Can open source solve the too many IoT standards problem?

April 22, 2016

An important issue in the IoT industry is the plethora of IoT standards that exist today and new standards being created. The current situation for IoT standards has been described as a ‘Trainwreck for IoT Vendors‘ and the implication being IoT solutions are going to be pretty dumb. In the recent IoT Developer Survey, interoperability was one of the top concerns, so it is definitely been on the minds of IoT developers.

If we look at why there are so many IoT standards, there are many answers. The simple fact is that all standards are not created equal and some solve very different problems. Many of the different standards exist at different layers of the stack; just like the Internet. There is also lot of innovation required in the IoT industry to enable many of the use cases,  for example, LPWAN. We also have to remember IoT is not new. Lots of industries have have massive investments in equipment that uses an existing standard that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Those are some of the valid reasons for the different IoT standards. Of course, they are many not great reasons; as the saying goes ‘standards are like toothbrushes, everyone wants to use one but not other peoples’. XKCD captures the spirit of the worst possible situation for a new IoT standard.

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It is time we accept there will be a plethora of IoT standards. Some will become more widely adopted than others, some will fail but we will never get to the ‘one IoT standard to rule them all’. It is just not realistic.

However, we still need to solve the issue of interoperability. There are many use cases of Things/Devices that communicate using different standards but will need to communicate in a consistent manner. It seems to me the only way this interoperability challenge will be solved is in software and ideally open source software. We need an open software platform that enables the standards bazaar and not try to create a cathedral. Kai Kreuzer, Eclipse SmartHome project leader, has published a great video on this topic for Home Automation.

Interoperability is not going to be solved in standards groups. It is going to be solved with running software. Open source IoT platforms are going to be the bedrock for the IoT industry. There is just no other way it will work.


Profile of an IoT Developer: Results of the IoT Developer Survey

April 14, 2016

Today we release the results of our second annual IoT Developer Survey. Like last year it provides an interesting insight into how developers are building IoT solutions.

This year the Eclipse IoT Working Group partnered with IEEE IoT and the AGILE-IoT research project to expand the scope and respondent pool for the survey. Thanks to this partnership, we had 528 participants in the survey, up from 392 last year. The partnership also allowed us to analyze the data to look for any significant difference between the different IoT communities.

As with any surveys of this nature, I encourage readers to see these results as one data point that should be compared with other data and industry trends. These results will have certain biases but I do believe these results identify some interesting trends in the IoT industry.

Key Trends for IoT developers

  1. Companies are shipping IoT solutions today. 46% of the respondents claim their company develops and deploys an IoT solution today. Another 29% plan to do so in the next 6 months. This is a clear indication the industry is maturing quickly.

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  1. Security continues to be a key concern. It’s not a big surprise that security continues to be the top concern in IoT. Interoperability is the second key concern. I do believe we are on the way to solving some of the interoperability issues with projects like Eclipse Hono, Eclipse Smarthome and Eclipse Kura. I also think some of the work the AGILE-IoT project is doing will address these issues. However, it still seems the IoT industry still needs to focus on security. It is a difficult issue that needs to be solved.For companies that have deployed a solution today, performance is rising to the third key concern. It is not clear what the performance issues are, but it is something that warrants more investigation.

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  1. Top IoT programming languages: Java, C, JavaScript, Python.  Not surprising to see these languages as being the most popular for developers. I do find some people question the use of Java in IoT. The Eclipse IoT community has a number of Java projects, so there is some bias in the results toward Java. However, even when removing the respondents from the Eclipse IoT community, the top 3 languages are C, Python and Java.

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  1. MQTT and HTTP are the dominant message protocols.Without a doubt MQTT has become a pervasive and widely used protocol for IoT. HTTP being the other protocol.
    The other messaging protocol supported in the Eclipse IoT community is CoAP. It did not receive as much support, but it does appear to have support in certain industries. For instance, the use of CoAP increases if the respondent is in the IoT Platforms or Smart Cities industry. The fact IoT Platforms are supporting CoAP is expected and a good thing. It does seem Smart Cities industry is using CoAP but I am not sure where or how. If anyone has details, please leave a comment.As an aside, the success of MQTT is a testament to IBM’s strategy to standardize MQTT at OASIS and start the Eclipse Paho project. It really is a perfect case study for using open source and open standards to gain broad industry adoption. For example, 1) MQTT is now supported by IBM Bluemix, Amazon AWS IoT, MS Azure IoT, plus every other  IoT middleware platform in the market, 2) the new Arduino board is also using MQTT to communicate with their cloud, and 3) Eclipse Paho and Eclipse Mosquitto are some of the most popular and active projects at Eclipse. MQTT is everywhere. Well done IBM.

