The Complexity of Standards in IoT

Posted on October 4th, 2017

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Many of the parties with a voice in the standards world, including us, have discussed time and time again standards in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT). As the IoT industry grows, so do the number of standards associated with it – with new ones sprouting up all the time. It’s becoming an increasingly complex environment to work in.

To combat that complexity, there has been a crop of new initiatives designed to bring the current vendors working in IoT development. One of the more recent initiatives is called EdgeX Foundry – an effort through the Linux Foundation. While not a standards organization per se, they do open-source software that effectively defines a de facto standard, according to Philip DesAutels, the foundation’s senior director of IoT.

A recent article on the initiative explains it this way:

“The foundation’s modus operandi is to create open-source reference software that others can draw on for their own implementation. The Linux Foundation doesn’t have just one de facto not-standard for IoT, though – it has several. DesAutels carves them up by target audience: industrial IoT and consumer. These two worlds approach IoT differently, he argues.

Industrial vendors each produce a tiny cog in a machine rather than a finished package. They want their single component to talk with lots of others so that systems integrators can work with them. Integrating a combination of obscure industrial controllers may only happen once or twice, on an ad hoc basis, making an open interoperability layer a useful way of cutting integration costs.”

While the article certainly goes into more detail, the idea of open interoperability is one that we find particularly interesting and useful for the larger open standards in IoT discussion. Open standards, providing collaborative and open interoperability, would serve not only to unify the IoT universe but also help to proliferate it going forward.

The Linux Foundation isn’t the only one making efforts to push these initiatives forward. For example, Open Stand affirming partner IEEE is working on a standard for an architectural framework for the IoT, which will bring together what it sees as fragmented efforts in various verticals. It will draw on existing standards and projects, and there will be a reference architecture.

While this is certainly one of the more complex issues, it is also a very exciting time for those working in IoT standards or open standards a whole. There is a lot to do and coming to an agreement on collaborative and open standards won’t be easy. But the end result can be worth the effort.

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