The global IoT market is gaining momentum. According to MarketsandMarkets forecasts, the global Internet of Things market size is expected to reach USD 561.0 billion by 2022. We can’t underestimate the Internet of Things impact on enterprise connectivity and exponential revenue growth. The Business Insider claims that by 2027, the IoT market will grow to over $2,4 trillion annually.
With that statistics in mind, you can now imagine the booming demand for IoT among businesses who are seeking IoT cloud solutions for their IoT projects. So what is an IoT cloud platform and why do you need one? We will talk about this a bit later, but first, let’s look over IoT software development challenges to understand why IoT cloud platforms actually matter.
IoT software development challenges
In order to ensure scalable, secure, and robust IoT solutions, development teams need to be scrupulous in looking for new practices and protocols.
Below is the list of some of the big technical issues IoT developers should pay attention to before creating software:
- Select the right OS. Since IoT devices have limited memory capabilities, you need to choose the proper operating system which can deliver powerful functionality and fit the capabilities of your device.
- Select the right getaway. Getaways connect devices, IoT sensors, and the cloud. Devices have different protocols. Therefore, development teams need to select the right provider (Dell, Intel, Nexcom, etc.) with modern intelligent getaways that meets your IoT app requirements.
- Take care of security issues. Since the entire IoT system connects a lot of devices, hackers are likely to find vulnerabilities that have not been tested appropriately before software development. By getting access to one device, cybercriminals manage to penetrate the whole system which leads to a critical situation in the long run.
- Plan out UX design. Without a design-driven and human-centric approach, IoT applications are likely to fail. Thus, it is of high importance to have designers and IoT developers in tight collaboration.
- Decide on the right IoT cloud platform. The IoT platforms significantly simplify developers’ work. Therefore, it is essential to select the right one which provides connectivity, security, scalability, and easy integration.
If you are planning IoT app development, you are likely to be facing the above-mentioned challenges. Another difficulty you might encounter is the lack of information on the total cost of your IoT solution.
To figure out the overall cost, you need to count the cost of all constituents of your IoT solution. The development of your solution can be broken down into 5 major layers – Hardware, Communication, Cloud Services, Software Application, and Security – and the choices you make on each layer will influence the cost. As we here in Euristiq have noticed, when it comes to IoT platforms aka cloud services and app development, the choices are vast, because one should consider other aspects such as the possibility to scale up, third-party integrations, UX/UI complexity, or inflicting changes to the scope on the go. We covered all these questions for you in our article The Cost of IoT.
Now it’s time to tell you about IoT platforms and how they can optimize all the processes and mitigate risks.
What is an IoT platform?
A middleware that manages all the interactions between users’ applications and remote devices. Generally speaking, IoT platforms perform various operations in terms of management and automation of connected devices:
- Data collection, storage, and processing
- Remote device coordination and control
- Cloud and device software deployment
- 3d party integration support
With ready-made features and reusable technology stack, IoT cloud platforms can immensely reduce the development time.
IoT platform architecture
IoT system consists of hardware (devices, sensors, beacons, etc.), connectivity protocols (in other words IoT networks) that transmit data to and from middleware (IoT cloud platform), and application(s). IoT platform acts as a mediator between the hardware and application layers. The main components, or better to say, functions of an IoT cloud platform are data storage and processing, connectivity and device management, analytics, and data visualization.
Why do you need an IoT platform?
- To validate your business idea
To make your IoT product successful, it is necessary to have a clear business idea and validate it on the market. With this purpose, building a prototype of your product and testing it with your target audience will bring significant value. Before you embark on the development stage, your initial product has to be in the hands of your target users and stakeholders. IoT cloud platform will help you get your customers’ feedback in the early stages which you can leverage into further IoT product development.
- For customizable ready-made materials
Instead of building time-consuming and expensive software, choosing some white-labeled ready-to-use IoT platforms is a great option if you want to lower your upfront costs. Also, some vendors offer nearly ready-to-use platforms that are easily customizable, and some require much more integration and customization on the part of your engineers or external consultants. So think carefully about what solution works best for you: hiring software developers for creating software from scratch or subscribing to an IoT cloud platform and doing much less job.
- For security and compliance assurance
Taking into account that risks are inherent in IoT projects, the paramount advantage of IoT cloud platforms lies in the significant reduction of technical threats and cybercriminal cases. IoT platform vendors take care of such issues as security and regulatory compliance. They are responsible for keeping software versions up-to-date, covering regulatory compliance, certifications, security documentation, and checklists.
8 best IoT cloud platforms
List of IoT cloud platforms compared at a glance:
|Key offering and its main function||Top use cases|
|Google Cloud IoT Core|
Transportation & logistics
|Amazon Web Services IoT Platform||HTTP|
|AWS IoT Core|
|Microsoft Azure IoT||MQTT|
both over WebSockets
|Azure IoT Hub|
|Oracle IoT Intelligent Applications||HTTP|
|Oracle IoT Cloud Service|
|IBM Watson IoT||HTTP|
|BM Watson IoT Platform|
|Salesforce||MQTT||Salesforce Service Cloud|
Healthcare & life sciences
Retail & consumer goods
|Cisco IoT Cloud Connect||MQTT||Cisco IoT Control Center|
eSIM as a service
Machine learning to improve security
|ThingsBoard Open-Source IoT Platform||MQTT|
|ThingsBoard Community Edition|
So your IoT project has plenty of smart devices that need to be connected and the data obtained has to be placed, stored, and processed. We mentioned earlier that in-house deployment isn’t practical and cost-effective in comparison with IoT cloud platforms that are equipped with ready-to-use features and functionality which you can find useful and suitable for your project.
