What is IoT Platform and List of the Best Platforms on the Market

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What is an IoT Platform?

An IoT platform provides means to control all the various applications and IoT devices as well as manage the process of collecting, analyzing and storing all the data that is generated. You can use a cloud based service (IoT PasS) or an on-site system to manage these processes. You are also free to configure various hardware and software combinations to create a platform that meets your specific requirements.

Types of IoT Platforms

Hardware Development

Choosing the right kind of internet-connected hardware components is integral as these are quite literally the building block on which you will develop your platform. The controllers and processors you choose should be based on your ultimate requirements. Think about where you want to deploy your device and how you expect it to perform. Cost and availability must also be factored into your decision making, especially if you’re wanting a large number of prototypes.

Some questions you should ask yourself before you acquire your hardware include:

  1. What is the devices’ purpose? Will it receive data and how is that data to be controlled?

  2. Must the data be processed and stored?

  3. Does the device need to be connected to anything?

App Development

These platforms provide an integrated development environment (IDE) for the software developers to create applications that connect devices to other devices, and connect those devices to people. The software is also responsible for receiving, processing and storing all data that is received. Some platforms are low code type IDEs, requiring minimal coding knowledge with simple drag and drop templates for common functions.

Connectivity

It provides the link between your IoT devices and the network. This critical link makes it possible to serve the IoT data to the relevant destination, whether it be a backup storage and data center, or to another device to carry out the required processes. The data centers can be cloud based or physical on site centers. The connectivity protocol used in IoT ensures data is transferred effectively and securely between devices. Common connectivity protocols used in IoT include MQTT – a Message Queueing Service, DDS or Data Distribution Service, ZigBee, and other more commonly used protocols like WiFi, Bluetooth and cellular.

Analytics

Data that is not measurable is of little use to any organization. Analytics platforms make use of data analytics to provide meaningful data that is beneficial to the business and the IoT ecosystem. Analytics can be divided into four categories: Descriptive; Diagnostic; Predictive and Prescriptive.

  • Descriptive Analytics focuses on historical data. Events of the past are recorded in terms of what, where and why. This information can help to identify user behaviour patterns and it can help with detecting any deviations from expected behavior.

  • Diagnostic Analytics extends on descriptive analytics to try identify the root cause of a certain event. By using statistical analysis and data mining, it can identify hidden anomalies in the data that could explain why specific problems arise.

  • Predictive Analytics uses historical data to predict future events. Machine learning is a common tool used to make predictions which are a very useful business tool when it comes to forecasting and other future planning activities.

  • Prescriptive Analytics does not only predict future events but also recommends actions to deal with those events in order to achieve desired business goals.

End-to-End IoT Platform

This platform does not just focus on the data that is received but it includes an extra predictive model which can only be achieved through machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Without being able to predict events, you can not fully automate your IoT ecosystem. End-to-end systems: Modular and in-built.

Modular solutions offer greater flexibility, allowing you to add additional technologies as and when required. In-built systems have integrated AI and Machine learning out of the box. All monitoring, managing, control and prediction functions are included.

Available IoT Systems

There are a number of different IoT systems available. Some popular ones include:

Google Cloud IoT

Google’s Cloud IoT sits on top of its Cloud Platform. The Google IoT platform is compatible with hardware from companies like Intel and Microchip. All common operating systems are supported, including Debian Linux OS.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Real-time asset tracking
  • • Smart buildings and cities
  • • Supply-chain management
  • • Predictive maintenance

Features of Google Cloud IoT:

  • • Integrated AI and Machine Learning
  • • Device Location tracking
  • • Data visualization
  • • Real-time data analytics

Cisco IoT Cloud Connect

Cisco does not just offer its Cloud Connect platform but it also manufactures IoT hardware like routers, switches, access points etc. Cisco’s cloud connect includes a number of features that makes it an industry leader in IoT.

Cisco’s IoT platform includes many different features to maximize your company’s ability to manage and monitor all your devices effectively while ensuring your devices are secured against online attacks.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Fleet management
  • • POS solutions
  • • Smart meters
  • • Home automation and security
  • • Industrial networking

Features of Cisco IoT Cloud Connect:

  • • Advanced security
  • • Fog computing
  • • Centralized data management

Amazon AWS IoT Core

Amazon AWS IoT Core removes the need to manage servers by allowing you to connect all your IoT devices to the AWS cloud services.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Connected homes and vehicles
  • • Smart buildings
  • • Live asset tracking
  • • Home automation and security
  • • Industrial networking

Features of Amazon AWS IoT Core:

  • • Integration to other AWS services like CloudWatch, Alexa Voice service and Kinesis for IoT application development.
  • • Supports a large range of connection protocols
  • • Advanced security with end-to-end encryption
  • • Integrated machine learning
  • • Edge computing

Microsoft Azure IoT Hub

Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub is a cloud based solution that lets you connect your IoT application and devices securely and effectively. Azure IoT hub lets you scale as required, with the option to use edge per-device authentication or built-in device management. This is an open-source solution with many ready to use templates and services.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Azure is the preferred solution in many industries including healthcare, transportation and automotive industry as well as retail.

