A forecast by Gartner published in November 2015 predicts that 6.4 billion Internet connected things or devices will be in use in 2016. This number will be a staggering 20.8 billion in 2020. These things or devices will be used across a variety of industries covering both consumer, and business category. It is undeniable that the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming mainstream as devices are becoming intelligent, instrumented and interconnected. Millions of Internet connected devices are adding a tremendous amount of data to global data traffic. Businesses can unlock opportunities and gain insights from this data. It becomes very clear that managing millions of devices and analysing the data generated from these devices is not an easy task. It demands a highly scalable, fault tolerant and robust platform to manage these IoT devices. IBM Internet of Things Foundation is such a platform.
Here are five things to know about IBM Internet of Things Foundation (IoTF) that will get you started with this service:
- Internet of Things Foundation (IoTF) is a cloud-based service for managing IoT devices, and composing and extending applications that leverage data and analytics from connected devices, sensors, and gateways. IoTF is available as a catalog item or service from IBM Bluemix Platform or through IBM Internet of Things portal.
It provides a powerful web dashboard to add and manage devices, control access to IoT service, monitor usage and other key parameters at a glance and allows for device management actions like rebooting or updating firmware, receive device diagnostics and metadata, or perform bulk device addition and removal. IoTF is based on industry-standard MQTT protocol (OASIS ratified) to connect devices and applications. IoTF provides access to real-time data from sensors. and devices as well as options to store data to different types of Bluemix hosted database. This way, users can have access to real-time and historical data.
- You can use any MQTT client for connecting to IoTF. For example, Mosquitto open source MQTT client can be used to connect with IoTF. An example of how this can be achieved is available from IoTF documentation.
- Key concepts and terminologies of IoTF.
- Organization: Organization groups a number of devices and applications for security reasons. Each organization has a 6-character unique ID. Devices and applications registered within an organization get unique device and API keys which makes sure data from devices and applications are only sourced from registered entities. No device and application will be allowed to connect to IoTF without the appropriate keys.
- Devices: Anything that has a connection to the Internet and has data to publish to the cloud is defined as a device. Devices are not allowed to communicate with each other directly. Devices can accept commands from applications. They identify themselves to IoTF by unique authentication keys.
- Applications: Anything that has a connection to the Internet and can interact with data from devices and/or control the behavior of those devices in some manner. An application identifies itself to IoTF by a unique API key and application ID.
- Gateway devices: these are special type of devices that possess combined capabilities of a device and an application. Devices that can not connect directly to IoTF can use gateway devices as access points to connect to the service. These devices should be registered in IoTF first before they make any connection. Gateway devices can register new devices and can send and receive data on behalf of devices connected to them.
- Events: Event is a mechanism by which a device publishes data to IoTF.
- Commands: Command is a mechanism by which an application communicates with a device.
- Historical Event Storage: this feature allows users to store data from devices. Historical event storage activity and duration can be controlled from settings panel of IoTF dashboard.
- Managed devices are those that contain a management agent. A management agent allows the device to interact with the IoTF Device Management service via the Device Management protocol. Managed devices are capable of performing device management operations including location updates, firmware download and updates, and reboot and factory reset.
- Unmanaged devices do not contain a management agent. They are capable of connecting to IoTF and send and receive data. They can perform device management operations.
We will continue the discussion in a in a future post also on the IBM IoT, but be sure to check out the new IBM Redbooks publication Hybrid Cloud Event Integration: Integrate Your Enterprise and Cloud with Bluemix Integration Services that covers a cool scenario on IBM Internet of Things Foundation and Bluemix integration. ITSO Redbooks team also created a workshop Implementing Hybrid Cloud with Bluemix Integration Services that is based on this book.
Shamim Hossain is an IBM Certified Cloud Solution Advisor and Cloud Solution Architect. He leads a cloud consultancy laboratory in IBM Australia to develop born-on-the-cloud applications using agile methodologies and design thinking. He is a published author and regular blogger covering different areas of cloud computing.