IoT standards must start in the cloud

The complexity of the Internet of things will only get worse, and focusing on interoperability is not the solution

IoT standards must start in the cloud

In the next five years, our homes will have lots of devices connected to cloud services: thermostats, security systems, refrigerators, washers, dryers, coffeemakers, cars, TVs, set-top-boxes, doorbells, light switches ... you name it.

All the Internet of things devices will communicate with different cloud systems for data storage, compute services, and software updates. Our homes may suffer from a level of cloud complexity to rival that of smaller enterprises.

In turn, enterprises will have evermore complexity. Thousands of industrial devices will need to be monitored and gigabytes of data transmitted on a daily basis. However, each device manufacturer will have its own cloud, so we’ll have enterprise devices connected to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of back-end cloud systems.

Before the situation gets out of hand, let’s think about common cloud services that can be used as a standard for Internet of things devices and providers.

Of course, I’m not the first person to think of this. Standards are already being developed for IoT. But the two biggest vendor organizations, the Open Interconnect Consortium and AllSeen Alliance, are fighting over whose standards will prevail, and you can count on more standard organizations jumping in to the fray. There's going to be a lot of arguing before the market decides which should be the standard or if there should be one at all.

Even when they finally come together, their focus is on interoperability, not on the consolidation of back-end services. Although interoperability is a noble objective, we’ll still end up with the same number of cloud services to support these devices, so we’ll continue to deal with IoT complexity.

The better effort might be to look at how we can use common data and storage models, where most devices can use the same cloud services.

Obviously, there are issues with security, governance, and privacy, and most IoT device manufactures won’t want to open up their devices and data to a common cloud platform. But once retail and commercial markets see how much of a hindrance complex cloud usage can be, they may demand that the manufacturers play from the same sheet of music. Let's hope that happens sooner than later.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.