Within the IT industry, we all have a pretty good understanding of what the IoT is and why it’s such an important concept. But for many—me included—the “IoT” is more of an abstraction than a moniker for a detailed list of IoT componentry. With that in mind, I recently came across a Forrester report that broke the IoT, or, rather, IoT platforms, down into five categories of technologies. I’m including a synopsis here because AgilePoint NX happens to fall neatly into one of the five categories. (See The Forrester Wave™: IoT Software Platforms, Q4 2016, Michele Pelino and Andrew Hewitt.)
The report, of course, points to leaders in the space—huge players that include IBM, GE, and Microsoft and which have solid offerings in all five categories. Other major brands, such as SAP, Amazon Web Services, and Cisco lag behind a bit, and several others fall into niche categories, offering some categories of functionality but not all or offering all categories but having distinct weaknesses in one or more. However, none of the leaders may have the type of IoT application development capability that AgilePoint brings to the table, which makes AgilePoint NX a legitimate extension to any of the platforms in the report.
Forrester’s Five Categories
Forrester’s five categories are as follows:
- Connection—Technologies that manage the link from devices to the Internet. The analysts point to two classes of connectivity technologies—short and long-range, which include specialized radio technologies designed to work over existing WiFi and Bluetooth networks and IoT software platforms that have the capability to manage “multiple carrier relationships and enable over-the-air device management.” Some of these technologies support specialized network protocols and may support specialized application and messaging protocols that are more efficient than HTTP.
- Security—Technologies that protect IoT devices, data, and identity from intrusion. The IoT creates a diversity of potential security attacks. Devices generate proprietary data and information about companies and their customers and transmit that data via specialized protocols over the Internet. Exacerbating the problem is the vulnerability of the devices themselves, which can be hacked for information. Given the nature of IoT-connected devices, such hacks could go beyond data leaks, potentially placing expensive equipment at risk and even endangering lives. The analysts point out that IoT software platforms incorporate a variety of security components to ensure that breaches and intrusions can be avoided.
- Management: controlling of the provisioning, maintenance, and operation of IoT devices. IoT scenarios often involve many thousands of connected devices to monitor and measure state information, such as pressure, temperature, or vibration. Elite IoT platforms enable IT personnel to more easily configure, provision, and initiate the operation of connected devices, applications, and products, and facilitate the monitoring, testing, updating of software, and the troubleshooting of connected devices.
- Analysis: transformation of data into actionable insight. Thousands of sensors pushing data to processing hubs can yield enormous amounts of unstructured, unusable data. Leading edge IoT platforms, such as IBM’s Watson IoT platform and SAP enable analysts to visualize all of that data and even help analysts interpret the data to find actionable insights.
- Application Development: create apps and integrate systems. The diversity of IoT use cases requires software integration and APIs that support business processes and applications. Many IoT platforms allow developers to more easily create apps that are integrated with specific IoT connectivity, security, and manageability capabilities. IoT platforms often have development and API tools as well as connectors and adaptors that facilitate integration of enterprise applications.
AgilePoint NX as a Platform Extension
AgilePoint NX provides much of the same functionality that IoT platforms have regarding application development and integration; however, AgilePoint NX is a low-code platform, enabling the development of IoT apps up to ten times faster than the more traditional coding methodologies supported by IoT platforms.
Furthermore, AgilePoint NX application models are built on a responsive architecture, which is ideally suited for the rigors of IoT computing. AgilePoint NX utilizes a true model-driven approach coupled with real-time metadata abstraction into code that is interpreted at runtime. This design characteristic enables data from thousands of sensors to be rendered down into actionable data points by an IoT platform, fed into an AgilePoint application model at run time, and the application will reconfigure itself on the fly as ecosystem dynamics fluctuate.