IoT and Communications Standards

The Internet of Things (IoT) is getting a lot of attention these days. From the standards point of view, there are several aspects. One is networking and communications. There was a timely meetup by IEEE Communications Society Santa Clara Valley (SCV) to discuss IoT standards in networking and communications.

One of the two speakers was Pete St. Pierre, President, IPSO Alliance. He talked about standards that are applied to IoT.

IPSO’s charter is (from their website):

“The IPSO Alliance will perform interoperability tests, document the use of new IP-based technologies, conduct marketing activities and serve as an information repository for users seeking to understand the role of IP in networks of physical objects. Its role will complement the work of entities such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) or the ISA which develop and ratify technical standards in the Internet community.

The IPSO Alliance is an open, informal and thought-leading association of like-minded organizations and individuals that promote the value of using the Internet Protocol for the networking of Smart Objects.”

Pete St. Pierre

Pete’s talk was brief but made very interesting points about standards as they are applied to IoT. The following is a summary of his talks and some of my takeaways.

Types of Standards  

There are three types of standards:

  1. Fundamental technical standards
  2. Consortium-created standards
  3. Open source

Fundamental technical standards

Fundamental technical standards are meant to define basic building blocks for interoperability. Some of the organizations responsible for producing this type of standards are:

Other points he made were (from his slides):

  • Each standard tends to focus on a particular subset of the communications stack.
  • Each is created within the structure of national/international Standard Definition Organizations (SDOs).
  • Work groups shut down or recharter when the work is done.

Consortium-created standards

Consortium-created standards are often composed of fundamental technical standards from other organizations (SDOs). They usually come as a package, and you may only need some of them.

Such consortia include:

Standards with open source

Leading open source projects:

Points from his slides:

  • A shared code base with multiple contributions and/or consumers
  • Minimum documentation available to produce implementations for alternate languages or platforms
  • Products interoperate because everyone runs the same bugs
  • May become a de facto standard

In addition, the following consortia are worth monitoring for IoT.

 Alliance/Consortium  Standardization Effort
 IPSO Alliance  Data representation, vertical agnostic
 IETF  Communication, encoding
 AllSeen Alliance  Proximal device connectivity, OSS
 Open Interconnect  Consortium     E2E IoT architecture
 Industrial Internet Consortium  Vertical solutions for industrial applications
 IEEE P2413  E2E architecture
 Open Mobile Alliance (OMA)  Device management, object registries
 Thread Group  802.15.4 for smart home networks
 OSGI Alliance IoT Expert Group  Bring IoT focus to OSGI

Conclusion and takeaways

Pete concluded his presentation by listing questions to ask when a particular standard is applied to your IoT environment:

  1. How is each standard defined?
  2. Is it a fundamental technical standard?
  3. Which solution-specific constraints are imposed for consideration?

The IoT market is still evolving rapidly. It is very useful to know which networking and communications standards are available.

The next thing I am interested in is the security that goes with these standards. I think IoT will contribute to energy efficiency for both IT and other industries.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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