AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

Trends in IoT on AWS, and a Look Back at IoT re:Invent 2016 Announcements

This is a guest post from Tim Mattison. Tim is a Partner SA at AWS who focuses on the IoT segment. 

In a broad sense, IoT is the convergence of embedded systems, communications technology, and cloud. As processing, communication technology and storage costs continue to drop, we find the industry is realizing the value of data previously locked away inside closed, on-premises systems or from legacy systems previously unconnected. The IoT ecosystem can be thought of as the combination of all components enabling customers to remotely manage connected devices, acquire and analyze the data, act intelligently on the data, and adjust the system as required to provide ongoing process improvements. As we jump into 2017, I want to take a moment to recap some of the key trends we saw emerge in IoT on AWS in 2016, and discuss some of the recent announcements we made pertaining to IoT on AWS.

IoT on AWS and Trends in the AWS IoT Partner Ecosytem

At re:Invent we announced the AWS IoT Competency. The AWS IoT Competency consists of five elements that we see as the building blocks of IoT. Edge technology partners build the base layer that defines where and how IoT data is collected. Gateway technology partners aggregate and process edge device data to be delivered to the cloud. Connectivity partners provide mobile data coverage, and device and subscription management to simplify the deployment and management of fleets of edge devices and gateways. Platform technology partners acquire data, analyze and act on it, and adjust the behavior of the system over time. Consulting partners weave all of these elements into systems with specific business value for their customers. The APN Partners that have achieved the AWS IoT Competency have helped us identify several trends in IoT on AWS:

Platform Technology Partners continue to see a steady increase in the types of data, sources of data, and volumes of data ingested every month. Some of this data is stored in data lakes where information can be shared across an organization. This gives teams the freedom to innovate and find new ways to turn vast amounts of data into value for their customers. Some of this data is fed into systems that utilize machine learning that provides focused, actionable data (e.g. predictive maintenance). The industry has only begun to understand what can be done with the vast amount of data ingested and stored in the cloud.

Edge Technology Partners have seen a shift from a large number of proprietary data formats to more open formats such as JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), Amazon Ion, and protocol buffers. Also, companies are moving from long product cycles where functionality is locked in at manufacture time to shorter product cycles where devices are continually updated over-the-air (OTA), increasing the device’s capabilities and value over time. Look no further than Tesla as an example of this, where pushing a software update to the vehicle enables new features for the owner. This highlights how embedded product development is evolving in similar style to the application space, incorporating devops practices to enable rapid innovation and iteration. However, this continual delivery path to the device requires high quality out-of-the-box connectivity.

Gateway Technology Partners have shown us that we are in the midst of a new era of communications technology. There is an increasing number of mature and nascent connectivity choices embedded engineers and application developers can evaluate when developing products and systems for IoT use cases. In the cellular band we see a rapid evolution of low cost options for device connectivity such as Narrow Band Long Term Evolution (NB-LTE) and LTE-M. The Low Power Wide-Area Network (LP-WAN) technologies such as Sigfox and LoRa are maturing at a rapid pace. We are seeing these technologies applied in new classes of devices that can operate on battery power for several years.

Connectivity Technology Partners are innovating in the device and subscription management space in direct response to the increasing number of devices leveraging these next generation connectivity solutions. These systems are designed for fleets of devices at a global scale, providing private networks enabling a secure and direct connectivity channel to the cloud. These platforms often provide tight integration with the connectivity infrastructure to offer secure device provisioning and world-wide connectivity. In addition, there is also a trend toward using new Low-Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) technology to create devices that can run on battery power for years and be deployed in locations that were not possible just a few years ago. This is pushing the power of the cloud out even further and propelling the IoT flywheel.

Finally, our Consulting Partners carry the expertise in fusing these solutions together, staying on top of and ahead of the curve, and building solutions that provide greater value than simply the sum of their parts.  They have shown us that there is a clear benefit to IoT partners interoperating to facilitate building the systems their customers need.

AWS has continued to innovate within the IoT space as well. Over the course of the year, our core IoT service, AWS IoT, released several new features driven by customer requirements. Bring-Your-Own-Certificate (BYOC) provides customers greater flexibility in maintaining and managing the chain of trust for the device certificates. Just-In-Time-Registration (JITR) enables customers to customize how new devices are authenticated in the cloud. Websockets and Android SDK support allow developers to build mobile experiences that tie directly into their IoT systems. AWS Elasticsearch integration simplifies visualizing data, creating dashboards, and gaining actionable intelligence with Kibana. Authorization policy updates further enhance the customer’s ability to create fine grained security policies for a single device or a global device fleet.

Greengrass – re:Invent 2016

At re:Invent, AWS announced Greengrass. Greengrass, now in preview, is software that allows customers to accelerate their development of cloud connected sensors, edge devices, and gateways by integrating directly with AWS. Greengrass provides a foundation for on-premises functionality required for many kinds of IoT workloads. With AWS Greengrass, connected devices can run AWS Lambda functions, keep device data in sync, and communicate with other devices securely – even when not connected to the Internet. The AWS Greengrass Core provides support for AWS Lambda and AWS IoT Device Shadows, local messaging, and secure communication.

For our gateway partners, Greengrass allows them to focus on their mission of providing data aggregation, device management, security, and other value added services instead of undifferentiated edge device connectivity. As more devices become Greengrass aware, gateway partners will grow their base of supported edge devices as well as the customer base that their solutions can address. As additional Greengrass features are developed again the value of these systems increase.

For our edge partners, making their devices Greengrass-aware allows them to focus on their mission of providing sensors and edge devices that enable business transformation. Connecting to a Greengrass-enabled gateway means that the same product can be used in on-premises, hybrid, or cloud solutions alleviating the need to develop up to three distinct products. Leveraging the AWS IoT Device SDK with Greengrass functionality means all of the higher level services like AWS IoT Device Shadows are available from the gateway whether the gateway is online or offline.

Whether the workload is latency or bandwidth sensitive, or if availability of connectivity is not guaranteed, Greengrass provides a way to develop using services customers are familiar with and shift intelligence to the edge when it is needed.

Learn More About IoT on AWS

Interested in learning more? Go to AWS IoT, read the documentation and white papers in our developer resources.

Want to dive in immediately? Head over to Getting Started with AWS IoT where you can get up and running in a few minutes, buy an AWS IoT button, or purchase a developer kit.

Do you want to keep on top of what’s new? Go to The Internet of Things on AWS blog, check out our webinars.

Do you have an IoT project that you want to build and are looking for a consulting or technology partner? Use the AWS Partner Solutions Finder to find our full list of AWS IoT partners.

Hear from two of our AWS IoT Competency Partners, C3 IoT and MachineShop, as they discuss why their customers are moving to AWS, and how customers take advantage of their software on AWS:

C3 IoT