App Developers in Highly Connected IoT World Must Take New Tack

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2015-01-19 Print this article Print
IoT apps

Perhaps the most significant open-source contribution to the world of IoT application development comes from the Eclipse Foundation.

"Our goal at Eclipse is to be the open-source community that provides the basic technology building blocks for the Internet of things," Ian Skerrett, vice president of marketing and ecosystem at the Eclipse Foundation, told eWEEK. "We believe for the Internet of things to be successful, it needs to be based on open standards and open source. The current state of the IoT industry is a lot of proprietary vendors attempting to lock customers into their own solutions and protocols."

At JavaOne 2014 last September, Eclipse delivered an open IoT Stack for Java developers. The stack is designed to simplify IoT development by enabling developers to reuse a core set of frameworks and services in their solutions.

The Eclipse Foundation is working toward creating a Java platform for IoT that is targeted at connecting and managing devices," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of Eclipse. "And our goal with this is to ensure that Java developers have a free and open-source platform for building IoT solutions."

The Eclipse Open IoT Stack for Java is a set of Java frameworks and OSGi services that make it easy to connect and manage IoT solutions. The Open IoT Stack for Java includes support for OASIS MQTT, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) CoAP and the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Lightweight M2M (LWM2M), as well as providing a set of services for building IoT gateways. In addition to the core Open IoT Stack, a set of industrial frameworks is available to accelerate the process of creating home automation and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) factory automation solutions.

"IoT is a huge opportunity, and it is obviously attracting an enormous amount of investment and an enormous amount of hype," Milinkovich told eWEEK. "But I definitely believe that the core infrastructure pieces of the Internet of things have to be based on open source.

"Part of the reason that's true is simply because any other business model will not scale. When you're talking about literally tens of billions of devices and sensors and then probably a few billion device gateways, if the software infrastructure that's running on those is anything other than open source, I just don't see how the IoT ecosystem can scale to the dimensions required," he said.

A Tool Maker's IoT Vision

Development toolmaker Embarcadero Technologies is pursuing its own technology strategy to help developers build a new breed of connected apps for the burgeoning IoT market. Embarcadero focuses on four key areas of interconnection—mobile and desktop devices, gadgets, cloud services and data—and is offering new technologies to address these key areas and enable the development of IoT apps.

The device landscape has moved beyond just PCs, tablets and smartphones to wearables, sensors, home automation and connected cars; and this presents a completely new app ecosystem.

"Apps no longer live on a single device, and instead, are interconnected across a broad range of 'things' to deliver an integrated yet distributed solution," Michael Swindell, senior vice president of products at Embarcadero, said in a statement. "Now, with the increasing focus on IoT app development and the potential for the number of connected 'things,' developers will need to focus more on the creation of innovative and practical apps that leverage IoT, and less on the mechanics of connecting each 'thing.'"

Embarcadero's technologies for developing connected apps for IoT include the company's new FireUI user interface design for multiple form factors and devices. It enables developers to create a shared master UI form across all devices and form factors, leveraging common user interface source code that can be optimized for the native platform experience on each specific device form factor.

Embarcadero's Enterprise Mobility Services (EMS) support connectivity with back-end enterprise data and APIs needed for building connected apps for the IoT. As a turnkey mobile middleware solution, EMS can be deployed on-premise or into a private cloud, and provides user authentication and analytics. In addition, using the latest release of Embarcadero's Appmethod development platform, developers can build apps for Android, iOS, Windows and OS X that interconnect with IoT via Bluetooth and WiFi app tethering.


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