The Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing often go hand in hand as the IoT generates massive amounts of data and the cloud offers an effective way for end-users to store it. But while the cloud creates ease of use for end-users, issues remain with today’s cloud landscape that need to be solved.
Today’s Cloud Landscape
One of the largest issues the cloud ecosystem faces is a lack of interoperability among cloud vendors. Cloud interoperability allows the seamless deployment and migration of application workloads across hardware and software resources from multiple cloud providers or vendors. While the cloud works to streamline and automate data storage, these benefits are hindered by poor interoperability in today’s fragmented IoT ecosystem. Lack of company collaboration and industry partnerships results in vendor lock-in, which can lead to a negative end-user experience.
Finance and resource concerns are another major roadblock in cloud computing, as time and money are required to develop and maintain cloud application programming interfaces (API). Cloud API maintenance requires a training investment for technologies specific to each cloud vendor and this may affect a company’s bottom line. Another cloud ecosystem hurdle to overcome is ensuring security is implemented by design. Cloud interoperability issues and improper cloud development and maintenance often results in security vulnerabilities that exploit more attack surfaces.
OCF UCI Solves Roadblocks to Cloud Interoperability, Security and Partnerships
To fully unlock the potential of the IoT, OCF believes today’s interoperability issues must be addressed through the creation and implementation of industry standards. OCF is known for creating industry specifications to enable seamless, secure, interoperable IoT connectivity. However, historically, these specifications mainly addressed device-to-device communications. Given the current issues facing cloud computing, OCF released its 2.1 specification, which included a draft version of OCF Universal Cloud Interface (UCI). OCF UCI aims to solve the various roadblocks that are preventing seamless cloud connectivity. Acting as a generic programming interface, OCF UCI standardizes connectivity between different manufacturer’s cloud servers and between devices and the cloud.
With the OCF UCI, vendor cloud interoperability is made easier; vendors that implement OCF UCI and develop OCF 2.1 Certified devices will have assurance that their products will properly interoperate with other OCF 2.1 Certified products, regardless of manufacturer. For example, if a customer would like to check the temperature in their living room, they would be able to use their Vendor A’s smart watch to communicate with Vendor B’s thermostat via cloud to cloud communication. In addition to solving cloud interoperability, OCF UCI also employs OCF’s secure by design approach. With standardized security and interoperability built into every vendor device, the amount of potential attack surfaces is dramatically reduced.
The OCF UCI helps to streamline industry collaboration, eliminating the problem of vendor lock-in. With 400+ member companies and counting, OCF simplifies industry partnerships through its universal specifications and open source implementation. OCF members such as LG, Resideo, Samsung, Haier, Kistler and more have already begun to leverage OCF UCI to facilitate open collaboration between companies. Companies that leverage the OCF UCI will also become more time-efficient and benefit from lower training costs. Developers can now design IoT products with OCF UCI, simplifying their development work and reducing training time. OCF’s large IoT ecosystem and open source model assures that OCF UCI software is routinely updated based on user reports and errors. This makes cloud interface maintenance easier for the average developer.
With the increase in homeowner frustration and lack in industry collaboration, OCF UCI will not only create a simple experience for the consumer but will facilitate cloud partnerships for manufacturers. OCF is proud to continue its work in creating a secure, interoperable IoT by extending its proven technology to cloud-to-cloud communications.
OCF member companies may implement and certify their UCI-based products today. Those interested in learning the steps to OCF certification are encouraged to visit the OCF Certification page.
As OCF is an open, non-proprietary standard, the general public can download all versions of the OCF specification. OCF specification 2.1, which includes the OCF UCI protocol, can be downloaded here.