Most of you are probably asking yourself why I’ve got a picture of a cow in this article. Well, you’ll have to wait and see.
A few weeks ago at the IBM Impact conference the IBM Internet of Things (IoT) Cloud was announced. You can access the QuickStart alpha here. Since then I’ve received lots of queries from customers and IBMers alike who want to know the answer to this question: “This replaces IBM MessageSight, right?”
The answer is of course “No, it doesn’t.”
But that question does lead to another harder one to answer: “When do you use the IBM Internet of Things Cloud and when do you use the IBM MessageSight appliance?”
The default answer of “It depends” springs to mind, which doesn’t help very much, now does it?
Okay, let me start at the beginning, and then perhaps we’ll have an answer. The IBM IoT Cloud is available to try at no charge, so feel free to give it a go. It's an alpha at present but you can hook up a device and see that data interactively displayed. Neat and useful—I think you’ll agree.
Over time more functionality will be delivered in the cloud service, including a historian. This historian will allow you to store the device’s data for retrieval and inquiry at a later date rather than just displaying the data in real time. This all sounds very similar to the IBM MessageSight appliance, and you may have seen from my previous blog posts that you can connect up to a million devices to a MessageSight appliance to enable the device data to the enterprise. So on the surface it does appear that they are the similar tools for the same issue. The actual difference might be cultural or at least a buy-verses-build approach to a solution.
Currently the IBM MessageSight appliance has to be purchased from IBM. Once it is delivered the appliance has to be housed in a location, connected to devices and integrated into existing enterprise infrastructure like data stores or analytics engines.
I’ll use a few fictional scenarios to explain.
Let’s say a car rental company purchased an appliance to enable its minute-by-minute car sharing app to be newly deployed onto customers’ smartphones. They’d have to connect the appliance to the in-house data repositories to process the car booking requests received by the appliance from the smartphones and even the cars themselves. It is highly likely that this company would have existing data centers, IT infrastructure and experienced IT staff who know how to perform these vital tasks. So investing in an appliance to enable the data connectivity that can scale to millions of devices in moments makes sense.
Or, let’s say a dairy farmer had the sensors on his cows connected during milking. It would be unlikely that he’d have access to existing infrastructure or skilled IT experience. This is when the simplicity of a cloud solution would be of benefit—hence the IBM Internet of Things Cloud, which is a pay-as-you-go service. This rental approach would give the farmer the service he needs to connect to his herd’s monitoring sensors but without the initial capital expenditure of IT overheads. As it is a cloud service, the farmer can pay for what he uses. So if his herd increases or decreases, the costs would rise and fall in line with this fluctuation. Now you know why there is a picture of a cow at the top of this article.
This is just one reason why a company might choose to have the appliance housed in its data center over opting for the cloud service.
The IBM Internet of Things Cloud QuickStart is currently in alpha stage, but if you’d like to hear about newly deployed features and functions just register to receive updates. Then, when the historian is added, Mr. Farmer will be able to check Daisy’s current sensor readings with her previous milking parlor records.