This is the first of a two-part series about the Open Connectivity Foundation’s 2.0 features
The Open Connectivity Foundation’s 2.0 Specification includes several new features focused on security and device-to-device connectivity over the cloud. The new OCF cloud features (CoAP Native Cloud, Resource Directory, and Cloud Configuration) enable smart home devices to communicate with each other across networks via the cloud.
In previous versions of the specification, IoT devices could communicate with each other over the proximal network. But once users left their homes, they were unable to control their devices via their tablet or mobile phone. With the new cloud features, this will no longer be a problem.
With the new release, OCF has defined a standardized way for devices to communicate across networks. During the onboarding process, the device is connected to a cloud service, and this cloud service provides a way for devices that are on different networks to communicate with each other.
Connecting IOT device to cloud services is nothing new, however the technology chosen by OCF means that every cloud-enabled device can be used in conjunction with every instantiation of the OCF cloud. Multiple instantiations of OCF might exist, and they might be supplied by different vendors. The end user of the device can choose any of the OCF cloud service providers it wants to use, regardless of the manufacturer of the device.
The cloud connectivity is a secure protocol and has an account for the service. All devices connected to the account will be visible from the OCF cloud client. The devices connected to the cloud will be listed to a resource directory, which acts as a list of devices per account. The communication between the OCF cloud client and a cloud-connected device will go through the resource directory. Since all connections are made from the proximal networks to the cloud, it means that, even when network firewalls are in place, communication can still be established.
One use case is the common smart-home scenario where the user isn’t at home or on their local network, but wants to control their device remotely – for example, changing the temperature with a smart thermostat. With the new features, users can literally do this from anywhere in the world.
Aside from the smart-home example, there are also enterprise applications, including remote access. The primary advantage of the 2.0 specification is that it is an international standard that provides a way for devices to talk to each other locally. This ensures that same standard can accommodate additional use cases, so consumers get interoperability between any cloud service and any device that supports the new features.