We have been talking about M2M for more than a decade, but like any great invention it takes time for the consuming public to embrace it. It’s funny, I am reading more and more articles from other journalists and news media that are finally starting to catch on. In fact, I read an article the other day in which the author said, “….one development that seems likely to be big is the Internet of things. In a sense, that’s a certainty: it is based on the idea that billions of objects will be networked together, and so it is defined by a scale beyond the current Internet.”
The good news, or should I say great news for all of us who get it, is that it appears M2M is finally gaining some traction and as a result, it’s party time. Or maybe I should really be saying it’s time to get serious about developing applications for connected devices.
The difference now is that this new connected world is getting an extra shot in the arm with the recent announcement of IBM and Eurotech—which have been working on a open source code since 1999—have agreed to donate their source code to Sierra Wireless and Eclipse Foundation, making this protocol ready for prime time and tossing it into the public domain.
Eclipse Foundation is a not-for-profit member organization supported by the open-source community with the sole purpose of building open-development platforms and frameworks. I think this is a very smart move on their part for giving the industry the kick in the pants it needs. If executed properly, M2M should now be propelled forward much like we witnessed a plethora of applications for the Android smartphone emerge almost overnight. Now we have a chance to see this common standards body help new applications emerge for M2M devices with the same enthusiasm and excitement. This will really inspire developers to partner and create a standards body to propel the development of common standards and common goals for the industry.
IBM and Eurotech have been working with MQTT as the core publish/subscribe protocol for low-powered networked sensors and other devices all communicating data across TCP/IP. The real sticking point among some developers and vendors is whether the protocol to be used should be HTTP. The point in question is that it means that it can publish and the other side can subscribe—however, it doesn’t have to establish a sustained connection to interact. Therefore, the data collection in the field can prove to be unreliable or low-bandwidth connection in and of themselves can become dependent on battery power. As a result they can publish when they’re ready, if a connection is available, and then power down.
I think this comes at a very critical juncture to get companies to embrace what the industry has been preaching for years. It’s time the industry rallies as one voice. For too long now the industry has been fragmented with too many TLAs/FLAs (three/four letter acronyms) or just trying to one up each other, rather than trying to band together to build an community to serve a common good. Connecting our world means solving real problems. Not creating confusion. M2M is the underlying technology that serves the various businesses and products we use every day.
It’s really that simple. Nokia tried to unite the OEMs, network providers, and developers many years ago, but failed. It failed because companies didn’t understand that they needed to unite on a common standard. They needed to set aside egos to solve real-world problems to bring applications to market that solve problems rather than constantly reinventing solutions that didn’t impact societies true needs and wants.
By making this source code open to the entire industry you are encouraging rapid growth and tearing down the bearers of incompatible platforms and protocols. So, after more than a decade of observation, I’d say it’s party time.