Features of Microsoft Azure IoT Hub:

  • • Full end to end data protection
  • • Offline mode
  • • Integrate with other Azure services
  • • Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions
  • • Fully managed databases
  • • Scalable analytics resources

Oracle IoT

Oracle’s IoT Platform as a Service (PaaS) lets you connect all your devices to the cloud and analyse the data from the devices to make better business decisions.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Predictive maintenance
  • • Logistics and technology driven manufacturing
  • • Ergonomics and work environment safety

Features of Oracle IoT:

  • • Ability to integrate with most other enterprise applications, as well as Oracle Cloud services.
  • • Immediate analysis tools to collect and analyse incoming data streams
  • • Sync data streams with Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud service automatically
  • • Unique device identifiers to ensure secure transactions between device and IoT applications
  • • You can create applications in most common programming languages and APIs

Particle

Particle offers an IoT platform in an integrated PaaS solution that includes application development kits, tracking devices and other end-to-end services to complete your IoT implementation.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Real time vehicle and other asset tracking
  • • Environment and compliance monitoring
  • • Predictive maintenance

Features of Particle:

  • • Uses REST APIs to integrate with other services
  • • Includes firewall protection
  • • Integrates with Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure platforms

ThingWorx

ThingWorx is a little different to the other IoT platforms mentioned in this article in that it is aimed towards industrial usage – hence Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). It is used mostly in manufacturing and engineering industries as it addresses the recurrent issues faced like remote monitoring, assets and human resource optimization.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Remote monitoring of assets
  • • Remote and predictive services and maintenance
  • • Equipment usage optimization

Features of ThingWorx:

  • • Ready to use yet scalable IIoT tools and applications
  • • Real-time analytics
  • • Allows full control of devices, process and systems over the network

Salesforce IoT Cloud

Salesforce is a specialist Customer Relations Management (CRM) IoT platform. By using and analyzing the data received, it aims to provide a better and more relevant experience to the customer, thereby creating stronger relationships.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Marketing and advertising
  • • Financial services
  • • Governmental administration tasks

Features of Salesforce:

  • • Full CRM integration including customer and products
  • • Easy to use with little need of programming knowledge thanks to easy point-and-click user interface.
  • • Generates a proactive approach to customer relations
  • • Fully compatible with other third party products and services

IBM Watson IoT

IBM’s Watson IoT is a flexible and scalable solution built upon the IBM Cloud. It allows for complete data lifecycle management with secure communication, it creates a gateway to collect data from a myriad of items.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Compliance and legal matters
  • • Logistics, shipping and general supply chain management
  • • Management of buildings and energy usage
  • • Shipping and logistics

Features of IBM Watson IoT:

  • • Uses MQTT to access, store and analyze data
  • • Uses Cloudant NoSQL DB
  • • Monitoring dashboards for easy asset management
  • • Process raw metrics with analytics service
  • • Includes long-term data archiving options with Cloud Object Storage

IRI Voracity

IRI Voracity makes use of IRI CoSort and Hadoop to process Big Data. It is a complete management platform giving you control over your entire business process.

Common Use Cases:

  • • Analyzing Big Data
  • • Warehousing
  • • Data governance

Features of IRI Voracity:

  • • Includes a data governance portal for enhanced search and classification
  • • Extract and transform data quicker using newer ETL and Analytic processes
  • • More effective DB management with the DB Ops environment

Statistics

Ranking of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms by completeness end-to-end capabilities

According to a study by Counterpoint Research that compared the top Internet of Things (IoT) platforms in 2020, Microsoft Azure came up tops worldwide. All the platforms were rated according to their completeness / end-to-end capabilities. Scores for each platform were awarded in the following categories:

Adoption & outlook, Ecosystem growth, Integration and scalability, Application Enablement, Cloud IoT components, Edge orchestration, Edge data processing and Edge IoT components.

Conclusion

The expansion of the IoT market is expected to reach $525 billion between 2022 and 2027. That is a compound annual growth rate in excess of 22%. With that in mind, companies have a wide range of options available to help them not just dabble, but to embrace and grow in the world of IoT.

Choosing a suitable vendor for your IoT platform may seem daunting, but by analyzing your specific needs and aligning them with what each platform has to offer, you can confidently invest in a solution that works for you. The ability to predict and automate processes will see you recovering the cost of your IoT investment in a short time.