Microsoft has thrown its considerable might behind the AllSeen Alliance, becoming the latest tech vendor to join the 6-month-old consortium that is working to build an open platform for the Internet of things.
Microsoft on July 2 became the group's 51st member, joining a range of other tech heavyweights and smaller vendors like Panasonic, Cisco Systems, Symantec, LG Electronics and Qualcomm. AllSeen, which launched in late December 2013, is a project of the Linux Foundation and is creating an open framework for the Internet of things (IoT) based on the AllJoyn open-source code originally developed by Qualcomm.
The announcement of Microsoft's membership came a day after the consortium announced the latest beta version of AllJoyn, Version 14.06, which proponents said offers enhancements that improve security and performance through the use of elliptic curve cryptography and features that simplify machine-to-machine interactions, reduce power use and optimize publish/subscribe use cases, such as sensors.
"The result is significant performance improvements to overall network performance and the basis for the next stage in the evolution of the platform," Greg Burns, chairman of AllSeen's Technical Steering Committee and vice president of engineering at Qualcomm Connected Experiences, said in a post on the consortium's blog.
The IoT encompasses the growing number of intelligent devices, sensors and systems—from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to manufacturing systems, cars, home appliances and health care devices—that are becoming increasingly connected to each other, generating and sharing massive amounts of data. Cisco officials have said that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020 and that the Internet of everything—which the networking vendor says includes the IoT—will be worth as much as $19 trillion to companies worldwide by the end of the decade.
The AllJoyn open source code is the basis for the consortium's framework, which is being designed to enable connected devices to automatically discover and interact with nearby products regardless of the underlying technology or communications protocols. The group noted the reach of Microsoft's Windows operating system, saying that there are more than 1 billion Windows devices in the market.
"No single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the Internet of Everything in everyday, real-life scenarios," AllSeen Chairman Liat Ben-Zur said in a statement. "Microsoft's strong presence in the home via computers, tablets, phones, gaming platforms and their strength in the consumer, enterprise, education, industrial automotive sectors, uniquely enables them to accelerate the adoption of the AllSeen Alliance's AllJoyn open source code across a very wide swath of products and verticals."
Kevin Dallas, general manager of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, said the IoT is already under way today in various connected devices and sensors—as well as cloud infrastructures—in operation.
"In order to make the Internet of Things truly successful, there are challenges to be addressed in securely connecting and managing all these devices and interacting with cloud services and machine-generated data," Dallas said.
AllSeen isn't the only group looking to leverage open standards for the IoT. The 3-month-old Industrial Internet Consortium—founded in March by such vendors as Cisco, Intel, IBM and A&T—also recently saw its membership move past 50. In addition, a U.K.-based consortium that includes IBM, Intel and ARM last month launched the open HyperCat spec that proponents said will enable connected machines and sensors to more easily discover data and resources across the Internet with minimal human intervention.