There are multiple IoT cloud platforms available; we will go through the main ones, the leaders on the market. Which one to choose? It depends on your requirements and the platform’s advantages and disadvantages. Welcome to the IoT cloud platforms comparison.
1. Amazon web services IoT platform
Amazon provides an extensive package of cloud IoT services where the core advantages are proven and scalable infrastructure supporting billions of devices and trillions of messages. Users can use the Amazon IoT platform for different purposes: industrial, consumer, and commercial.
- Wide suite of IoT tools ranging from the edge to the cloud
- Multi-layered security including encryption and access control
- Exceptional AI integrations for 2x faster solutions
- An extremely scalable platform
AWS IoT Core allows secure and easy connections between devices and their interaction with cloud applications. Supporting billions of devices IoT Core can process messages and help keep track of all devices without the need to manage any infrastructure.
AWS IoT Device Management simplifies organization and monitoring a large fleet of devices securely and on a scale with the ability to troubleshoot device functionality.
AWS IoT Device Defender uses security best practices to control device authentication and authorization, ensure device identity, and encrypt its data.
With FreeRTOS operating system for microcontrollers, you can control and manage your small, low-power edge devices and connect them to other AWS cloud services or locally to other devices.
AWS IoT Greengrass helps local storage, synchronization, and management of connected devices with ML capabilities.
AWS IoT Analytics allows automatic analysis of a large amount of data from different device types for more sophisticated and accurate insights and ML use cases.
The full in-depth descriptions of all the services you can find here.
Pricing: There are no minimum fees, the billing process depends on messages sent and received. The more messages, the cheaper the plan. A free trial is available for 12 months and allows 2,250,000 minutes of connection and 500,000 messages.
2. ThingsBoard open-source IoT platform
ThingsBoard is an IoT cloud platform for device management, data collection, processing, and visualization for IoT projects.
- Reliable telemetry data collection
- Customized data visualization
- IoT Rule Engine
- Advanced device management
- Asset management
- Horizontal Scalability
- Fault Tolerance
- Customization and integration
- Alarms management
- Monolithic and microservices
- SQL, NoSQL, and Hybrid database
Furthermore, ThinkBoard offers training sessions and support packages.
Pricing: Subscription plans start at 10$ per month for up to 10 devices and 10 assets, and there are 5 plans to choose from. All these plans include unlimited customers, dashboards, integrations, API calls, data points, and messages.
3. Microsoft Azure IoT
With Microsoft Azure IoT solutions, you get a pre-customized working flow or can create the one tailored to your business needs. Microsoft Azure IoT Suite is versatile and comprises a variety of features covering every aspect of IoT design and development – from connecting devices to delivering insights to decision-makers. One of its strongest advantages is the focus on security.
Services and features:
- Azure IoT Central accelerates the creation of IoT solutions. It is a core service for the easy creation of a common IoT application with ready-to-use templates.
- Azure IoT Hub. With this service, you can collect and monitor billions of devices and establish bidirectional communication. Customers are empowered with extensive capabilities available on Azure Stack Hub to build hybrid IoT apps across datacenters.
- Azure IoT Edge. With this solution, your applications can be run locally by moving your business logic and workloads from the cloud to the edge devices. This can help time optimizing and fast reactions.
- Azure Times Series Insights offer real-time data insights with powerful visualization and contextualization. With this tool, you can explore data and detect abnormalities, analyze the performance and process efficiency of your assets, as well as integrate the tool with other advanced solutions.
- Azur Digital Twins. This service stands out among other platforms due to its capability to create virtual models of the real world to optimize operations and costs and deliver enhanced customer experiences.
- Condition monitoring for industrial IoT
- Predictive maintenance for industrial IoT
- Safe building creation
Pricing: Depending on the specifics and features, each Azure IoT service has a different pricing model. There are two tiers – basic and standard, and the price within each depends on the number of messages exchanged per day. A free tier allows up to 8,000 messages per day and up to 500 registered devices.
4. Google cloud IoT platform
Google IoT cloud platform is geared to capture real-time insights, store and analyze them at the edge and in the cloud. With ML and AI platforms you get accelerated and advanced analytics and can predict business outcomes via BigQuery multi-data cloud warehouse where data is protected with encryption by default.
Google IoT platform improves operational efficiency by supporting numerous operating systems. If your IoT assets are spread across cities, with Google Maps Platform you can get visualized real-time location data.
