It’s common knowledge now that the Internet of Things is projected to be a multi-trillion dollar market with billions of devices expected to be sold in a few years. It’s happening already. What’s driving IoT is a combination of low-cost hardware and lower power communications, thus enabling virtually everything to become connected cheaply. Even Facebook talked about it in their recent F8 conference (photo by Maurizio Pesce).
And why wouldn’t they? A vast array of devices that make our lives easier and smarter are flooding the market ranging from fuel-efficient thermostats, security systems, drones, and robots, among others. The industrial market for connected control and monitoring has existed and will expand in automated factories, logistics automation, and building automation. However, efficiencies are being found with new areas. For instance, connected tools for the construction site enable construction companies to better manage construction processes. We are also seeing increased intelligence from what can be referred to as the network effect – the excess value created by the combination of devices all being on a network.
What’s remarkable is that all IoT protocols share one common characteristic, i.e. they are all designed around publish/subscribe. The benefit of publish/subscribe event driven computing is simplicity and efficiency.
Devices or endpoints can be dynamic, and added or lost with little impact to the system. New devices can be discovered and rules applied to add them to the network and establish their functionality. All IoT standards support some form of discovery mechanism so that new devices can be added as near seamlessly as possible. Over the air a message can be delivered once to many listeners simultaneously without any extra effort by the publisher.
Addressing The Challenges
All of this efficiency and flexibility sounds too good to be true? You guessed right. The greatest challenge with this is security and privacy. While most protocols support encryption of messages, there are serious issues with security and privacy with today’s protocols. There are many IoT protocols and the diversity indicates a lot of devices will not be secure and it is likely that different protocols will have different vulnerabilities. Authentication of devices is not generally performed, so various attacks based on impersonation are possible.
Most devices and protocols don’t automate software updating and complicated action is needed sometimes to update software on devices. This can lead to vulnerabilities persisting for long periods. However, eventually, these issues will be worked out and devices will automatically download authenticated updates. The packets will be encrypted to prevent eavesdropping and it will be harder to hack IoT device security, albeit this could take years. Enterprise versions of devices will undoubtedly flourish, thereby supporting better security as this will be a requirement for enterprise adoption.
Publish/subscribe generates a lot of excitement due to the agility it gives people to leverage information easily, thus enabling faster innovation and more network effect. Point-to-point technologies lead to brittle architectures that are burdensome to add or change functionality.
WSO2 has staked out a significant amount of mindshare and software to support IoT technologies. WSO2 helps companies with its lean, open-source componentized event driven messaging and mediation technology that can go into devices and sensors for communication between devices and services on hubs, in the cloud or elsewhere; big data components for streaming, storing and analyzing data from devices; process automation and device management for IoT and application management software for IoT applications and devices. WSO2 can help large and small firms deploying or building IoT devices to bring products to market sooner and make their devices or applications smarter, easier, and cheaper to manage.
To learn more about event-driven architecture refer to our white paper – Event-Driven Architecture: The Path to Increased Agility and High Expandability
Want to know more about using analytics to architect solutions? Read IoT Analytics: Using Big Data to Architect IoT Solutions