On my last post I described the chronology of the Internet Of Things (IoT) since the early 1990s and until these days, and the drive for its evolution. On that post we’ve established the motivation and the $$ to invest in the IoT. So what is the next step?
Since the Internet of Things is all about enabling devices of various kinds to talk to each other, we need to have a common language for these devices to talk. This becomes more acute when when involving devices of different vendors and providers.
Do you remember the Internet in its early days? back then there were islands of isolated networks and we were missing a common language to enable them to talk between them. In the internet case the solution was the invent of Internet Protocol (IP), which standardized the communication “language” and addressing system (together with higher-level standards which followed such as TCP, UDP and HTTP). These open standards paved the way for the mass adoption of the internet and its worldwide spread. In fact, IP got caught up with its own success, with IPv4 (4th version of the protocol) nearing exhaustion of its address space, and mandating the inevitable switch to IPv6, through a sometimes-painful migration process (as many old systems were hard-wired to the IPv4 format).
What is the “Internet Protocol” of the Internet Of Things?
This question drove the formation of a new standardization body which was announced yesterday and which is backed by a consortium of industry leaders such as Samsung, Intel and Dell. The new consortium, called Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), is said to focus on :
… delivering a specification, an open source implementation, and a certification program for wirelessly connecting devices.
This initiative joins other initiatives in the area, most notably AllSeen Alliance which was founded in December and already has 51 members including LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Cisco another and others, and the newest member – Microsoft – which joined just earlier this month. During its Worldwide Developers Conference last month Apple also announced a similar initiative called HomeKit based on iOS devices. These initiatives are all aimed at standardizing the language in which devices will talk in the Internet of Things.
Standardization is an important step in maturing of any technology. Furthermore, open source standards, APIs, and reference implementations, have become a predominant part of the IT industry, and emerging technologies are now expected to provide them. An excellent example of that is Cloud Computing, which grew the open standards of OpenStack and CloudStack that are backed by impressive communities incorporating industry leader corporation, service integrators and individual contributors worldwide alike. Reviewing the recently-released statement of work by the OIC shows it is well aware of this expectation and is set to provide that.
Open standards and open source implementation is the right step for IoT. We should only hope that the communities grow and establish good collaboration between the members and between the different alliances (and avoid needless politics) so that they could put forth the right standard to meet the needs, and more importantly – adapt them to the changing needs in an agile manner for the benefit of all.
* Update: in a subsequent post I cover a new IoT standardization initiative by Google. read more here.
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