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What is an IoT platform?

by logindharanish

An Internet of Things (IoT) platform is a multi-layer system that facilitates simple provisioning, management, and automation of linked devices. In essence, it links your gear, notwithstanding its diversity, to the cloud using adaptable connectivity options, strong data processing capabilities, and business-grade security measures. An IoT platform offers a set of ready-to-use capabilities for developers that significantly speed up the creation of apps for connected devices while also taking care of scalability and cross-device compatibility.

As a result, depending on how you look at it, an IoT platform may be wearing several hats. When we discuss how it links remote devices to user applications (or other devices) and controls all interactions between the hardware and the application layers, we often refer to it as middleware. Because it provides common devices with access to cloud-based programmes and services, it is sometimes referred to as a cloud enablement platform or an Internet of Things enablement platform. The IoT application enablement platform finally moves the emphasis to being a crucial tool for IoT developers.

IoT platform as the middleware

IoT middleware, which served as a bridge between the hardware and application layers, gave rise to the first IoT platforms. Data gathering from the devices using various protocols and network topologies, remote device configuration and control, device administration, and over-the-air firmware updates were some of its main functions.

IoT middleware is anticipated to facilitate integration with practically any connected device and blend in with third-party apps used by the device in order to be used in heterogeneous IoT ecosystems in real-world settings. A single IoT platform can easily handle any type of connected device due to its independence from underlying hardware and overarching software.

In addition, modern IoT platforms add a number of useful capabilities to the hardware and application levels. They offer parts for cloud-based deployment, on-device data processing, and frontend and analytics. Some of them can manage the complete end-to-end installation of an IoT system.

IoT platform technology stack

The majority of IoT functionality required for creating your connected devices and smart things should be made available to you by a top-tier IoT platform in the four traditional layers of the IoT stack, which are things, connectivity, core IoT features, and applications & analytics.

Either directly or through the use of an IoT gateway, your devices connect to the platform, which is located in the cloud or in your on-premises data center. When your endpoints can’t communicate directly with the cloud or, for instance, you need some computational capacity on the edge, a gateway is useful. When your endpoints are on a LoRaWan network but you require them to communicate with the cloud using MQTT, you can also utilize an IoT gateway to convert protocols.

IoT platforms itself can be broken down into a number of layers. The infrastructure level, which is what makes it possible for the platform to function, is at the bottom. Components for managing containers, internal platform communications, orchestrating IoT solution clusters, and other tasks are available here.

The devices can communicate with one another through the communication layer, which is also where they link to the cloud to carry out various tasks.

The platform’s fundamental IoT characteristics are represented by the layer below. Data gathering, device administration, configuration management, messaging, and OTA software upgrades are a few of the crucial ones.

Advanced IoT platforms

Other significant factors that distinguish one IoT platform from another include scalability, customization, usability, code control, integration with 3rd party applications, deployment possibilities, and the level of data security.

Scalable (cloud native)

Elastic scalability across whatever number of endpoints the client may desire is ensured by modern IoT platforms. In public cloud installations, this feature is taken for granted, but in on-premises deployments, it should be specifically tested, including the platform’s load balancing capabilities for the server cluster’s optimum performance.

Customizable

a significant element in delivery speed. It is closely related to source code transparency, loose coupling of the platform’s components, and flexibility of integration APIs. Good APIs may be sufficient for low-requirement, small-scale IoT solutions, but in feature-rich, rapidly evolving IoT ecosystems, developers typically need more control over the entire system, including its source code, integration interfaces, deployment options, data schemas, connectivity, and security mechanisms.

Secure

Encryption, thorough identity management, and flexible deployment are all components of data security. The fundamentals of preventing potentially damaging breaches in an IoT solution include end-to-end data flow encryption, including data at rest, device authentication, user access rights management, and private cloud architecture for sensitive data.

IoT cloud enablement

The IoT cloud represents the apex of IoT platform development. These two phrases are occasionally used synonymously, in which case the system in question is often an IoT platform-as-a-service (PaaS). With this kind of solution, you can rent cloud infrastructure and an IoT platform from the same vendor of technology. Additionally, the provider may offer IoT solutions (IoT cloud services) that are already constructed and hosted on its infrastructure.

However, a private IoT cloud enablement is one significant capability of a modern IoT platform. A private IoT cloud can be hosted on any cloud architecture, including a private data centre, in contrast to public PaaS solutions that are housed at a provider’s cloud. This method of deployment gives you a lot more control over the creation of new features, their personalization, and their third-party integrations. Additionally, strict performance and data security criteria are promoted.

What your business can do with an IoT platform

  • Smart device manufacturers and startups can leverage an IoT platform to give their goods features like configurable alerts and notifications, pluggable cloud services, real-time monitoring, remote control, and integration with consumers’ smartphones and other devices.
  • Cost reduction for businesses in the industrial, agricultural, and transportation sectors is another significant use of the IoT platform. This is accomplished through remote monitoring of equipment and vehicles, proactive maintenance of machinery, sensor data collection for in-the-moment production analytics and safety, and end-to-end cargo delivery tracking.
  • IoT clouds on a large scale are frequently used by CSPs, smart city, and smart energy integrators as solutions. These businesses create IoT infrastructures using an IoT platform to offer a variety of new services to average consumers, governmental agencies, and large organizations. They include smart building installations, city-wide air quality monitoring, smart grid metering, connected car services, and several other things.
  • The key technology for enhancing the consumer experience in the retail, healthcare, hotel, and travel sectors is an IoT platform. It is employed to facilitate highly tailored services and guarantee a stress-free relationship between the client and the business. One example is the usage of remote patient monitoring and treatment options, which are highly practical and save a person a lot of time during routine hospital visits. IoT makes it simple to gather comprehensive patient data, while retailers and hotel businesses employ extensive data collection to develop individualized services and conduct efficient marketing.

Strategic trends for IoT platforms

Digital twins

provide a more potent method of controlling, managing, and monitoring assets. Digital twins offer a thorough digital representation of physical objects, enhancing condition monitoring and enabling quicker responses to internal and external events. IoT platforms must offer extremely flexible device management capabilities that can handle any level of sophistication depending on the use case in order to support the implementation of digital twins. Applications for digital twins range greatly, from usage statistics and event simulation to asset inventory and predictive maintenance. They are anticipated to play a crucial role in every effective IoT ecosystem in the near future.

Intelligent things

use AI and machine learning to maximize their interactions within an IoT ecosystem and gain additional insights from the data that has been collected. Basic IoT use cases have made progress, and additional advancement provided by AI will inspire even greater advancement. Manufacturing facilities with autonomous trucks and robotics maximize production and delivery speed, while criminal justice systems are drastically changed by the unequaled surveillance capacity supplied by AI-supported security cameras. In every sphere of the economy, there are several examples. IoT platforms must be created to provide flexible interaction with AI systems and provide scalable, resilient device orchestration in order to make these cutting-edge solutions possible.

Cloud to the edge

brings the capabilities of computation and data processing closer to the controlled entities in an IoT environment. In addition to enabling all the advantages of a flexible cloud-native model, where different services can be managed and distributed across connected assets in a scalable manner, the combination of cloud and edge computing architectures also ensures the efficient operation of disconnected entities and enables them to respond more quickly to new data. It is obvious that an IoT platform has evolved beyond just a simple development tool and should be able to handle DevOps as efficiently when other associated duties in relation to cluster management in private cloud and multicloud environments are taken into account.

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