You might be a developer, a startup co-founder, or a business manager, and wondering how you can benefit from coming revolution of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT).
At the moment, the internet is run mainly by humans. The majority of communication, messages, and data is happening between people, through desktops, laptops, and smartphones. This is changing. A whole new category of devices is starting to take over the internet. These devices aren’t run by people and don’t send messages to people either. They are machines that talk to other machines, and they’ve been given the simple name ‘Things’.
Some examples of ‘Things’ include
- Temperature sensors,
- Traffic sensors
- Flow rate sensors
- Energy usage monitors
And there are more. Samsung recently stated that by 2020, 100% of its products would be Internet enabled. That even includes things like washing machines!
This graph shows how the number of devices has already overtaken the human population and will continue to soar. So how do we deal with this many new devices?
As these devices start to become connected, we need a place to send, store, and process all of the information. Setting up your own in-house system isn’t practical anymore. The cost of maintaining, upgrading and securing a system is just too high, and there are some great services available.
There are already plenty of cloud services available for your personal information. any of these companies are trying to position themselves as leaders in the Internet of Things revolution. Over the next 5-10 years, we will witness a bloody battle for market share.
So which is the best internet of things cloud platform? As with every IT system or service, each solution has its advantages and disadvantages. Here is a comparison of the major players, to get an idea of what is on offer at the moment.
Here’s a list of 10 of the best platforms available today.
1. Amazon Web Services IoT Platform
Amazon dominates the consumer cloud market. They were the first to really turn cloud computing into a commodity way back in 2004. Since then they’ve put a lot effort into innovation and building features, and probably have the most comprehensive set of tools available.
It’s an extremely scalable platform, claiming to be able to support billions of devices, and trillions of interaction between them.
Pricing is based on messages sent and received by AWS IoT. Each IoT interaction can be thought of as a message between a device and a server. Amazon charges per million messages sent or received. There are no minimum fees, and you won’t get charged for messages to the following AWS services:
- Amazon S3
- Amazon DynamoDB
- AWS Lambda
- Amazon Kinesis
- Amazon SNS
- Amazon SQS
They also have a software development kit (SDK) to help developer build applications to run on AWS.
While Amazon probably has the most comprehensive service of all the cloud providers, it can also be quite expensive.
2. Microsoft Azure IoT Hub
Microsoft is taking their Internet of Things cloud services very seriously. They have cloud storage, machine learning, and IoT services, and have even developed their own operating system for IoT devices. This means they intend to provide a complete IoT solution provider.
The pricing is done in 4 tiers based on how much data your devices will generate. Below 8,000 messages per unit per day is free. It does get complicated when you start to integrate with other Microsoft services, but they have a great pricing calculator to help you out.
Like Amazon, Google, Oracle and IBM, Microsoft also has some other cool services you can use on their could platform. These include things like machine learning a data analytics so you can build some really cool applications. check out our article here for more info.
3. IBM Watson IoT Platform
IBM is another IT giant trying to set itself up as an Internet of Things platform authority. They try to make their cloud services as accessible as possible to beginners with easy apps and interfaces. You can try out their sample apps to get a feel for how it all works. You can also store your data for a specified period, to get historical information from your connected devices.
Pricing works on three main metrics:
- Data Exchanged
- Data Analyzed
- Edge Data Analyzed
You’ll get 100 MB of each for free every month, so you can try it out.
IBM Watson also offers some cool security possibilities based on machine learning and data science. I wrote about some of them here.
4. Google Cloud Platform
Search giant Google is also taking the Internet of Things very seriously. They claim that “Cloud Platform is the best place to build IoT initiatives, taking advantage of Google’s heritage of web-scale processing, analytics, and machine intelligence”.
Their focus is on making things easy and fast for your business, where instant information is expected. And, offer “Google grade” security. Using this platform also lets you take advantage of Google’s private global fiber network.
Pricing on Google Cloud is done on a per-minute basis. It is usually cheaper than Amazon Web Services and even has a price comparison tool to show you how much you’ll save. But doesn’t have same extensive tools and documentation.
Like Microsoft, Google also has its own IoT operating system (based on Android).
Oracle is a platform as a service provider that seems to be focusing on manufacturing and logistics operations. They want to help you get your products to market faster.
Pricing for Oracle is calculated per device. There is a set number of messages per device, per month, with an additional cost if you go over this number.
Salesforce specializes in customer relations management. Their cloud platform is powered by Thunder, which is focused on high speed, real-time decision making in the cloud. The idea is to create more meaningful customer interactions. Their easy point-and-click UI is designed to connect you with your customers.
Pricing is at either a set price of about $4000 per month or on a quote basis.
Bosch is a German based company IT company, who have recently launched their own cloud IoT services to compete with the likes of Amazon. They focus on security and efficiency. Their IoT platform is flexible and based on open standards and open source.
The CEO Volkmar Denner says “As of today, we offer all the ace cards for the connected world from a single source. The Bosch IoT Cloud is the final piece of the puzzle that completes our software expertise. We are now a full-service provider for connectivity and the internet of things”.
Pricing is done progressively, so the more you use, the more you pay.
8. Cisco IoT Cloud Connect
Cisco is a global leader in IT services, helping companies “seize the opportunities of tomorrow”. They strongly believe that the opportunities of tomorrow lie in the cloud, and have developed a new ‘mobility-cloud-based software suite’.
Their goal is to strengthen your relationship with your customers. What’s more, they actually say their focus is to help you “find new ways to make money”. With all the jargon surrounding cloud computing, it’s nice to hear a company speaking in plain English.
9. General Electrics Predix
General Electric have decided to get into the platform-as-a-service game. They are focused on the industrial market by offering connectivity and analytics at scale for mainstream sectors like aviation.
Pricing is done on a pay-as-you-go basis. They don’t have simple pricing tables like the larger companies.
They also have a cool interactive demo you can try out.
The SAP homepage reads like a buzzword dictionary for the last couple of years. Here the title of a press release: “SAP Cloud Platform extends its capabilities for IoT, Big Data, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence”.
If you can translate sentences like that, it basically means they are offering the latest tech to earn your business more money!
Pricing is easy to understand, with 3 tiers for
- Medium Business
Which One Should You Go With?
This is a tough question. There is no best IoT cloud platform, and ultimately it will depend on the specific needs of your business. At the moment Amazon is the most established in this field but could be expensive.
If you just want to test out some ideas, go with a provider that offers a free tier. You’ll be able to get a feel for how it works, the pros and cons, and what features you might need in the future.
If you still aren’t sure, contact a development team that has experience in building the type of systems you need. They will know the ins-and-outs of every platform, and will easily be able to recommend the perfect IoT cloud platform to take your business to the next level.