5 Functional Requirements of an IoT Platform

Probably the most familiar form of connectivity for the internet, and for IoT, is Ethernet. In addition to Ethernet, IoT devices can connect using a wide variety of other technologies. The connectivity objective is that an IoT platform support as many modes of connectionwired and wirelessas possible.Wireless optionsinclude ANT+, Bluetooth, EDGE, GPRS, IrDA, LTE, NFC, RFID, Weightless, WLAN, ZigBee, and Z-Wave.

However, even if a platform meets those functionality requirements, there are still important non-functional requirements for an IoT platform. We will begin with security.

Devices that we discussed above dont just perform tasks. In most cases, they will also report on the tasks they perform. Through their connection to an IoT platform and to each other, they will transmit detailed data about their actions. Typically, there will be no need for human intervention in the process. The devices will simply send data, potentially in real-time, for storage and analysis. To give you an idea of just how much data is involved,one estimateforesees the IoT generating around 400 ZB (zettabytes) by 2018. Functionally, therefore, an IoT platform must be able to support storing massive amounts of data.

Highly robust public cloud platforms have conditioned us to expect 4 or 5 nines when we think about internet availability. Those same expectations should extend to IoT platforms. In fact, there is good reason to anticipate even higher levels of availability from IoT platforms. That is because IoT platforms can interact with and control devices that have real-world impact. For example, an IoT platform might control the thermostat in your home or the open/close switch for a relief valve in an industrial plant. IoT platforms must therefore offer exceptionally high availability.

Fortunately, the functional requirements of an IoT platform remain the same regardless of which technology you use for each function. We will look at these functional requirements, along with four important non-functional requirements. This will provide a solid framework for choosing an IoT platform that fits your business needs.

The vast volumes of data discussed above have the potential to provide unprecedented insights into consumer behavior and preferences. Unlocking those insights, however, requires powerful analytics tools. A key IoT platform functionality, therefore, is that it is capable of either incorporating or offering compatibility with analytics solutionsthat will translate significant amounts data into useful and actionable insights.

If you are interested in an IoT platform tailored to your functional requirements,contact an expertat the IBM Journal today.

The number of devices connected to IoT will soon reach anywhere from28 billion to 50billion, depending on who you ask. IoT sensors gather information about conditions in their vicinity, such as temperature or moisture level. IoT actuators perform specific tasks, such as turning things on or off, and recording information about its triggers and subsequent reactions. In addition, IoT wearables of various kinds, like a health-tracking bracelet, can record your health statistics and other data such as your location. In essence, the functional requirement for an IoT platform is that it has the ability to manage a heterogeneous set of devices.

These requirements are intended to help you set the stage for evaluating IoT platforms. Depending on your specific plans, any particular function may be more important than the others. An IoT platform should nevertheless meet all these functional and non-functional requirements in order to serve you well.

In light of the billions of devices and zettabytes of data discussed earlier, scalability is clearly a requirement in an IoT platform. The best practice for both businesses and consumers is tostart smallwith IoT. However, many IoT solutions achieve their true potential only at scale. The ideal IoT platform is fully able to support a small, initial implementation, but also should be able to scale out as your business needs grow.

Here is why that matters. To use IoT in your business operations, you must choose an IoT platform. In the current market, though, different platforms use different technologies. Moreover, the platforms and technologies arenot all mutually compatible. That complicates decision-making.

Much of the infrastructure that underlies the internet is now firmly established. For example, we havenear-universal standards for the web, email, file transfer, and other internet technologies. The Internet of Things, however, has not yet reached that level of stability.

Even with the recent attention given to security forIoT devices, it can be easy to overlook the need for end-to-end security for an IoT platform. Every part of a platform should be analyzed for security prospects. From internet connections to the applications and devices to the transmitted and stored data, there is a potential for an attack vector. Without question, the single most important non-functional requirement of an IoT platform is that it offers robust security.

IoT software applications are emerging for businesses in virtually every industry as well as for home users. These applications provide much ofthe automation capabilitiesthat make IoT solutions so valuable. These software and middlewareapplicationshelp businesses drive down costs, increase efficiency, and improve regulatory compliance. To achieve these goals, an IoT platform should be compatible with applications specific to your industry.

5 Functional Requirements of an IoT Platform

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