Now you can believe the hype

OASIS makes MQTT gold standard for Internet of Things

Chris Mayer

Is OASIS’s seal of approval exactly what the Internet of Things needs to meet its lofty goals?

The term ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) has generated a lot of column inches in recent months. Back in January, analysts Gartner stated that the area would go mainstream in the next three years, with enterprises set to “initiate pilot projects in 2013” to ready themselves for the boom period. Cisco estimates the “business opportunity” for IoT to be worth $14.4 trillion for example.

For the uninitiated in the dark arts of marketing terms, ‘the Internet of Things’ is essentially the next logical step for cloud and big data technologies – a network of interconnected low footprint devices, such as sensors, that captures events and interact with each other. For example, collecting data from a network of blood pressure sensors in a hospital to the Internet allows you to create modern applications with that data.

In the past week alone, there have been two big announcements centred on IoT. Pivotal, the newly formed company from VMware and EMC’s data and cloud assets, announced their new platform Pivotal One, with a heavy focus on advanced networking between embedded devices. IBM also unveiled their strategy at their annual Impact conference, taking the covers off new appliance MessageSight, capable of handling the reams of messages incoming from embedded devices.

You’d assume with all the hype that the technology underpinning IoT would be new, but this isn’t the case. Machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies such as MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport), have been around for well over a decade. There are a number of reasons why it has taken this long to reach fruition though. As we know, it is far easier (and cheaper) to store and process large amounts of data in today’s climate. Embedded devices are far more powerful and indeed plentiful, because of cost, and the network infrastructure is far more stable.

The Eclipse Foundation has acted as the hub for the M2M ecosystem in recent years, with a number of intriguing open source projects pushing the envelope in open standards. These include the M2M tools project Koneki, embedded framework Mihini and Paho, for developing open messaging implementations. These efforts have been the result of the M2M Industry Working Group, bringing together companies to discuss new solutions and discuss the lack of interoperability in the space. (Editor’s Note – Benjamin Cabé’s overview does a great job of outlining Eclipse’s involvement)

If we are really going to see 50 billion connected devices by 2020, then a standard must be in place to drive adoption. Arguably this week’s most important news in that case was the announcement that standards body OASIS have given their seal of approval to MQTT being the messaging protocol of choice.

A newly created OASIS MQTT Technical Committee will now work towards developing a standardised version of the publish/subscribe messaging transport protocol, after original authors IBM and Eurotech gave their blessing. Being endorsed by industry heavyweights Red Hat, Cisco and Software AG (who will also provide engineers to the project) should help MQTT became the lingua franca for IoT.

“We applaud IBM and Eurotech for bringing MQTT into the OASIS open standards process. Companies feel more confident about implementing the protocol when they can actively participate in its future. said Laurent Liscia, OASIS CEO.

Much like the HTTP protocol did before, a standard protocol should really help pave the way towards acceptance, and crucially for enterprises, attain the astronomical figures many analysts are placing heavily on the Internet of Things.

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