M2M/IoT platforms are gaining focus as they can support more rapid development of specific M2M applications. These platforms focus on creating complete solutions to enable defined processes without the need to address integration in a wider context.
Applications built from scratch are typically expensive long lead-time undertakings with limited potential to evolve beyond the original processes. On the other hand with M2M platforms many features required for a roll-out are re-used and the platforms support IT structure requirements and scalability as core features, reducing the time to market for many applications.
The growing prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT) is forcing major change for M2M applications, as much through the growth in opportunities as through the sheer scale being discussed in the IoT world. The emergence of M2M/IoT Application Platforms provides an open application development environment that facilitates the roll-out of Internet of Things. An M2M/IoT Application Platform brings together application developers, M2M connected devices and a range of specialised M2M platforms and wider enterprise IT systems in an ecosystem to drive growth and speed to market.
Designed to enable rapid development and deployment of M2M applications, M2M/IoT platforms offer more accessible device data and software interfaces for easy integration and control of application parameters. The M2M/IoT platforms differ from traditional M2M platforms in the following ways:
. over the air functionality, with integration to multiple carriers and multiple connectivity support requiring some combination of satellite, cellular and short-range connected devices;
. device configuration and management, establishing a comprehensive library of cross-industry drivers and not relying only on VPNs to local gateways to control local devices;
. application development and management with support for Big Data analysis, complex processing of occurrences and offering both software and firmware updates for M2M connected device or on a gateway;
. operations and management of user authorisation, the use of reliable identity management with considerations of the privacy of user data for various analytical processes;
. scalability with the ability to handle huge volumes of users and information processes in near real-time.
Building an in-house M2M platform as opposed to using an existing M2M/IoT platform requires a major investment in time and resources of an organization. Careful consideration is required in planning the IT infrastructure and big data storage, as well as working with the embedded application and cloud services to manage the complexities of enterprise application integration with M2M devices. Challenges also include the software interfaces for managing multiple network subscriptions of the various mobile network operators, ongoing maintenance, and product lifecycle management.
Larger companies using M2M more extensively may still decide to bring higher-level functionality in-house, with the justification of more control over a solution and at relatively little cost in terms of lost scale. Smaller scale M2M solutions (and by this we mean less than say 10-50000 devices connected) are likely to benefit most from use of outsourced platform solutions. By using an existing platform and leveraging the proven expertise, methodology and best practices of an M2M solution provider, smaller scale users can instead focus on their core business and lower the project risk.
Now in it’s fifth consecutive year running, the “The Battle of the M2M Platforms” showcases cutting edge platform solutions from leading companies offering management and delivery of M2M solutions. Winners are selected from different platform categories. The emergence of the M2M/IoT Application Platform introduces us to emerging new M2M platform services such as Thingworx, Axeda, ILS and MQTT. Examples of vendor specific services are Sierra Wireless AirVantage Management Services and Telit M2M Air. M2M/IoT Application Platforms are considered instrumental in the delivery the envisioned future of IoT.