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Cloud services have begun focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT), as evidenced by a spate of recent product introductions from the cloud giants, including AWS, Google and Microsoft. With these new announcements, IoT cloud services vendors seek to build an ecosystem that can win developers and capture the fast-growing market for enterprise IoT projects. In this tip, I scan the new IoT entries and offer advice for IoT product decision makers.
At the 2015 AWS re:Invent conference GE discussed its use of AWS to replace traditional data center workloads and as an IoT data processing engine. AWS launched an ambitious IoT service to manage intelligent "things" (connected devices and physical objects). The service includes an object abstraction layer (Shadows), object registry, message brokers and a message rules engine that can trigger other AWS services.
Not to be outdone, and in a pre-emptive strike the week before, Microsoft released an IoT suite that, like Amazon's, is designed to capture, integrate, analyze, and report information collected from myriad devices, with the cloud acting as the focal point for data aggregation and processing. Google also has an IoT message for its cloud services; however, it's not a cohesive product and it requires a DIY approach to stitch together existing services like Big Query, Cloud Pub/Sub (message bus) and Firebase to a streaming data backend.
Besides handling IoT data analysis, the other key requirement IoT cloud services must address is security. Here cloud services are ideal due to their proven ability to scale and if there's one thing IoT requires -- with millions of devices and terabytes of data -- it's scale. It's a multifaceted problem that includes device and user authentication, security credentials management, incident detection, alerting and auditing, and even threat prevention and mitigation. A promising strategy uses the cloud back end as a security hub to control connections and enforce policies for IoT device communication. Microsoft implements what it calls service-assisted communication through the Azure IoT hub; however, the AWS IoT security model takes a similar approach.
Those who are developing systems using smart, connected devices are wise to investigate and demo public IoT cloud services. Although AWS and Azure lead the way, others are sure to follow. Focus your evaluation on three areas: data streaming, collection and management; big data analysis; and security (being certain to look at the full spectrum of authentication, credential and monitoring features).
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