Nowadays’ life would be impossible without the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Most people do not even realize what IoT is and how it affects their daily routine. However, the reality is that IoT is everywhere, in our houses, offices, cars, etc. Every day we use machines to operate other machines. These gadgets are becoming smarter, faster, and much more efficient. With the use of IoT, businesses can satisfy the continually growing demand of consumers from various sectors. That’s why IoT platforms became an integral part of many business models.
Officially, the IoT platforms list includes 620 IoT companies. Some offer a wide spectrum of services for different industries, while others specialize in serving a specific niche. Consequently, there is no universally the best IoT platform. In this article, we suggest grouping them into three clusters: IoT infrastructure solutions, platforms for IoT applications, and open-source IoT platforms.
IoT Infrastructure Solutions
This type of IoT platforms comes from the “giants”, like Google or Amazon. They provide an impressive list of services for collecting and working with your data. The biggest advantage of such solutions is the possibility of using machine learning services that are naturally a strong advantage of vendors that work with data. On the other hand, these platforms are sophisticated, require deep knowledge, and in most cases software skills to use them.
With a multi-layered secure infrastructure, Google Cloud IoT provides machine learning solutions for any IoT need and any business of any size. This IoT platform can measure business operations in real-time, analyze them, and effectively identify issues and offer a plan of action before these issues become problems. Google Cloud services can capture and process massive volumes of data, regardless of whether it is streaming online or stores off-line in the businesses’ logs.
As Google Cloud, AWS can process a massive amount of data. Amazon IoT platform offers edge-based software that allows securely connecting their assets, gathering data, and taking intelligent actions locally, even without being not connected to the Internet. Besides, the AWS cloud-based services provide the customers with a quick on-boarding of their large and diverse fleets of devices, maintaining fleet health, and keeping their fleets secure. All Amazon IoT services are serverless, meaning that the AWS clouds are elastic and scalable.
Microsoft Azure has a number of the IoT solutions, including Azure IoT Central, Azure IoT Edge, Azure IoT Hub, Azure Time Series Insights, etc. With the help of these services, the customers can not only improve productivity and reduce waste and costs but also create customized IoT solutions for any industry. This IoT platform provides numerous free guides on how to use standard Azure IoT solutions, as well as build IoT applications on your own.
These are just some examples. Of course, there are other IoT platforms from the “giants” – IBM Watson IoT platform, Oracle IoT, Cisco IoT Cloud Connect, SAP Cloud Platform, ThingWorx IoT Platform, Salesforce Cloud IoT Platform, and other.
Platforms for IoT applications
There are IoT platforms that provide more business-oriented, flexible, and easy to use service for entrepreneurs and companies that create their own IoT applications. Usually, they have a new IoT device designed and need a solution to transform it into a complete business application. Therefore, such SaaS-based IoT platforms are a good choice for IoT hardware startups, niche IoT products, or data-driven applications
In most cases, the cost of using the service of the IoT platforms depends on the volume of data processed, and most of them provide free-of-charge options. These types of IoT platforms have a huge advantage: a steep learning curve. They are designed in a way that you do not need specific software skills or special knowledge on how to use them, just connect your devices and configure the platform to get a complete IoT application. Below are some examples of such IoT platforms.
With the Ubidots platform, you can rapidly launch your IoT application without having to write code. It provides more than 200 libraries and SDKs to integrate over many protocols. It is powered by time-series infrastructure and has such features as analytics and events engine, dashboards, reports, white-labeling, and more. All subscription plans are not free, start from $49/month up to $1799/month. However, they have the Ubidots STEM, a free product that can be used for educational or personal purposes.
thethings position themselves as the most simple and hardware agnostic IoT Platform that will help you to accelerate your IoT project. The platform supports many protocols, provides dashboards, white-labeling, IoT data encryption (TLS), cloud code, alerts, integrations, and more. Also, they have a marketplace for your algorithms, hardware, or service. The subscription plans start from $99/month to $1999/month with a free trial period.
SensorOcean is a new (started in 2020) IoT platform that transforms your IoT device to an application with data visualization, monitoring, dashboards, workflow with ruleset and script engine, map with geo-location features, teams, and more. The integration with third-party apps is done via webhooks. The platform is driven by time-series databases and provides a secured API.
They are compliant with MySensors approach and protocols for the edge layer, so you can create networks of sensors and devices connected via radio channels. Though, they are working on making the platform hardware-agnostic by adding more hardware and protocols support.
Devices connect the platform’s controller via an MQTT gateway. It is noteworthy that for custom solutions the SensorOcean controller can be moved from cloud to the edge, in the same network with the sensors, for example to a Raspberry Pi board.
As for the pricing, it starts from a free package for up to 250,000 records a month, $39 for up to a million records a month, $99 for up to 3 million records a month, $299 for up to 10 million records a month, and custom solutions for larger volumes.
Blynk is a hardware-agnostic IoT platform that connects your devices to the cloud and provides apps to manage them. It has a set of pre-made modules and features, allows fast prototyping, and testing assumptions to reduce the costs and minimize the time to market. They provide white-label mobile apps, which is a big advantage, as well as a cloud server and data storage, management features, data analytics, and more. They have the following subscription plans: startup for $166/month, business for $1000/month, and enterprise (custom). Also, there is a free plan that can’t be used for commercial purposes.
Open-source IoT Platforms
OpenSource IoT platforms are a great option for IoT makers, DIY projects, and startups. The open code of such IoT enables small companies to use it and adjust to the needs of their business. The DIY IoT platforms are popular as they help to create your own IoT solutions without using third-party software services from online IoT platforms. On the other hand, that requires software skills and knowledge to install, configure, and program the open-source product. Here are some examples of the open-source IoT platforms.
OnepHAB is a DIY smart home hub that connects a wide range of devices of different manufacturers and protocols. This is the greatest advantage of this product. Another big plus is the fact that is can run on many platforms: Linux, macOS, Windows, Raspberry Pi, PINE64, Docker. Also, it can be installed locally or be used via cloud services as well.
Home Assistant tracks the state of the devices in your home via a single, mobile-friendly web interface. All the data is stored locally, so no need in storing any of your data in the cloud. Also, you can configure advanced rules to control your devices, for example, turn on lights at sunset and you are home or receive an email with an alert. It is one of the most flexible platforms from the developer side.
The Bottom Line
In the modern market, there are numerous IoT platforms to choose from. Still, it cannot be easy at all to find the best IoT platform for a particular business. The list of the IoT platforms is not limited to those mentioned above. Each platform has its unique set of features that determine the use cases. That’s why businesses should consider many factors before choosing the platform to succeed.