• Elisabeth Nebster

Towards a seamless integration of IoT devices with IoT platforms using a low-code approach


Secrets of Robust IoT Ecosystem Integrations


Smartphones, smart homes, smart factories, and smart cities. Let me guess: IoT is everywhere? Yes, and we don't stop expanding its opportunities.


It's predicted that the number of connected devices worldwide will grow up to 30.9 billion units by 2025. Seamless integration of the newborn IoT devices could be done with IoT platforms using a low-code approach. Why integration is a vital part of any IoT infrastructure and what to consider while embedding device management into existing IT ecosystem?


IoT Integrations: Intro


What do you think integrations are? Catch the hint. Speaking about the Internet of Things, they're strong links between all sensors, devices, and software. They ensure wireless communication between related components and permanent data flow.


A few years ago, within a speech for TED × Toronto, Rodolphe El-Khoury, Dean at University of Miami School of Architecture, shared the following thoughts:


"It's the Internet of Things growing as we speak. It will keep architects busy for decades."

It's a holy truth. IoT gives architects lots of challenges just because of its nature. Here we don't create a virtual environment. We try to interact with a real one using digital resources.


In addition, the IoT infrastructure should become a convenient home for any device and software, regardless of its origin. It is the main issue in IoT architecture creation.


Let's look at a couple of examples.


Example # 1.

Transvoyant company processes data on over 1 billion events every day, collecting information from various IoT devices. It could be a smartwatch or even a space satellite. They try hard to create predictive analytics for supply chain companies like J&J or Nestlé. This way, the company analyzes the risks, the level of transport safety, etc. The client sees only this uncomplicated facade, seasoned with an impressive figure. But under the hood, this massive infrastructure has hundreds of thousands of scenarios, millions of connected devices & software systems, and huge data storage.


Example # 2.

The local device manufacturer decided to go beyond the competition and perform IoT-based laptops customization remotely. Such an approach would increase customer loyalty, reduce traveling costs and the number of staff mistakes.

To achieve these goals, the company needs to take care of:

  • robust connection between back-office systems and devices

  • monitoring the current state of devices,

  • automatic software installation according to tariff plans,

  • security of data transmission & limited access to laptops, etc.



As seen here, a local project doesn't mean the easy one. Creating a multifunctional and highly integrated IoT platform is a challenge in any case.


What Infrastructure Components Obey To IoT Integrations


Let's try to take the IoT infrastructure apart. Among other things, we can highlight:

Hardware.


These are devices, elevators, equipment, motion & light sensors, etc. Often, the difficulty in creating an IoT infrastructure is the inability of engineers to connect completely different devices and ensure their seamless integration. In such a case, companies use an open-source low code platform, which facilitates IoT integration development.


Are you looking for a suitable instrument for rapid IoT infrastructure development? Here you will discover how the XME.fast code platform might help you out.



Connection.


Engineers choose technology for communication based on the IoT platform's purpose. If you need the infrastructure for managing a hotel or office, RFID/NFC is worth attention. If there is a need for convenient control of smart house devices, you should choose Wi-Fi.


You also need to take care of communication between devices and cloud software. Developers use protocols such as MQTT, XMPP, LoRaWAN, AMQP to ensure it.


The interaction between devices and lead software largely depends on the type of device. If the latter contains a microcontroller, like STM32F or Arduino Uno, it can transfer information to cloud software directly.


If the device has limited functionality, IoT gateways, such as Azure IoT Gateway, come to the rescue.


Cloud software.


These are the databases, systems, and apps that control devices and process incoming information.

An IoT infrastructure usually covers practically all back-office systems.


For example, Walmart implemented an IoT platform to provide buyers with fresh groceries.

To achieve it, engineers have integrated the digital product with:

  • hardware (fridges, light, temperature and humidity sensors, etc.): to support food storage requirements

  • warehouse and assortment management systems: to track the spoiled goods and the profitability of their availability in stock

  • ERP: for reporting and maintaining related documentation

  • loyalty system: to create urgent discounts and upsales

  • CRM: for analyzing customer behavior

  • HR systems: to form shifts and tasks for staff concerning environmental conditions support

  • analytics: to generate stats about IoT system's operation and its impact on other related software's productivity



Interface.


Even the most robust IoT platform in the world will be inefficient without a user-friendly interface. Your client and your employee should be equally convenient working with the system. Therefore, companies prefer to use minimalistic design and a one-stop-shop interface.


To make the system work, you should integrate all these components with the cloud software and provide uninterrupted data transmission.


Why IoT Integrations Matter


Integrations are the core strength of any IoT infrastructure. The approach to their building affects the entire IoT system's operational, like:

  • the relevance of received information and the speed of its movement

  • frequency of device failures

  • scenarios of employee behavior in case of non-standard tasks solving

  • ease of management

  • time for operation

  • the ability to expand new revenue streams, etc.


Thus, an IoT infrastructure can significantly support your business or destroy it. It all depends on how you will develop integration points.


I don't want to upset standardized approach lovers, but with IoT architecture creation, everything is too individual.

It is a field for creativity. Although architects always use the basic principles:

  • avoid direct integrations using middleware

  • trying to support devices with limited functionality with powerful software

  • prefer to create a microservice-based product for its scalability

  • build infrastructure in such a way as to ensure data security

  • trying to create an easy-to-use product

  • create integration points based on the customer needs and current business conditions

  • considering the possibility of unforeseen breakdowns of devices and develop scenarios for response


Are you thinking of IoT implementation? Contact us to get tips from our specialist on how to approach integration in your case.









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