Open source and IoT: A match made for the enterprise

This article was published in my column

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most competitive spaces in the enterprise software market. From horizontal platforms to solutions in specific areas such as networking, security, analytics or integration, the market has exploded with platforms that promise be the silver bullet for the adoption of smart devices in the enterprise. Typically crowded technology markets are a catalyst for the adoption of open source technologies and the IoT space should not be different. We think open source IoT platforms will, eventually, become more dominant in the enterprise.

From close source expertise to open source

While the case for the adoption of open source IoT technologies makes tremendous logic sense, most of the traction of IoT technologies in the enterprise have been centered on either cloud platforms or closed source commercial solutions. This is a very typical phenomenon in complex and nascent enterprise software markets.

Some of the initial IoT platforms that have gained traction in the enterprise come from the traditional IT school that favors closed source, commercial distribution models. Cloud IoT platforms are also a great fit for enterprises in these early days given that they removed many of the complexities associated with an IoT infrastructure. However, as the enterprise requirements evolves, we think open source IoT platforms will become more and more relevant in the enterprise.

5 reasons to favor open source IoT solutions

The enterprise IoT space is changing an order of magnitude faster than any other enterprise software trend in the last decades. This factor makes it very difficult for IoT platforms maintained by a single vendor to keep up with all the new standards, requirements and technologies could be incorporated into the platform. An open source developer community can help IoT vendors to keep up with the changes in the market and evolve their technology at a faster pace.

Enterprise IoT solutions present incredibly complicated requirements that very often fall outside the capabilities of an IoT platform. Open source IoT technologies allow enterprises to extend and modify the underlying platform to tailor the platform to their specific requirements.

Interoperability with IoT devices is an essential element of enterprise IoT platform. However, no single vendor can possibly maintain SDKs or adapter for the tens of thousands of IoT devices in the market. Open source distribution models will allow device manufacturers to control and evolve the interoperability with different IoT platforms and use that as a distribution channel for their smart devices.

The developer communities created by open source IoT technologies will play a key role in the evolution and adaptability of these platforms. This factor will also allow enterprises to access the talent required to implement IoT infrastructures and solutions without solely relying on expensive system integrators.

Industry specific IoT solutions are experiencing a tremendous adoption in the market. Even though these solutions are very effective addressing industry specific scenarios, they often lack the robust infrastructure capabilities provided by horizontal IoT platforms. An open source model will allow ISVs to build their solutions on top of sophisticated IoT platforms and, as a result, leverage the developer and partner communities created by those open source IoT platforms.

5 cool open source IoT projects

As the IoT market evolves, we are witnessing the evolution of cool open source projects and platforms in the space. Some of these platforms have the potential of becoming extremely relevant in enterprise IoT solutions. Here are 5 cool open source IoT projects that are worth keeping an eye on.

Kaa is an open source, for building, managing, and integrating smart IOT devices. Kaa provides a standardized approach for integration and interoperation across connected products. In addition, Kaa’s powerful back-end functionality greatly speeds up product development, allowing vendors to concentrate on maximizing their product’s unique value to the consumer. Kaa is a great solutions for enterprises adopting IoT middleware solutions.

GE PRedix is an open source IoT PaaS model for the industrial enterprise. Based on Cloud Foundry, GE Predix adds a new group of services and capabilities relevant to IoT industrial solutions. Specifically, GE Predix extends Cloud Foundry with IoT specific services such as asset management, device security, real time analytics, and other capabilities relevant in IoT. By many metrics, GE Predix can be considered the most successful IoT platform in the market claiming $6B in revenue last year. In any case, GE Predix is a very strong validation of Cloud Foundry as one of the platforms that can become pivotal in the next generation of IoT solutions in the enterprise.

Macchina.IO is an open source framework for building embedded applications for the Internet of Things that run on Linux-based devices like the Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone, RED Brick or Galileo/Edison. Macchina.IO is a great solution for enterprises looking to connect smart devices with their cloud services and solutions.

NetBeast is an open source, hardware independent, JavaScript based platform that allows technology to interact regardless of brand or technology. Netbeast builds on their developer community to grow on their support of IoT products through a scalable API that allows developers to declare new ways of connecting with brands and protocols.

Another open source integration framework, Node-RED is a tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. Node-RED provides a browser-based flow editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using the wide range nodes in the palette. Flows can be then deployed to the runtime in a single-click.

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, I write The Sequence Newsletter, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.

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