The IoT in 2018: Four reasons to excited, four reasons to be worried

December 19, 2017

Stephen.Evanczuk-December 19, 2017

IoT platforms have dramatically lowered the barrier to entry to cloud-based applications

While emerging hardware solutions continue to simplify IoT device design in 2018, the continued emergence and evolution of IoT platforms hold equal promise for complementary cloud services.

Cloud-service offerings are evolving rapidly to cover the full extent of the IoT data chain from sensor devices in the periphery, local edge devices, cloud interface, and cloud application. In fact, developers can approach the cloud as a bottom-up interface from their device solutions or as a top-down extension of their IoT software applications.

Increasingly, traditional hardware providers offer cloud services designed to connect easily with their devices. While most IoT development kits include APIs and sample software demonstrating cloud integration, an increasing number offer quick access to cloud services provided by the vendor or in partnership with a third-party cloud provider. For example, the Renesas RX65N MCU Wi-Fi Connectivity Kit comes pre-integrated with access to the Renesas IoT Sandbox built on Medium One (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Hardware vendors such as Renesas package cloud services with development kits. (Source: Renesas)

Other vendor-provided cloud offerings are intended for production deployments rather than just development aids. For example, Samsung merged its Connect Cloud and Artik cloud services into a single platform, called the SmartThings Cloud. In Samsung’s view, developers building applications such as Marriott’s “IoT Hotel Room of the Future” can quickly connect Samsung Artik modules to the SmartThings Cloud and take advantage of features such as security built into the Artik hardware modules and extending through the IoT data chain.

Hardware vendor cloud offerings provide an important service in helping developers complete the cloud-segment of their IoT development project. Yet, these offerings typically lack the full set of services required to support enterprise-level IoT applications. In fact, enterprise cloud service providers including Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure have been aggressively continuing their top-down approach in extending enterprise services into the IoT.

The integration of FreeRTOS into the AWS IoT service demonstrates a particularly deep penetration into the IoT periphery. Developers simply download the appropriate FreeRTOS distribution and import it into their hardware development environment as appropriate. For example, developers using STMicroelectronics STM32L4 Discovery kit IoT node select the predefined configuration from the AWS management console and import it into STM32 System Workbench (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Amazon Web Services integration of FreeRTOS in its IoT tool chain further simplifies deployment on the cloud service. (Source: Amazon Web Services)

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