Welcome to the jungle

M2M, IoT, device management: one protocol to rule them all

Diana Kupfer

The term “Internet Things” represents a colourful spectrum of technologies, including HTTP, CoAP, lightweight M2M and OMA-DM. Julien Vermillard helps us navigate.


The term
“Internet of Things” represents a colourful spectrum of technologies,
including HTTP, CoAP, lightweight M2M and OMA-DM. In his session,
IoT, device management: one protocol to rule them all
,” due to
be presented at the Internet of
Things Conference
in September, Julien is Vermillard will
present a series of pathways for navigating the protocol jungle.
Here, he gives us a small taste of what to expect.

JAX: How did you become interested in IoT

Vermillard: In a previous life
I was developing accounting software. Boredom and curiosity drove
me to start learning electronics and embedded software, so I
switched to the industrial world – first SCADA, real-time audio
streaming and then IoT/M2M for Sierra Wireless.

You’re software engineer at Sierra Wireless.
What are your main responsibilities there?

My day to day job is to implement various
M2M/IoT protocols in the AirVantage M2M Cloud server
: OMA-DM, LWM2M/CoAP, MQTT and a couple of proprietary ones
are supported.

I have one hand in producing the server
software, and another in the aforementioned activities. I code on a
daily basis in Java, C and Go.

At IoTCon you will give an overview of
different IoT protocols. Do you have something like a “favorite”
protocol or one you are most familiar with?

I think my pet protocol is HTTP – it’s very
simple on the surface but is very complex in the details: how to
compose your user-agent, get by-range, pipelining, websockets,
HTTPS based security. For example, parsing it correctly can become
a nightmare:  www.and.org/texts/server-http

Some find this protocol diversity pretty
confusing. Does it require some kind of superpower to create a
be-all-and-end-all protocol for a great range of use cases (as you
call it, “one protocol to rule them all”) or do you think
eventually be some sort of unification?

There is a famous XKCD strip about
standards: http://xkcd.com/927/
I think it summerizes the situation quite well.

One day, one of the competing standards will be
dominating IoT space as HTTP dominate the web space (and HTTP is
far from perfect), but for now M2M/IoT is more crippled by
proprietary protocols than by too many open standards.

Ad-hoc proprietary protocols which are quite
commons in the industrial space. If we want an open IoT we need to
educate embedded software developers: maybe MQTT or CoAP is not the
perfect technical solution for your application, but using open
protocols is the only way to create the Internet of things. Only
open standards will break the cloud silos.

MQTT now has a pretty big and active community
around it. Why is this not the case with CoAP?

First CoAP is really young compared to MQTT. The
industrial space tends to need years for accepting new protocols
and specially the ones like CoAP proposing a paradigm

It has a pretty active community but it’s maybe
not as visible as the MQTT one: the IETF CoRE group, the Open
Mobile Alliance, ETSI/IPSO, the Contiki OS and everybody around

There was a heated blog debate about MQTT last
week, started by Clemens Vasters who implemented it for the first
time (vasters.com/clemensv/2014/06/02/MQTT+An+Implementers+Perspective.aspx).
I’m interested in your take on this – is there some truth in what
he says, or not?

There are some real concerns, but he misses the
main point of the MQTT protocol: it’s very simple to implement on
the client side with a perfect retro-compatibility. Yes it’s not
easy to implement on the server side, but the reward is that it’s a
trivial matter to connect your device.

If you ask to IBM, 2lemetry or HiveMQ guys they
will also prove you scalable MQTT brokers are a reality.

Probably less known is Lightweight M2M. You
are currently working on an open source implementation. Can you
briefly explain what use cases this protocol is best suited

It’s very simple, it’s a protocol for uniformly
managing your fleet of things: configuring (ex you IP address, your
security keys), upgrading (firmware, software) and monitoring
(connectivity statistics,i board temperature).

Everything for you need to safely operate your
next IoT application!

The Internet of Things is becoming the main driver of
innovation for the economy, society and culture. Intelligent,
networked devices will soon become a part of everyday and business
life: smart homes, connected cars or Industry 4.0 but are merely
the tip of the iceberg for the IoT! The Internet of Things
Conference (IoTCon), links the leaders in this innovative terrain and provides them with
first-class technical and strategic knowledge.




Diana Kupfer
Working at S&S Media since 2011, Diana Kupfer is an editor at Eclipse Magazine, Java Magazin and JAXenter.de.
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