- A great selection of IoT building blocks to capture valuable data from your smart device
- Predictive support and performance optimization for equipment
- Real-time asset tracking with machine learning
- Logistics and supply chain management solutions
- Intelligence and automation solutions for smart cities and buildings
Pricing: per-second billing and committed-use discounts. With a cloud pricing calculator, you can see how much you can save up. The more data is stored, the cheaper it becomes. A free plan is available for the first 250 MB.
5. Oracle IoT intelligent applications
Oracle is a global software corporation recognized as a leader in database management. Moreover, Oracle has large-scale IoT ecosystems with advanced protective mechanisms that differentiate it from other players on the market.
Supporting extremely extensive databases, Oracle offers exceptional business-oriented opportunities for IoT systems across industries.
Since not all devices and gadgets have security features built-in, it is of high priority to protect the IoT frameworks from outer risks. In the age of data breaches and cybercrimes, the utilization of advanced centralized security tools is a must-do. The capabilities of Oracle IoT systems are extremely reliable which makes them exclusive.
- Smart manufacturing processes to increase revenue
- Predictive maintenance to monitor machines
- Connected logistics to optimize costs
- Workplace safety to ensure real-time visibility
- Service monitoring to deliver a predictive customer experience
- Integration capabilities with Oracle and non-Oracle apps
Pricing: Oracle price sheet is calculated per device and per month with a fixed number of messages. If the number is bigger, you will have to pay the additional costs.
6. IBM Watson IoT
IBM is a good representative of breakthrough technologies since they utilize innovative approaches toward IoT integration with artificial intelligence. With a wide range of tools and services available, IBM Watson IoT offers its customers the creation of highly efficient solutions from scratch.
- Solid remote device management and control
- Large-scale cloud storage
- Secure data transmission
- Real-time data assessment
- Rapid data visualization
- Risk and security management
Pricing: There are three main metrics on which the prices depend: exchanged data, analyzed data, and analyzed edge data. IBM Watson IoT Platform offers no free trial.
What makes this platform stand out from competitors? As Salesforce is a customer relationship management service offering enterprise solutions and cloud computing software, it accepts the client-first approach. Salesforce’s development efforts are narrowed down to an integrated system connecting IoT devices with customers.
To automatically create excellent customer service Salesforce IoT operates via:
- Possibility to import data from any source via RESTful API
- Ability to test business ideas for non-developers
- Compatible with the data from any device
- Create and manage rules without a need for a CS degree
- Real-time data about the product performance
- Possibility to create device profiles in CRM to stream data from connected gadgets
Pricing is at a fixed price of approximately $4000/month or on a quote basis. There is no free plan available.
8. Cisco IoT cloud connect
Cisco IoT Cloud has developed a modern mobility-cloud-based software solution to reinforce relations with customers and optimize networks for spreading opportunities to increase revenues.
Cisco IoT utilization can be leveraged across industries:
- Smart cities
- Create systems designed specifically for utilities (IoT service for Utility Networks)
- Get expert recommendation on the business challenges in the IoT industry from IoT Advisory
- Get full control and visibility across the network thanks to advanced cybersecurity algorithms
- Get a complete suite of device management functions
Pricing: Cisco reveals its pricing details upon request.
What about creating your own custom IoT platform?
After considering all those prices and options, a natural question comes to mind that we cannot ignore in this article – what about developing your own IoT platform and saving costs? Well, it’s not as it appears, because actually, using a third-party cloud server is cheaper than building it from scratch.
Large companies that have strong technical support in-house may opt for building their custom IoT cloud platform as in the long run this investment will prove to be more cost-effective than continuous operational expenses on out-of-the-box solutions.
But for the majority of companies looking to develop an IoT product to add it to their range of offerings, a custom IoT platform might not be the wisest decision. Bear in mind, that choosing the IoT platform vendor that offers a lot of additional components like storage, advanced analytics, device management, access to readily available partner networks, etc., might take a lot of problems from your agenda.
How to choose a cloud IoT platform?
We have made a comparative analysis of top IoT cloud platforms so that you have a variety of options to select for your IoT project. We cannot outline the best one since your choice has to meet the specific demands of your business. For instance, Amazon is the most established in the IoT field but it can be not suitable for your budget expectations. The platforms offering free tiers may be a good solution for the start since you can check out the features, weigh pros and cons, and test their functionality.
All of these above mentioned IoT cloud platforms have their unique features and benefits. To decide which solution fits the best, we recommend to explore the following set of criteria:
- Free trial. If you do not want to make significant investments in products that you are not sure about, free trials are the best options to try out.
- Pricing model. Taking into account your project’s peculiarities, you should select the most appropriate pricing model. For example, whereas Salesforce IoT cloud offers a monthly subscription with a fixed price, other platforms such as AWS IT Core use the pay-per-use model.
- IoT Development team experience. Which tech stack do developers use? What were their previous projects? What pitfalls did they face? How did they manage to cope with them, etc? Such types of questions will help you understand your potential provider better.
With the complexity of software development systems, some CEOs are not sure if the ready-to-made solutions will satisfy all their business needs. That’s why there are IoT platforms that are built on top of existing IoT cloud platforms that offer extensive support and maintenance on each development stage of the project. So if you are looking for IoT experts for your IoT development project, contact us.