The internet of things is about connecting internet-enabled devices that relay information back to us, to (typically cloud-based) applications and to each other (device to device).
Put simply, IoT platforms connect the sensors and data network to one another, integrating with back-end applications to provide insight into large volumes of data. For example, it means that businesses with IoT networks can trigger push notifications automatically when a device come in contact with a particular sensor, providing real-time analytics of events.
Unsurprisingly, IoT has become a clear area of focus for some of the leading IT vendors recently, with many keen to capitalise on early interest and position themselves as the IoT market matures.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft, with its Azure public cloud, arguably have the most complete portfolios of IoT services and platforms at the moment. However they are far from the only large tech firms creating products that help businesses manage, secure and analyse IoT data.
Here are some of the leading internet of things platforms currently available from the big IT vendors.
1. AWS IoT
Announced at the AWS Re:Invent conference last year, the AWS IoT Platform provides a device SDK, secure device gateway, registry (for recognising devices), device shadows (a virtual version) and a rules engine (to evaluate inbound messages).
The vendor claims the new platform will make it easy to connect sensors - on cars, turbines, sensor grids and light bulbs for example - using the AWS' public cloud to store, process and analyse the data by these devices.
AWS has also struck partnerships with the likes of Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments to create hardware component 'IoT Starter Kits' that are compatible with its services.
Cost: $5 per million messages
2. Microsoft Azure IoT
Running alongside Microsoft Azure cloud services, the Azure IoT suite offers a rules engine, identity registry, information monitoring and device shadowing.
The IoT platform, unveiled early last year, incorporates existing products such as Azure Stream Analytics to process massive amounts of information in real-time.
Cost: Free for up to 8,000 messages per month or £15.28-£30.55 per month for 400,000 messages or £152.73-£305.45 per month for 6,000,000 messages.
3. IBM Watson
IBM's Watson analytics platform is also being targeted at IoT use cases. Watson Internet of Things enables users to set up and manage IoT connected devices via IBM's Bluemix, its hybrid cloud platform as a service (PaaS) development platform.
IBM Watson users receive device management, real-time data exchange, secure communications and data storage.
Earlier this month, IBM announced the acquisition of The Weather Company, adding weather and data sensor data to its Watson IoT service.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.