What Is An IoT Platform?
The phrase “IoT Platform” is a fairly obtuse industry term no matter how much experience you have working in technology industries. This article seeks to demystify and define the concept of an IoT Platform in a way that almost anyone working with smart devices in a business setting can easily understand and use.
To start, what is an Internet of Things (IoT) Platform?
An IoT Platform is a set of cloud-based services and applications used to monitor, manage and interact with smart, connected devices.
From here, there’s an important distinction to be made, as IoT Platforms fall into two categories:
- IoT Infrastructure; and,
- IoT Solutions
What is IoT Infrastructure?
IoT Infrastructure represents the set of discrete low-level services that are required to produce an IoT Solution, including authorization services, certificate services, data storage services, queue services, compute services, and analytics services as well as synchronous and asynchronous communication services.
What is an IoT Solution?
IoT Solutions are the end-state products produced and sold by vendors to offer the high-level IoT platform capabilities required to get production smart connected devices in the field and/or use those devices to deliver business services to customers.
These services may include device firmware and firmware management, standardized payloads and object definitions, device provisioning and commissioning capabilities, user account invitation management, notification services, and integration with mobile notification systems.
IoT Solutions may also include device control, device state change notifications, and other services for commercial/retail devices. Last, IoT Solutions may include integration to 3rd party device platforms, routine/scene management, device discovery capabilities, user preferences models, and multi-user management.
IoT Infrastructure offerings like Amazon IoT may look similar to Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) IoT Solutions, but the effort for a software solution provider to get to production is more significant than with IoT Infrastructure offerings.
Typically, IoT Solutions are built based on architecture patterns and leverage the services made available by IoT Infrastructure providers. The result for the customer creating a software solution is the difference between building and maintaining your own complete IoT backend solution (in the case of leveraging IoT infrastructure) versus bringing a device and using it.
In time and effort, the project timeline is weeks with an IoT Solution, whereas going to market leveraging an IoT infrastructure product can take several months.
Which IoT platform is right for your business?
If you’re selling services or building your own IoT Solution to sell to others, then it’s a good idea to explore IoT Infrastructure. If you’re selling devices, then you’ll likely get to the market faster and cheaper with an IoT Solution.
Yonomi is an IoT Solutions provider. IoT solutions are the focus of the remainder of this post. If you are interested in developing an IoT application and want to understand more about our platforms, please schedule a meeting with our engineering sales team by clicking the link below. We'd love to understand your business needs.
IoT platform architecture
There are typically four interconnected components that make up an IoT Platform, including the Client UI or software solution, the Cloud, the gateway, and one or a number of connected smart devices. A high-level solution architecture illustrates these interconnected solutions:
These four areas are fundamental to IoT, no matter the solution design and platform choice. Let’s focus on each and discuss where IoT Platform providers fit.
This is the end device that provides sensing services, control services, or both. A thermostat both senses temperature, reports that data and provides the ability to change setpoint to control HVAC or other climate systems. In some cases, the end device can also be a gateway.
A gateway is a device or software component that bridges communication between sensing, intelligent or controllable things (smart devices) and the cloud-based systems that support them. As mentioned, the device can sometimes be both an end device and a gateway of its own services, such as the case with the most popular smart speakers and thermostats. In mesh-based communication networks like ZigBee, all devices relay communication to a required gateway.Hardware vendors in particular use the term "IoT Platform" to refer to the chipset they offer to support creating a connected gateway or connected end device. This can be confusing, but from the perspective of a hardware vendor, it’s easy to see that without the chip and the software that enables it, there would be no ‘platform’ on which to build the device telemetry and control capabilities. When evaluating any platform, it’s important to ask how the platform enables all four areas of a connected device solution. If they don't support one of the four, the next important question is understanding whom they partner with to deliver the full services.
This is typically referred to as the IoT Platform and the subject of this post.
The user’s interface with their device or device services occurs through the Client UI—often a mobile app or responsive application.
What are the different types of IoT platforms?
From 30,000 feet, the IoT platform market can be segmented into three different offerings—Enterprise, Industrial, and Consumer.
Although some services overlap, each of these platform segments has unique features that meet the specific needs of their target audience. In each case, it makes sense to narrow your selection process to IoT platforms purpose-built for your end customer. See our post on IoT Platform Examples and Use Cases to dive deeper into the different IoT Platforms and supporting functionality.
Yonomi IoT Platform
Yonomi is the fastest way to integrate your application with smart, connected devices to your property management, energy management, wellness, and insurance software applications.
Our mission is to enable and accelerate the building and delivery of rich smart home applications for solution providers. To do this we’ve built an IoT Platform with connectivity to 100+ mass-market consumer devices and devices required for specific vertical industry use cases.
If you are interested in testing the platform, visit our developer portal.
Alternatively, if you would like to speak to someone and take a deeper dive, please schedule a meeting directly with our sales team.
Check out our other posts on IoT Platforms, IoT Integration, and the best smart devices.
IoT Platform Examples
10 Things You Should Know About IoT Security
10 Things You Should Know About IoT Integration
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