The Last Mile: Connecting Everything to the Multitude of IoT Clouds


It's one thing to talk at a high level about connecting billions of devices over the massive Internet of Things. In reality, most devices are not IoT-ready, and prematurely implementing systems without ensuring the connected endpoints are secure, manageable, controllable and economically feasible to maintain can be the downfall of even the most inspired project. 

Even choosing the right cloud makes a big difference, and given the plethora of choices across all these domains, often the enterprises and organizations contemplating IoT and IIoT roll-outs are paralyzed, wishing to ensure they make the right choices, short and long term. 

Adding to the perceived complexity is the wave of APIs the hundreds of IoT platform providers are offering or developing – so which way should businesses go?

Should they compile multiple platforms, using multiple APIs, create a team of developers and DevOps specialists supporting those developers, work with multiple network service providers, and attempt their own systems integration in house? 

While some organizations are heading in this direction, others are looking for end-to-end solutions making it possible to "BYOA" – bring your own assets. These are assets they'd like to monitor and manage, leaving the device readiness, actual connectivity and cloud computing, storage and communications to established third-party experts. 

Cloud of Things, a company founded and headquartered in Israel, wants to simplify things. Cloud of Things has developed an integrated platform with technology elements that are designed to simplify and streamline the design, roll-out and management of IoT projects. They are bringing their expertise in software, firmware and cloud together with a common-sense look at the edge devices that turn everyday things into "smart connected things" with a bow to the term "tone" – reminding those of us with telecom backgrounds of the importance of achieving a "dial tone" when VoIP first emerged. 

But in the case of their DeviceToneTM offering, it's a "thing tone" not a "ring tone" that triggers real-time sessions connecting any edge device securely via any access or transport network type to any cloud, where the magic happens in terms of processing, analytics, actionable commands, monitoring and management. 

"There are three main components we provide," said founder and CEO David Chouraqui, who is no stranger to building disruptive cyber-security and social networking technologies before starting Cloud of Things. "It's not easy to make a lot of different vendor's technologies work together, so we set out to provide a plug-and-play client, a web-based management console with very friendly APIs, and our very unique CloudSwitchTM which connects to multiple clouds, including public, private and hybrid."

Chouraqui claims their technologies play well with others, and are particularly timely when it comes to meeting challenges at the very edge of the Internet – and not just the last mile, but the last millimeter.

Cloud of Things recently joined the Linux Foundation's EdgeX Foundry community, which is also focused on ensuring everything works efficiently and securely at the edge. "We're excited to work with such a great mix of companies," Chouraqui said, "from tech giants like Dell to start-ups like us. We're contributing the first unified IoT connected device management (CDM) solution, which is decoupled from specific IoT platforms – giving customers full flexibility without having to commit to any specific protocol, hardware or cloud vendor." 

In a world rife with IoT platforms, Cloud of Things is something of an anomaly, and their decision to become an "arms dealer" in a still highly fragmented industry promising billions in revenue upside makes them an interesting contrarian. 

"Businesses and governments and organizations don't need another IoT platform," Chouraqui said. "What they need are practical technologies that don't break the bank, that scale and offer the flexibility necessary so they can make their own choices when it comes to which connectivity provider, which cloud provider, which server and other equipment vendor, and more. We are simply making it easier to put solutions together in the real world, which is why we are getting such a great reaction from developers, systems integrators and device manufacturers." 

At the “last millimeter" after the "last mile," Cloud of Things has filed for patents for their CloudSwitchTM and remote serial programming technologies. CoT DeviceToneTM – their cross-platform, plug-and-play IoT client – is designed to work with any number of sensors, making those sensors more adaptive to the panoply of communications and processing options. 

When asked about future developments, Chouraqui noted the significance of their involvement with the EdgeX Foundry ecosystem, and continual conversations with hardware, software, network services, systems integrators and IoT solutions companies. Their primary strategy today is "to continue to listen and learn, continuing to invest in technologies that really work and will substantially contribute to the acceleration of the connected world. In this way, we are moving the discussion from hype to real business improvements, real cost savings, and real gains in society." 

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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