When Luke Skywalker asks Obi-Wan Kenobi, “What is The Force,” the answer was, “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”
According to Intel, there are 15 billion devices on the Internet today. In 2020 the number will grow to 200 billion. In order to meet the demand for connectivity, cities are spending $41 trillion dollars to create the infrastructure to accommodate it.
What I want to talk about in this short article is how to architect an IoT solution, and the challenges in this area.
In a nutshell, connecting “things” to a “platform,” where business apps can consume information, is achieved two ways:
- Simple “direct” connection (2-Tiered approach)
- Using a “gateway” (3-Tiered approach)
The 3-Tier Approach: Introducing IoT Gateways
You may now be wondering, “what exactly are the reasons behind introducing a gateway into your IoT architecture?”
The answer is in the challenges introduced by the simple connection:
- Security threat; the more “they” that are out there, the more “doors” that can be opened
- Identity management; huge amount of devices and configuration changes
- Configurations/updates can become a complex problem
What Is/Isn’t an IoT Gateway?
An IoT Gateway:
- Is a function, not necessarily a physical device
- Is not just a dumb proxy that forwards data from sensors to backend services (because that would be highly ineffective in terms of performance and network utilization).
- Performs pre-processing of information in the field—including message filtering and aggregation—before being sent to the data center.
Where is All This Leading?
As enterprises transform into digital businesses, they need to find ways to:
- Improve efficiencies
- Generate new forms of revenue
- Deliver new and exciting customer experiences
These will be the tipping points for enterprise IoT to really take off.
For organizations that want to deploy IoT apps across multiple gateway vendors—and those that wish to buy solutions that are not locked into a single silo—IoT can bring problems and frustration.
VMware has taken the first steps in the IoT journey, making the IoT developer’s life easier, and introducing Liota (Little IoT Agent). Liota is a vendor-neutral open source software development kit (SDK) for building secure IoT gateway data and controlling orchestration that resides primarily on IoT gateways.
Liota is available to developers for free now at https://github.com/vmware/liota, and it works with any gateway or operating system that supports Python.
If you are attending VMworld, make a point to visit the Internet of Things Experience zone. Within this pavilion, we will have several pods showing live demos with augmented reality experiences that bring life to workflows across a variety of industries.
May the force be with you.
Andrea Siviero is an ten-year veteran of VMware and a senior solutions architect member of Professional Services Engineering (PSE) for the Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC), a part of the Global Technical Solutions (GTS) team. Prior to PSE, Andrea spent three years as pre-sales system engineer and three years as a post-sales consultant architect for cloud computing and desktop virtualization solutions focusing on very large and complex deployments, especially for service providers in the finance and telco sectors.