Add the Open Connectivity Foundation to the growing list of Internet of things standards groups. Microsoft, along with other leading technology companies including Cisco, General Electric, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung, have come together to form the OCF, announced the Redmond, Wash., software maker on Friday.
The OCF will focus on developing industry standards for the Internet of things, said Terry Myerson, executive vice President of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, in a Feb. 19 blog post. "Together, our goal is to accelerate industry innovation for all of our customers, ultimately benefiting billions of people around the world."
Although only officially a few days old, the OCF already boasts over 150 members. Other notable IT companies include IBM, Dell and Lenovo, to name a few. Asia currently leads with 66 members, followed by North America with 60 members.
Anticipating rapid growth for the market, technology vendors are not only boosting their IoT investments, but they are forging major alliances in a bid to promote interoperability. In December, analyst firm IDC predicted that IoT spending would hit $1.3 trillion in 2020, nearly double the $689 billion spent last year.
Faced with this opportunity, and given the interconnected nature of the IoT along with the staggering variety of device and sensor data that is bringing it to life, IT providers are motivated to avoid fragmenting the burgeoning market.
"Despite the opportunity and promise of IoT to connect devices in the home or in businesses, competition between various open standards and closed company protocols have slowed adoption and innovation," said Myerson. "Much like W3C manages the standards for the World Wide Web, the IEEE sets electrical engineering standards and the UPU sets the global postal code—standardization can help consolidate industry attention and create opportunity, via an agreed upon set of protocols that move industries and the world forward."
For Microsoft, the IoT could help the company achieve its ambitious goal of 1 billion active Windows 10 devices by mid-2018.
"Windows 10 devices will natively interoperate with the new OCF standard, making it easy for Windows to discover, communicate, and orchestrate multiple IoT devices in the home, in business, and beyond," stated Myerson. "The OCF standards will also be fully compatible with the 200 million Windows 10 devices that are 'designed for AllSeen' today."
Launched in December 2013 to promote IoT device interoperability, the AllSeen Alliance boasts a similarly impressive roster. Supporters include Microsoft, Cisco Systems, LG, Panasonic and Symantec, among others.
Microsoft is also enlisting its Azure cloud-computing platform. "Today, Windows and Azure are the platforms powering a variety of IoT devices across the home and many industries including manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and much more," Myerson said.
Earlier this month, Microsoft officially launched Azure IoT Hub, a device connection and management cloud service that supports massive deployments. "Azure IoT Hub provides an easy and secure way to connect, provision and manage billions of IoT devices sending and receiving trillions of messages per month," boasted Sam George, partner director for Microsoft Azure IoT.