IBM is putting down markers to establish itself in the soon to take-off 'Internet of Things', but it's going to be a highly contested area as the industry as a whole senses the looming opportunity. By Ian Scales.
Last week IBM made headlines by ‘donating’ the source code of its machine-to-machine messaging software to the Eclipse Foundation. The move effectively open sources IBM’s telemetry protocol, called Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), which was developed by IBM and Eurotech in 1999 for sensoring applications.
IBM’s move is not a wanton act of kindness, caring and sharing, but a carefully-calculated move of enlightened self-interest - and none the worse for that - designed to embed its technologies and way of viewing the world into the foundations of what it plainly sees as the coming wave: the M2M/Internet of Things.
IBM says it wants MQTT to become a core protocol in IOT, which it’s now widely agreed is going to involve low-powered (very important) networked sensors and other devices all communicating data across TCP/IP.
The technical point at issue here is whether the protocol to be used should be HTTP, which is point-to-point, or a protocol optimised for some of the important requirements for M2M - in particular so-called 'publish and subscribe' which is at the heart of MQTT and which many observers feel is the best way for the field to proceed. MQTT runs across TCP/IP (as does HTTP, of course) but it makes use of specific MQTT servers.
That means that one 'M' can publish and the other can subscribe - the two Ms don't have to establish a sustained connection to interact. This is important when the information gathering Ms are out in the field at the end of an unreliable or low-bandwidth connection and are themselves, reliant on battery power. They can publish when they're ready (connection allowing) and then power down.
Now that the protocol is in the public domain, IBM and Eurotech want a standards body to manage it and encourage its take-up.
And IBM is not alone in its M2M/IOT enthusiasm. The last six months especially has seen some heightened interest in the emerging 'Internet of Things' concept .
TelecomTV, for instance, is broadcasting a live panel session on Tuesday, November 22nd (2.00pm London, 3.00pm Central Europe, 9.00am East Coast US) we're calling 'Building the Internet of Things', sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent
as part of our Main Agenda Interactive series.
Stay tuned as we bring you more on this fast-developing field over the next couple of weeks.
Register for the Live event here
Follow the writer on Twitter @ ian_TTV
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