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  1. Linux is the dominant IoT operating system. Over 70% of the respondents claimed they use Linux for their IoT operating system. The next more popular section at 23% was No OS/Bare metal. In the last number of years, a number of new IoT operating systems have been introduced (ex. ARM mbed, Contiki, RIOT, Zephyr) but the adoption still hasn’t materialized. It seems many companies are using Yocto to create their own Linux distro for their IoT solution. It will be interesting to watch how these other operating systems grow in comparison to Linux.

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  1. Amazon leads in IoT cloud services. Not terribly surprising Amazon came out on top as the top cloud service provider. However, Private/On premise was a close second so I think this is an indication that IoT cloud services is still in its infancy. What did surprise me was that Microsoft Azure was number 3 in the survey and does even better when a company has a deployed solution. This seems to reflect MS Azure’s heavy emphasis on IoT use cases.

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  1. Open source is pervasive in IoT. I strongly believe open source is critical to the success of the IoT industry. Therefore, I was encouraged to see 58% of the respondents are actively engaged with open source. I think it is a great statement on the work we have been doing at Eclipse IoT to create an open source community for the IoT industry.

 

Trends between 2015 and 2016

This is the second year we have done this type of survey so I was curious what has changed between 2015 and 2016. Interestingly enough, not a lot has changed. Many of the trends and highlights mentioned above are consistent with the 2015 results. This consistency would appear to confirm that the results are a good reflection of how developers are building IoT solutions.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey. We definitely appreciate your input. The complete results are available on slideshare and the raw data in xls and ods format. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.


EclipseCon Wrap-up: Eclipse Che, Microsoft, and much more

March 11, 2016

EclipseCon 2016 was an exciting week of great technical sessions, announcements and lots of hall-way conversations.

Here is a summary of the highlights:

Announcing Eclipse Che

We did a major announcement of Eclipse Che project. Tyler Jewel, Eclipse Che project leader and CEO of Codenvy, did a great job as the opening keynote for EclipseCon and presenting his vision of the future of IDEs.  The key concept about Che is the universal workspace.

Thanks to InfoQ for recording Tyler’s keynote.

An important part of the Che announcement was the support from some significant vendors, including:

 

Microsoft Joins the Eclipse Foundation

The other big announcement was Microsoft joining the Eclipse Foundation as a Solution member. This is big news for the Eclipse community and demonstrates how Microsoft is really changing their attitudes toward open source and Eclipse.

The loud round of applause from the EclipseCon attendees shows that the Eclipse community really welcomes MS participation. It also turned out to be hugely popular on twitter. The above tweet was re-tweeted over 180 times.

IoT Announcements

I really enjoyed the IoT Summit. It was a nice mix of Eclipse IoT project and other IoT topics, like the ThingsNetwork, Apache Spark, etc.

Some of the IoT related announcements include:

 

Overall, an exciting but exhausting week. It will be nice to enjoy my vacation next week.:-)


Open IoT at CeBIT

March 3, 2016

In two weeks, CeBIT, one of the world’s largest tech trade show, will begin. As you would expect, this year CeBIT will have a focus on the Internet of Things (IoT). In Europe, especially Germany, IoT is very focused on the Industrial IoT and the Industry 4.0 initiative, so this will be a big deal at CeBIT.

The Eclipse IoT Working Group will be well represented at CeBIT. Mike Milinkovich is  giving an ‘Open IoT’ keynote talk on March 15 in Hall 13. Benjamin Cabe will be demoing Eclipse IoT technology in the Eurotech booth.

In fact, Eurotech is showcasing at CeBIT the power an open IoT strategy can have for company. Eurotech is a huge supporter of the Eclipse IoT Working Group and leads the Eclipse Kura project. They have also been actively involved in open standards like MQTT and OSGi.  Their commitment to IoT open source and IoT open standards has allowed them to create a significant partner ecosystem and showcase at CeBIT, including Red Hat, Hitachi High-Tech, BitReactive, Eclipse, OSGi Alliance, Om7Sense, Misurio, ELCO, and FSI.

