February 11, 2016

The IoT Developer's Tools Hot List

This is probably going to be the most controversial list we have published to date, since so many strategies out there are associated with specific carriers, devices, distributors, and open source communities. There are more than 11 million professional developers and 7 million hobbyists in the world; for many companies the goal is to reach the entire community. This means that tools keep being developed that are part of existing frameworks. Dedicated IoT developers probably represent less than 5 percent of the developer community not counting the maker movement and the folks that are inadvertently touching the space with incidental systems from the web and embedded computing. The reality is that as IoT becomes main stream all developers are probably going to be supporting IoT implementations. The point of this Hot List is to point out interesting resources and not to declare this list to be comprehensive.

Let’s start with a general overview.
Design and development can take advantage of prototyping with relatively cheap development boards. That can be used for proof of concept or to engage a community of developers. Boards such as Arduino (, Beagleboards (, Galileo (, Edison (, and Raspberry Pi ( controllers are well known open source hardware environments.

Some offerings, like Gemalto’s Concept board ( nib and NimbeLink’s Skywire (, are designed to supplement these popular open source hardware devices, while in other companies like Arrow’s Dragonboard ( and Bug Labs ( provide open source hardware to other communities like Linux and the web. Once the concepts are proven there are two issues of ubiquity (coverage) and scale that have gathered communities around the carriers and cloud services.

Most carriers have developer resources available. While AT&T has a large community around its M2X development site (, Verizon Wireless has recently launched Thingspace ( and has incorporated developer communities from companies such as Nimbelink and Bug Labs. When needing to extend beyond their footprints, carriers have relationships to extend their networks with other carriers, but general provisioning often ends up showing the value of MVNOs. Another approach is to focus on the scale and tightly integrate with cloud services. While the term platform often gets thrown around loosely, in some cases the platform is an aggregation solution for cloud services.

Open Source IoT Strategies
Eclipse is probably one of the most contributed to organizations in the open source community. The Eclipse IoT community has 24 projects including Eurotech, and IBM donated code for MQTT that has established a community around the protocol. One particular project, Kura, is aimed at being a container for IoT applications in gateway devices. It is written as a Java/OSGIbased container and delivers a common services core for most M2M applications with a configurable API. Eclipse also supports a SCADA implementation and several projects enabling information sharing and interoperability. Companies like Digi (www.digi. com), support developers using Eclipse and focus on enabling applications with Android.

Gemalto’s Cinterion Concept Board is an open standards interface that allows developers to leverage Cinterion, Java, and SensorLogic Application enablement platform. Its userfriendly interface enables professionals and tinkerers to use Arduino and other open source hardware and interface to 2G and 3G modem solutions.

Kaa is licensed under Apache 2.0 including the server and client components. Lead by CyberVision (, Kaa is 100 percent free to use for both open source and proprietary software solutions. Kaa enables data management for connected objects and back end infrastructure with its SDK. The Kaa server “has well-established interfaces for integration with data management and analytic systems.”

Node-RED is supported by IBM and is an implementation on top of node.js that enables connecting hardware devices like Raspberry Pi to online web services. Its browserbased flow editor allows users to create JavaScript functions that can deploy in run-time with a single click. The flows created in Node-RED are stored using JSON which can easily be imported and exported for sharing with others.

ARM mbed
ARM mbed is a modular system that includes an operating system created for mbed-enabled boards. It allows C++ applications to run on mbed-enabled boards using APIs. The mbed system is designed to work behind the scenes to automatically optimize the resources of the network and hardware. The modular framework enables you to only compile the code you need and is event-driven with a single thread so it can work on small devices. Although ARM mbed comes from the cellular industry, it supports Bluetooth, 6LoWPAN, and Ethernet, with the expectation to include Wi-Fi in the near term.

