Standards make the world go round, establishing alignment and trust in otherwise unmoderated and unmanaged technologies. These initiatives, however, take time and can be noticeably absent in newer innovations. For example, cloud computing has been on the market for some time; yet only recently have emerging best-practices and standards begun to take shape. More concerted efforts have been underway for M2M and IoT innovation, due to the widely known security and safety implications of M2M/IoT-based ecosystems. With the number of connected IoT devices estimated to hit 50 billion by 2020, there has never been a more critical time for emerging standards. For businesses these emerging standards can help with M2M deployments. The following are a few key issues driving the creation of standards for M2M/IoT, as well as some leading initiatives that are currently paving the way for such solutions and devices.
All the connected devices that are being developed will need a common way to work together. Interoperability becomes a crucial factor for the success of the technology. Standards play a key role in ensuring devices are designed with interoperability in mind. Standards allow for devices to be designed independently and still work together. Without standards in place devices may not be interoperable at all or interoperable with different specs. This would require integration, which could increase the time and cost associated with the development of the product.
Increasingly, technology solutions must work in tandem with others– even competing products– to remain future-proof. Traditional monolithic solutions are giving way to integrated, best-in-breed solutions consisting of a myriad of complementary tools. Subsequently, leading M2M and IoT standards have adopted service-oriented architectures that are platform, vendor, and even technology-agnostic.
Device Updates and Security
The creation of common M2M/IoT standards is crucial for maintaining a device’s operational integrity in the field. Shared protocols will enable the remote management and updating of disparate devices, streamlining crucial tasks such as applying critical security updates and patches.
Leading M2M/IoT Standards and Protocols
OMA DM (Open Mobile Alliance Device Management) is a device management protocol designed to manage mobile devices such as phones and tablets. OMA DM is ideal for small foot-print devices that have a constraint on bandwidth of communication. The specification also includes tight security as mobile devices are often vulnerable to software attacks.
The LightweightM2M, also created by OMA, is primarily a specification for client-server M2M interactions. So for example, the protocol is designed specifically for accessing devices with low computing capabilities such as electricity meters.
MQTT (MQ Telemetry Transport) is a M2M/IoT connectivity protocol. It was designed as an extremely lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport. It is ideal for connections with remote locations where a small code footprint is required and/or network bandwidth is at a premium. It is also useful for mobile applications due to its small size, lower power usage, minimized data packets and efficient distribution of information.
TR-069 (Technical Report 069) is a technical specification published by the Broadband Forum and entitled CPE WAN Management Protocol (CWMP). It defines an application layer protocol for remote management of end-user devices. The CPE WAN Management Protocol defines a mechanism that encompasses secure auto-configuration of a CPE, and also incorporates other CPE management functions into a common framework.
HyperCat is an open, lightweight JSON based hypermedia catalogue format designed for exposing information about IoT assets over the web. It allows a server to provide a set of resources to a client, each with a set of semantic annotations. Implementers are free to choose or invent any set of annotations to suit their needs. Where implementers choose similar or overlapping semantics, the possibilities for interoperability are increased.
The OneM2M standard aims to provide technical specifications that address the needs for a common M2M service layer for embedding into vendor hardware and software. This service layer or fabric would connect the M2M devices in field deployments with M2M application servers across the globe. OneM2M utilizes LWM2M, OMA DM and TR-069. Many global organizations such as the CCSA (China Communications Standards Association), ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association, US) are behind OneM2M.
Google Thread is a network protocol developed by search-behemoth Google. It focuses on low-power and security in IoT devices that use embedded data transmission via Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth and/or ZigBee. Google’s Nest division is the main proponent of this initiative, and it has partnered with such notables as Samsung Electronics, ARM Holdings, Freescale Semiconductor and Silicon Labs, among others.
AllJoyn’s is Qualcomm’s initiative to create a protocol with related tooling intended primarily for connecting and maintaining IoT devices that connect over a Wi-Fi connection. By using this framework, IoT device and solution manufacturers can develop custom apps — complete with services for notification and control — for the onboarding and ongoing maintenance of IoT solutions to the Wi-Fi network. Manufacturers can use the AllJoyn framework to create their own custom apps for onboarding devices onto a Wi-Fi network, complete with control and notification services. The AllJoyn protocol’s codebase has since been released to the Linux Foundation with the forming of the AllSeen Alliance — a group dedicated to using and promoting the standard. AllSeen consists of many technology heavyweights, including Cisco, Microsoft, LG and HTC, among others.
In short, many competing standards jostle for the upper hand in the IoT/M2M space. Basic open integration through inherent mechanisms such as REST APIs allows for devices to communicate and work with each other effectively. However, dominant players in technology will soon bring even more uniformity to the emerging space.