Open Source can Save the Internet of Things

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To a half-decent degree, open source is present in the internet of things chain of value. Cloud applications that collect and analyze our data are extremely dependent on open source software and standards.

Device manufacturers have taken up open source software at the operating system level at a 40 to 50 percent per share, but there’s also a lot of proprietary and legacy software embedded in devices and that will continue… applications will probably be proprietary because they represent an opportunity, at least in the mind of the device manufacturers.

It’s not so much the technology inside of the internet of things devices, or the user control applications where the open source would make the biggest differences. It is where the requirement or need is the greatest — its the behind-the-scenes management applications.

Without that need, customers and companies considering to invest into the internet of things technologies are having a hard time putting together all of the major pieces while the majority of them are putting off purchases all together trying to avoid being on the dead-end of a platform.

The biggest part of the internet of things standards are proprietary software, specific to niche industries. One of the most important things to do is to keep and create common open source standards for applications, software, and platforms.

We need stronger wide adoption of open source will greatly help the ecosystem growth and development, making it easier for products of different vendors to communicate and work together with one another, as well as destroying the barriers of entry for new companies wanting to enter the playing field of the internet of things.

However, with several different good open source frameworks competing, and several annoying proprietary platforms, it will take time to see who the winners are, and when it comes down to my vote, it is always going to be open source that.

Let’s Understand Open Source Better

I strongly believe that open source and the standards does more than help projects from different manufacturers and providers work together in this case. It helps by providing ready-to-go software with a community of developers that can help jump-start it’s development for security, design, performance, and so much more.

These vendors and companies get access to an even greater pool of technical skills that they don’t have to pay for or place in their information technology departments directly. Also if you know this industry, one of the hardest things to achieve and acquire are software developers and their skills.

An open source internet of things can help companies from re-inventing the wheel all over again, and also significantly reducing the time to create and market for new applications, software, and platforms. Plus, by being apart of an existing ecosystem, a vendor can focus more on their particular project and products, without having to worry about building an infrastructure.

With good solid open source projects, vendors also don’t need to worry about getting admitted into a special club, such as proprietary platforms are. Yet, a proprietary project may dictate design and other factors to the people who use that project.

Let’s take Apple as a good example of this. Apple is very selective about in the choices of devices that they support. If you would want to do some home automation with an Apple solution, you would have to buy everything, and I mean everything, from the Apple ecosystem. This is why it may and is going to fail in the long run.

Another annoying issue with proprietary platforms is that since this internet of things is now new, and there is a lot of ball game left before everything is set in stone, they may want a royalty payment from the companies that come out ahead or on top by using their platform in the future. I know for sure that I do not want to pay a royalty to my software developer, as yet another cost for choosing the platform which I did.

There are still some Major Issues

The biggest issue right now that is affecting the internet of things is fragmentation for people and companies who want to get into the internet of things.

There is a lot of arguments of how to build the software for the internet of things, such as what protocols to use, how to communicate between platforms and applications, and more. There is not a lot of standardization going on right now, nor are we going to see any for a while to come.

For example a vendor might may lights, appliances, other common household items that can interact with each other in the cloud while being managed by a smartphone. Another vendor might have a similar setup also, but not compatible with the first vendor at all. Also, there even might be a third and fourth vendor that lacks compatibility with any of the others.

The biggest issue with these vendors is that the first to get to the gate is who a lot of people are going to use and becomes a dominant player in the internet of things. Then it is bad news for new competitors wanting to enter and sell their products.

I know for sure when you are building an application, you are going to have to communicate with a wide range of device types of  incompatible protocols. Plus we would need to make tough choices of which devices to support.

Who are the top dogs right now?

From my research into this, the All Seen Alliance is the best known competing open source internet of things framework. Please remember, it is still way to early to place any bets on the internet of things.

There is also AMD making processors for the internet of things devices, and is also keeping a close eye on open source projects.

As for now, it is way to early to tell what is going to happen in the future, but I know I will be keeping a close eye out for everything to come.

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Categories: Programming, Software

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