The State of Standardizing the Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT ecosystem holds incredible potential for the future of connectivity. We are quickly approaching a world where most everyday devices will be able to communicate with a vast ecosystem of other hardware that is connected and integrated with the Internet. The popularity of smart lights, appliances, cameras, and other hardware are the key signs that this will be a segment of technology that will grow rapidly over the next few years.

However, getting to that future is a tricky endeavor. There isn’t yet a clear, industry-wide set of uniform standards for the Internet of Things. Along with being a major headache for those who are trying to foster such connection and build APIs, there’s a potential negative economic impact should such confusion and difficulty inhibit consumers and investors from pushing forward with worthwhile initiatives.

A recent article from Wired titled, “Without API Management the Internet of Things is Just a Big Thing” offers some more details. A key takeaway is that API management is essential. While this isn’t unique to IoT or a completely original idea, the implications are much higher in this space. The Wired report listed four main areas where this can result in problems:

●      Versioning and support for ancient things
●      Developer and device registration and security
●      Visibility and analytics
●      Performance and scalability

New “things” are coming online all the time, as more cars and even refrigerators are handling Internet-aware tasks. Working through complexity is at the heart of device management. Companies that excel in this arena will be in an ideal position, as research house Markets Research Reports, the entire connected enterprise industry could quadruple to $400 billion by 2021. This figure also represents a compound growth rate of more than 31 percent.

Additionally, the GSM Association's Connected Living predicts there will be 24 billion connected devices by 2020. Cars, kitchen appliances, televisions, cameras, monitoring sensors, and other hardware are amongst the ever-growing number of devices that are expected to gain Internet connectivity and to work with competing services.

While this incredible innovation is going to create business opportunities for a diverse grouping of industries, there is a risk. IoT infrastructure that is bogged down by incompatible standards and security holes can create a situation that leads to poor performance, vulnerabilities, and rising costs that could make companies and consumers think twice about investing in this space.

There is some positive movement in the right direction from a variety of groups. One example is the The OpenFog Consortium, which is backed by 50 different organizations. The organization released a reference architecture with baseline standards for product design, security, and other essential elements in this puzzle. Additionally, The Thread Group and Open Connectivity Foundation recently pledged deeper cooperation so that IoT software would interoperate with greater ease.

The march towards such standardization is going to be a slow one, but the focus must remain on an Open Device Management solution. Flexible device management is what’s necessary to cope with the brutal complexity that is currently the state of IoT architecture. However, there are many active groups trying to build out more consistent standards, such as the IETF and IRTF. Yet there is sufficient documentation available to charge ahead, ensuring that good security and architecture practices are followed.

The situation is not unlike the early days of the Internet when various protocols were in use, making web browsing and navigation tricky. Companies that understood how to work through a situation and adapt themselves to evolving standards were the ones who found the greatest success.

For Axiros, this is an evolutionary leap that we’re prepared to handle. We’ve been working with device and service management in the telecommunications arena over the past 15 years. Our approach gives us a unique perspective on APIs and working with disparate systems. We are protocol agnostic and device independent to create solutions that give our customers the ability to create any API needed. This way devices will be interoperable and fully managed, configured, and updated with Axiros’ suite of IoT solutions. We’re ready for the challenge of the rapid changes that this industry will bring about.

Kurt Peterhans - Axiros GmbH
CEO & Managing Director Operations