The M2M toll bridge

The Internet of Things gets a “stargate” in Eclipse Ponte

Chris Mayer

New project aims to increase security, standardise data formats and messaging protocols.

While the “Internet of Things” is only just gaining ground
in corporate circles, the Eclipse Foundation has acted as

a thriving hub for machine-to-machine (M2M)
technology projects. Rather than resting on established projects
like Paho, Mihini and Koneki, a new proposal has shored up at the
open source foundation promising to
solve many of
M2M’s biggest problems

The scope of Eclipse
is threefold. Its primary purpose is to
define a “simple REST API” that exposes multiple protocols such as
MQTT (recently targeted by

OASIS to be standardised
) and CoAP. Without
a lingua franca for M2M, ensuring that devices can communicate with
one another is impossible unless there is a standard API to

link them together.

With some many devices out in the open and
exposable, Ponte also plans to tackle security by defining and
building an embeddable “user-driven security solution”, based on
OAuth2, to put minds at ease. With this in place, the owner and the
end user are able to authorize access on any given

The project’s creators also want to “embrace” and “convert”
multiple data formats, including JSON and XML, with the long-term
goal of ushering in a common representation of sensor and actuator

It is a bold and noble intention to bridge together a rather
fragmented landscape, but is it biting off more than it can chew?
After all, the Internet of Things encompasses many different
devices with varying requirements, as well as even more companies,
each with very specific individual needs. Is establishing best
practices early a mistake?

Its creator Matteo Collina doesn’t think so. Collina admits that
it might be hard to define a protocol that appeases everyone, but
believes it can be achieved by keeping developers in “their comfort

Ponte’s initial contribution is based on QEST, a prototype
broker described as “a stargate between the universe of devices
speaking MQTT”. The project is coded in CoffeeScript, a JavaScript
pre-processor, although there are plans to migrate QEST to
JavaScript in order to open it up to a larger web developer

However, as the Github project is built on
top of node.js, certain legal hurdles need to be overcome before
Ponte can move beyond just being a proposal.

There looks to be plenty work ahead for Ponte, but its
initial proposal is encouraging. Easing the learning curve for
developers keen to build M2M solutions is something that the field
needs to truly live up to its lofty promises.

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