Bug Labs
Bug Labs has a history of making modular Lego-like open source hardware. These days the emphasis is on the software and Freeboard. Dweet. io is a simple messaging solution, while Freeboard is a dashboard that provides visualization of the devices and the data they can provide. Freeboard can connect HTTP, JSON, or a dweet-connected device to the tool and allows users to view real-time data in seconds.

Carrier and IoT Cloud Services
Aeris AerCloud is a cloud platform for collecting, managing, and analyzing sensor data. At the core of the cloud platform is a “highly scalable time-series database” with a rules engine designed to deliver services from prototyping to full-scale deployment. Included in the system is a secure datasharing interface for applications to interface with sensors and thirdparty systems.

Amazon Web Services IOT
Amazon Web Services IoT consists of security and identity management, device gateway, message brokering (using MQTT), Lambda functions, and shadow processing services. AWS cloud provides bi-directional communication that enables users to connect, store, and analyze data and to build applications that can be accessed by the user’s phone, tablet, or the web. [Note: Arrow Electronics DragonBoard has extensive documentation on how to implement with IoT].

AT&T M2X is a cloud-based data storage and management toolset designed to gather information in real time. The system is part of an overall suite that includes reference designs via Flow (, Connected Car references with ATT DriveStudio ( and Connection Kit (, as well as reference developer language support with Heroku (

Devicify is a cloud-based platform that looks to change the model of IoT development by better integrating operational requirements with business intelligence needs. The Connected Products Management suite is like CDNs and other cloud models that support any-to-any delivery capability with tight integration to the business processes. The concepts include bill of functionality and return on connectivity aimed at making IoT deployments iterative and capable to support Google Cloud Platform ( It also supports the use of tools such as BigQuery, Cassandra, Cloud Pub/Sub, and Firebase. It has partnered with and supports (, Telit devices (, Smart Technologies (, as well as Arduino.

Mesh Systems
Mesh Systems Meshvista is a cloud platform designed for OEMs that is component based, enabling tight integration to enterprise implementations supporting their market opportunities. The system works independent of connectivity architectures and supports singlenode or multi-node implementations. It includes agent software for embedded systems and connectivity tools for both edge- and cloud-based requirements.

Nimbelink’s Skywire modem kits allow direct modem connections to circuit boards from Renasas, TI, STMicro, Freescale, and others.

Telit’s deviceWISE IoT platform can be offered as a licensed service by MNOs, enterprises, and systems integrators. The deviceWISE platform centers on a single, easy-to-use portal with comprehensive management and configuration capabilities for all your devices and data transfers – from entry-level solutions to full-scale enterprisegrade deployments. It includes builtin enterprise gateway technology for integration with enterprise systems from IBM, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Any SQL, Web services, etc. The platform goes beyond Telit’s components to support virtually anything using a variety of APIs and software agents with built-in drivers. The platform can connect, collect, and control using a variety of cloud and wireless technologies including cellular and purpose-built networks (such as LoRa, SigFox, and Actility).

Thingworx is a suite of platform tools designed to support end-to-end application modeling with Thingworx Composer, bundling business logic, collaboration, data storage, security, and visualization. The Mash up Builder allows drag-and-drop development. Thingworx Management utilities facilitates remote diagnostics and control including configuration and software updates.

Salesforce IoT Thunder is an eventprocessing engine designed to ingest and orchestrate events from the connected world in real time. Thunder’s integration to Salesforce unlocks insights that enable proactive, predictive, and preventive customer service.

Verizon Thingspace is relatively new, but includes APIs for connectivity and device management as well as many reference developer kits that feature tools that support service provisioning, monitoring, control, identity, security, and configuration management.

There is no shortage of tools.
The most valuable resource we have is time, and while each one of these referenced systems have merit, they also represent either a familiar starting point or a new challenge. The purpose of pointing out these tools is to help developers and managers gain some insight into what is possible. It’s my hope that this Hot List guides you over any obstacles you currently face.

Carl Ford is CEO and community developer of Crossfire Media (

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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