In Part 1 of this blog series, I spoke of the IoT taxonomy. Part 2, dealt with device connectivity. Part 3 discussed the benefits of a Cloud Platform-as-a-Service as a delivery vehicle for IoT. However, to make this practical, let’s double click on device connectivity.
Device connectivity should leverage standards for device communication wherever appropriate, but this is not the reality today. Manufacturers sometimes want proprietary interfaces to create lock-in and sometimes, companies that are competitors don’t partner in order to standardize.
However, you’ll soon begin to see an emergence of what SAP calls “Industry Clouds”, which is a set of industry device data in a cloud.
At the 2009 Mobile World Congress, Beecham Research showed a great breakdown of the types of devices by industry that will require connectivity. This is across Device/Location/Application Group/Service sector, etc.
In some industries, like Healthcare, there are not a lot of standards, as every device manufacturer is building to their own custom proprietary communication protocol. However, in other industries, like Automotive, standards should be evolving and SAP is looking at participating in driving standards through projects like “Connected Car”. Standards will make it easier and simpler to connect to devices regardless of manufacturer. Until then, I imagine we will work to ensure that it is “easy” to implement custom adapters for devices and leverage a common delivery approach for M2A, M2M, M2D, and M2P respectively.
NOTE: There is a distinction between industry specific standards and generic standards. In the case of IoT, both are emerging in parallel via consortiums and standards bodies.
SAP has been part of OASIS and Web Standards for some time now and has also joined Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC). While there are other standards such as oneM2M or OIC, we’re following and pushing to drive towards broader connectivity standardization wherever possible.
I find that typically, IoT scenarios today don’t cross industry. For example, how often does a Philipps MRI need to talk to a toaster? The answer is “never”. Therefore, the power of industry clouds is that they cover a good basis for all device data within a particular industry. There will always emerge cross-industry scenarios, but I believe the maturity cycle is farther down the line and in more consumer use cases.
As for a “Universal Connector Standard”, I think this is a pipe dream. Given that the industry will fragment between proprietary closed connectivity and open connectivity, I imagine a Universal Standard on communication will likely not be coming this century. Therefore, the best approach is to leverage Industry Data Clouds as a layer to work with specific industry data, efficiently and openly.
The easiest way to derive value for IoT today is to leverage IoT applications and I’ll speak about SAP’s plans for IoT apps in Part 5 of this blog series.