New devices are entering the market at a rapid pace. Just last week, Google Home launched to compete with Amazon Echo in the smart home department. This explosion of new devices doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, either.
And IoT isn’t just about consumer devices. Nor is it a completely new idea. Early in my career I worked with a full range of industrial sensors. And medical devices have been around for a long time. But they were not connected using standard protocols that allow for unified management, analytics and security as we are seeing today. It’s now starting to take hold in enterprises, smart cities, transportation, and others as well. As enterprises transform into digital businesses, the need to find ways to improve efficiencies, generate new forms of revenue and deliver new and exciting customer experiences will be the tipping point for enterprise IoT to really take off.
It’s not going to be an easy journey, though – especially for developers. Not only do these new devices need to talk to each other, but in order to have a purpose, they need applications, and those applications take time to build and manage. In fact, manageability is a key issue and developers are faced with integration challenges on an hourly basis. Specifically, for organizations that want to deploy IoT apps across multiple gateway vendors and those that wish to buy solutions that are not locked into a single silo, IoT can be the bane of one’s existence.
This pressure on IoT developers has made companies like VMware work hard to figure out just how to make their lives easier. Today, VMware took a first step in our IoT journey, furthering our commitment to developers as well as makers of devices (the “things” of IoT) and gateway providers.
We are extremely excited to launch Liota (Little IoT Agent), a vendor-neutral Open Source software development kit (SDK) for building secure IoT gateway data and control orchestration applications: where, when, and how to gather data from attached devices and transfer data to data center components. Liota also supports an application in receiving control signals from the data center components. The Liota Open Source SDK provides the libraries to develop applications that connect and orchestrate data and control flows across things, gateways and the cloud.
Gateways are an integral part of IoT infrastructure. They bridge, but also de-couple, the physical IoT devices from the analytics and management components in data centers. This bridge allows data and control to move freely, correctly and securely from the device to the cloud or data center.
Liota provides that next step, while also offering the flexibility developers want and need. Liota is the industry’s first vendor-neutral, Open Source framework for IoT gateway orchestration application development. Thus, it provides a common way for enterprises to manage and leverage multiple gateway vendors within their IoT infrastructures.
Liota is an Open Source offering for IoT solution developers and resides primarily on IoT gateways. Liota has been generalized to allow, via modules, interaction with any data-center component, over any transport, and for any IoT gateway. It is easy-to-use and provides enterprise-quality modules for interacting with IoT Solutions. We’ve already tested Liota with many solutions from both VMware and the community, such as VMware AirWatch®, VMware vRealize® Operations Manager™ and the open-source tool Graphite.
Liota solves an industry problem that’s very real and has been validated in many recent discussions I’ve had, including with some VMware customers who have had early access to the framework.
For example, Francis Cianfrocca, founder & chief scientist at Bayshore Networks said, “It’s critical to for us to work across multiple gateway platforms to deliver the scale required for industrial IoT. Liota allows us to focus on app innovation rather than creating multiple versions of our app.”
Francis raises a very good point. Developers are often so bogged down in the day-to-day, backend development of apps that they rarely get time to focus on innovation. With how quick the market moves, however, innovation is what will set businesses apart, allowing them to keep or gain competitive advantage while continuing to drive the business forward.
Jason Shepherd, director of IoT strategy and partnerships over at Dell said, “An open framework for gateway app development is a powerful tool for IoT innovation. Apps built according to the Liota framework and running on Dell Edge Gateways give developers an opportunity to build powerful, flexible IoT solutions.”
Also, companies who make the “things” in IoT see the strength in Liota’s ability to connect data all the way from their devices to the Cloud. “We are excited to engage VMware and work towards Liota integration onto our product offering,” said Mazin Bedwan, V5 Systems, co-founder and president. “V5 Systems is on the forefront of Industrial IoT Edge Computing, and Liota is a valuable solution that helps connect V5 Systems nodes to one another as well as back to the cloud or data center for a seamless and enterprise quality flow of data and communication.”
Liota is available to developers for free now at https://github.com/vmware/liota, and it works with any gateway or operating system that supports Python.
IoT offers a new realm of challenges and opportunities, both for our customers and for us. Liota is just the first stop on our IoT journey…
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