For IoT to be successful, the industry needs to break down the proprietary silos that still dominate IoT solutions. A commitment to open standards and open source is how companies will win and grow their markets. If you are planning to attend CeBIT, check out the Eurotech booth in Hall 13 to see an open IoT strategy in action.

 


Participate in the IoT Developer Survey 2016

February 11, 2016

We are pleased to launch the 2016 edition of the IoT Developer Survey. This year the survey is collaboration between the Eclipse IoT Working Group, IEEE IoT Initiative and the AGILE Project.

The goal of the IoT Developer Survey is to better understand how IoT developers are building IoT solutions. The survey looks at a number of issues such as experience level, types of applications being developed, technology being used and perceptions of open hardware, open source and industry leaders. Last year we did a similar survey and the results provided an interesting snapshot of the IoT Developer community.

The survey should take about 5 minutes to complete. We hope anyone who has experience with IoT will participate and provide their feedback. The deadline to participate is March 25.

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The buzz around Eclipse Che

February 9, 2016

Just over two weeks ago the Eclipse Che project released a beta version of their Che 4.0 release. We published an article introducing Eclipse Che in our Eclipse Newsletter so readers can learn more about the highlights of Che.

The feedback in the community has been pretty exciting to watch. On twitter, people are certainly creating a buzz about the future of the IDE.

 

InfoWorld is calling Eclipse Che the launch of the cloud ide revolution.

The Eclipse Che GitHub repo has 1500 stars and 200 forks.

There have been over 100,000 downloads of the Che beta so people are trying it out.

The buzz is certainly growing around Eclipse Che. At EclipseCon in March you will be able to experience Eclipse Che first hand, including Tyler Jewell’s keynote address on the Evolution and Future of the IDE. If you are interested in the future of cloud IDEs then plan to attend EclipseCon

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Future trends for IoT, Open Source and Eclipse IoT

January 30, 2016

The Eclipse IoT community had great momentum in 2015. Benjamin has done a nice summary of 2015. However, I often get asked where I see IoT and open source going into the future. Below are some of the trends I’d like to see within the Eclipse IoT community for 2016. 

1. More Open Standards and Open Source Implementation

Eclipse IoT has been very successful providing implementations of IoT standards. Eclipse Paho and Eclipse Mosquitto are the de facto implementations for MQTT. Eclipse Leshan is building an amazing community around its LWM2M implementation. The IoT industry is embracing open standards and open source implementations.

In 2016, I’d like to see more implementations of IoT standards hosted at Eclipse IoT. Implementations of standards like OPC-UA or LoRaWAN would be a prefect addition for our community.

2. IoT Server Platform for Cloud-scale

For the most part, Eclipse IoT has been focused on the technology to connect and manager devices at the edge. The new Eclipse Hono project is going to expand the technology to the IoT Server. Having companies like Bosch and Red Hat be the project leaders is certainly a great combination for building the IoT server platform that integrates IoT into the enterprise and at cloud-scale.

3. Better tools for IoT developers

Building IoT solutions is not easy. We need to start working on better tools for developers. I’d love to see projects that focus on hardware simulation, testing tools, deployment tools, etc. Eclipse is known for providing IDEs and tools for developers. How about IDEs and tools for IoT developers?

4. IoT is polygot

The language of implementation for IoT solutions is not going to be dominated by one particular language. IoT is going to be polygot so it would be nice to see at Eclipse IoT more language implementations of IoT standards. How about a Go implementation of LWM2M, a Python MQTT broker, more language implementations of CoAP. Eclipse Kura is a fantastic Java-based IoT gateway but what about a gateway written in C or Python?

5. IoT Solutions for Industries

IoT is about deploying solutions for specifc industries. Eclipse IoT has open source projects for the SCADA and home automation industry. I’d like to see more industries represented in the Eclipse IoT community. A project focused on Smarter Cities or Connected Cars would be great open source projects.

Our goal for Eclipse IoT is to be the open source community for IoT developers. We want to provide the core building blocks that power IoT solutions. 2016 is going to be an exciting year.

If you would like to learn more about the future of Eclipse IoT, plan to attend the IoT Summit, March 8-9 in Reston VA.

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