IoT Standards Groups OCF, AllSeen Alliance Merge

AllSeen will become part of the OCF, and its AllJoyn technology will be used to create a unified IoTivity standard for connected devices and systems.

internet of things

The AllSeen Alliance, one of the early industry consortiums aimed at creating open interoperability standards for the internet of things, is being absorbed by another group with similar ambitions, the Open Connectivity Foundation.

Officials with both organizations announced Oct. 10 that the two groups are merging and that the larger consortium will keep the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) name. At the same time, the merged group will continue working on the open-source IoTivity (OCF) and AllJoyn (AllSeen) projects, eventually merging them into a single IoTivity standard.

As the internet of things (IoT) began to gain momentum several years ago, a number of industry consortiums popped up aimed at creating open standards that would enable the tens of billions of connected devices, systems and sensors that will make up the IoT to connect to the internet and communicate with each other. Industry observers worried that having so many different standards groups would lead to fragmentation in the industry, but over the past couple of years, many of these consortiums began working with each other to ensure greater unity.

The merging of the OCF and AllSeen Alliance comes after multiple reports about AllSeen's eventual demise, caused in large part by the move by many of the Qualcomm engineers who had been working on the AllJoyn standard to Intel, a key member of the OCF.

Such interoperability standards are important for the development of the IoT. If devices in a connected home can't talk to each other, their effectiveness is greatly diminished. Officials with both the OCF and AllSeen said the merger of the groups will help accelerate the development of such standards.

"By coming together as one group, we are able to make IoT a more seamless, secure experience for everyone involved, from developers to end users," Danny Lousberg, chairperson of the AllSeen Alliance, said in a statement. "The AllSeen Alliance and Open Connectivity Foundation have been working together closely to deliver a technologically comprehensive solution that makes sense for the industry and our members."

OCF Executive Director Mike Richmond said in a statement that "we are focused on building the most robust, open IoT software solution to achieve our vision—complete interoperability within the IoT."

That said, there are other efforts out there aiming to develop interoperability standards, such as the Thread Group. In addition, Google is developing Weave, which is a common communications language for devices that is part of the larger Project Brillo to create an embedded operating system for such devices.

However, there has been a trend toward greater cooperation between such organizations. For example, in July the OCF and Thread Group announced plans to work together. The two groups have different but complementary goals: The Thread Group is developing a low-power, secure and scalable IPv6-based wireless mesh network layer that is designed to enable IoT devices to connect more easily to the internet and each other, while the OCF is creating an application layer that would run on top of the network. The organizations want to create a framework that covers users from the connectivity of their devices to the interactions between applications.

Other efforts include the OCF and Industrial Internet Consortium working more closely, and the Thread Group and ZigBee Alliance partnering.

The AllSeen Alliance was developing the AllJoyn standard, which was first created by Qualcomm. Meanwhile, the OCF—which initially was known as the Open Interconnect Consortium until earlier this year when the name changed after Microsoft and Qualcomm joined the group—is focused on the IoTivity standard.

According to the two groups, the new OCF will continue developing both the IoTivity and AllJoyn projects under the auspices of the Linux Foundation. Eventually there will be a single IoTivity implementation that offers the best of the previous two standards, and officials said that current devices running on either AllJoyn or IoTivity will be interoperability and backward-compatible with the unified IoTivity standard. There are millions of AllJoyn-enabled products on the market.

In August the OCF announced a new automotive project to drive interoperability between automotive and other verticals, such as consumer electronics, health care, home automation, wearables and enterprises.