected devices in home, cars, industries and they day by day they are getting smarter and efficient. In this article, we have evaluated many IoT platforms to kick start your IoT deployment. Choose the one that best suits your technical, application and business requirements.