By Nathan Heldt-Sheller, Software Architect, Intel
The IoT ecosystem is vast and growing at a rapid pace. Developers and vendors alike are pressured to keep pace. However, IoT development has complex needs and calls for specific expertise; this combination can ultimately slow time to market.
Open source projects offer a way to meet the challenge of developing solutions for a complex IoT ecosystem in a relevant timeframe.
Time-saving and Customization
Beginning with a mature open source implementation means that developers re-use existing solutions, rather than spending time re-inventing common infrastructure. Product creators may not have the low-level software expertise in-house. Open source IoT infrastructure allows a developer to inherit a robust underlying communications stack and sample application code, and then focus on adding value at the application layer.
Open source components drastically reduce time to market and enable products to be developed in a fraction of the time.
While the IoT is booming, it is still in its early stages. Be re-using mature underlying components, developers avoid common pitfalls common in first-time implementations. These open-source components are extensively reviewed by experts in the field, with improvements being identified and addressed by a much larger community of contributors. Industry organizations such as the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) create standards to ensure interoperation and offer open source software to establish a proven basis for the IoT market. In an industry where security is of utmost importance, the value of a solution that proactively addresses security from the outset – rather than patching up vulnerabilities as an afterthought – cannot be overstated. Experts in security architecture and implementation have put substantial time into creating a robust baseline, all to try to ensure the “weak link” will not be the open source components in the IoT ecosystem.
Scalability and Reliability
For an IoT developer, scalability and reliability are also top priorities. IoT devices have specific needs, such as lightweight messaging for sensor networks, near-field communication and low-power high-range applications. Open source IoT solutions are built by the industry’s experts with these needs in mind, with considerations of both the vertical and horizontal components of the IoT. If a developer’s main question is “does it work?” then open source implementations demonstrate that it will, and do so in advance of a decision to adopt.
The Open Connectivity Foundation is dedicated to enabling IoT interoperability by developing industry standards that allow IoT devices to effectively communicate securely and efficiently. The strength of OCF is that its specifications are created from simple, consistent public resources. Any complex device can be created from this simple collection of open source components, allowing developers to easily design and scale their devices.
In addition, the OCF has sponsored the IoTivity project, which delivers an open source reference implementation of the OCF standard specifications. The IoTivity umbrella features both IoTivity Classic and IoTivity-Lite, which are interoperable and certifiable to the OCF 2.0.1 specifications. Developers may download the latest IoTivity releases here.
In addition to the IoT device stack, IoTivity offers a robust set of development and testing tools, certification tools, and reference applications, all for free.
As a developer, starting with a rich set of tools and resources saves time, provides expertise, and ensures them that their devices will work and scale accordingly. This is why the OCF provides developers with an array of resources and support from a large, supportive IoT developer community.
We encourage you to visit the Open Connectivity Foundation developer page for more information on the OCF Developer Program and tools made available to developers through the OCF.