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Internet of Things roundtable: Experts discuss what to look for in IoT platforms

Bruce Sinclair, President, Iot-Inc. | Sept. 24, 2014
IoT Platform products are still in their infancy, but there are already more than 20 on the market today. Seven experts discuss the critical areas to consider: security, sensor compatibility, analytics compatibility, APIs and standards.

Networking is at the heart of every Internet of Things deployment, connecting sensors and other "Things" to the apps that interpret the data or take action.

But these are still early days.  Assembling an IoT network from commercial off-the-shelf components is still, let's just say, a work in progress.  This will change over time, but for now the technical immaturity is being addressed by System Integrators building custom code to connect disparate parts and by a new class of network meta-product known as the IoT Platform. 

IoT Platform products are still in their infancy, but there are already more than 20 on the market today.  Approaches vary, so when making a build or buy decision, consider these critical areas of IoT Platform tech:  security, sensor compatibility, analytics compatibility, APIs and standards.

To see where we stand on developments in these areas, I emailed experts from seven IoT Platform companies, big and small, asking for input: Roberto De La Mora, Sr. Director at Cisco, Steve Jennis, SVP at PrismTech, Bryan Kester, CEO at SeeControl, Lothar Schubert, Platform Marketing leader, GE Software, Niall Murphy, Founder & CEO at EVRYTHNG, Alan Tait, Technical Manager at Stream Technologies and Raj Vaswani, CTO and Co-Founder, Silver Spring Networks. Here's what they had to say:

* Security

De La Mora: Security technologies and solutions that are omnipresent in IT networks can be adapted (carefully) to serve Operational Technology in IoT environments.  But security is not about adding firewalls or IPS/IDS systems here and there.  Cyber Security for IoT should follow a model applied at every layer of the architecture, and be combined with physical security to add intelligence to the operation via data correlation and analytics.

Jennis: Without a standards-based security framework it is very difficult to create communication channels that are both secure and interoperable.  An interoperable security solution is very important in order to prevent vendor lock-in and to enable the system to be extended if required.

Kester: Sophisticated customers are encrypting traffic between the sensor board and the cloud.  However most deployments are using private VPNs which don't require a lot precious CPU or RAM from the remote device/system.

Murphy: Crypto-secure digital identities for physical things enable authenticated identities online by applying token-based security methods through Web standards to manage application access to these digital identities.

Vaswani: Embed security at each layer of the network, including sophisticated authentication and authorization techniques for all intelligent endpoints, require digital signatures and private keys to prevent any unauthorized access or activity on the system, and end-to-end encryption for all communications across the network.  Incorporating physical tamper detection and resistance technologies further reduces the risk of unauthorized access and monitoring.

* Sensor Compatibility

Jennis: The following Platform considerations should be taken into account:

 

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