Whenever you attend IoT events these days, there’s one question that is always debated intensively. Do we really need a common standard for the Internet of Things, or are we fine with what we have? While some say we have already got what we need and the rest can be done with gateways, others passionately advocate for horizontal standardization. At the annual M2M Summit of the German based M2M Alliance in Düsseldorf, the discussion continued.
The M2M Alliance, with its 85 members originating from 15 different countries, is one of the worlds leading inter-trade organization with the goal to support the development of machine-to-machine communication as well as IoT technologies and solutions. Each year the organization hosts a two-day event, the M2M Summit, held in Düsseldorf, capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany. This year from October 5th to 6th. As well as an exhibition area the event is accompanied by a conference program with panel discussions, presentations and keynote speeches.
Standardization […] on the connectivity level is the easier excercise. The bigger challenge will be […] the application level. So far here we only have standards in each individual vertical industry
Even though standardization was one of the main topics at the M2M summit, one has to state, that the opinions on standards are not unanimous. Some want to continue selling sheer connectivity via mobile cards, others offer state of the art cloud platforms for the Internet of Things. And if device A cannot communicate with device B, then the solution is to just add a gateway in between and everything is fine.
At the M2M Summit press conference, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Axel Sikora from the Institute of Reliable Embedded Systems and Communication Electronics Offenburg University of Applied Sciences, advocated stronger effort towards standardization. “Standardization on the lower, the pure connectivity level, is the easier exercise. The bigger challenge will be to connect the machines in such a way, that they do not only talk to each other but actually understand each other. This application level, this semantic level – what is one side talking about and does the other side really understand – including topics like authentication and authorization – these are actually the bigger challenges. So far we only have standards for that in each individual vertical industry.”
(English subtitles available via Youbtube settings)
Whatever your opinion about this topic is, here are four good reasons why we at Lemonbeat think, that an overall standardization across the industries is inevitable:
- Security: Less different languages and proprietary solutions means less translation which leads to less gateways needing to be installed and less available backdoors for malicious attacks on IoT systems.
- Reliability: Direct communication between different devices with a common language makes the whole IoT use case less dependent on gateway or cloud-solutions which results in higher reliability. You really don’t need to send everything to a central unit to make your IoT case work.
- Cost efficiency: Less gateways mean less expenditure for additional hardware and maintenance of the whole setup. Especially in the Building Automation field or Smart City solutions, without common standards you could spend a lot of extra money for all kinds of additional devices.
- Scalability: A standard for everything within the world of IoT makes each setup much more flexible and scalable. Even if it’s in the vendors main (and understandable) interest to keep their customers within their enclosed system, there will come the point, that users want to extend their IoT setup with products vendor A might not deliver. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, customers might think twice before selecting a solution in the first place.
2 Official Website, M2M Summit
3 Prof. Dr.-Ing. Axel Sikora, Personal Details, University Offenburg
4 Official Website, University Offenburg