What are These "Things”?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the set of devices and systems that interconnect real world sensors and actuators to the internet. This includes many different types of systems, including:

  • Mobile devices
  • Smart meters & objects
  • Wearable devices including clothing, health care implants, smartwatches, fitness devices, etc.
  • Internet connected automobiles
  • Home Automation Systems including thermostats, lighting, home security
  • Other measuring sensors for weather, traffic, ocean tides, road signals and more

These systems connect to the internet or gateway in a variety of manners including long range WiFi/Ethernet using IP protocols (tcp/udp, including cellular), short range Bluetooth low energy, short range Near Field Communications, or other types of medium range radio networks. Point to point radio links and serial lines are also used. There are many sensors that connect directly to the internet and there are others that may need specialized IoT networking hardware. Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT), for instance, is a subscribe and publish messaging protocol designed for lightweight machine to machine (M2M) communications. Originally developed by IBM, is now an open standard but its primary purpose is to allow a device to send a very short message one hop to a MQ broker and to receive commands from that broker. It needs a gateway or receiver (broker) to communicate. Basically, every message is published to a location, called a topic, clients (the sensors) subscribe to various topics and when a message is published to the topic, the client/sensor gets it.

The systems themselves typically fall into a few classes of categories. The smallest devices have 8-bit embedded system on chip (SOC) controllers but no operating system; then there are ones that have a limited 32-bit architecture, like a home router, with or without a base OS and; the most capable systems have either full 32-bit or 64-bit operating platform such as a mobile phone. You might even use your mobile phone to send the data, via the internet, from the IoT device to the destined application.

Not only are we interacting with these devices, they are interacting with other machines to send specific Information, which is called Machine-to-machine technology. The M2M fabric works in conjunction with the various systems that support wearables, home networks and the widely deployed sensors. Some areas that you can focus on as IoT progresses include:

  • Focus on scale of core capabilities like DNS and availability
  • Evaluate readiness to federate access across cloud apps
  • Examine state of identity and access to manage millions of users
  • Strategize on automation for provisioning and auto-scale

According to Gartner, the Internet of Things is not a single technology but a concept with embedded sensors driving the trend, real time support and learning having a social impact and allows businesses to make situational decisions based on the sensor’s information. With that, no single architecture can address all the potential IoT device areas and requirements of each but a scalable architecture that can add or subtract resources to support a wide variety of scenarios prepares organizations for the impact IoT will have. You can check out F5's The Internet of Things-Ready Infrastructure White Paper to learn more about how an IoT–ready environment can enable service providers and enterprises to begin taking advantage of this societal shift without a wholesale rip-and-replace of existing technology.



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Published Apr 09, 2015
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