Cloud + Machine-to-Machine = Disruption of Things: Part 2
Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on the advantages that cloud computing brings to the machine-to-machine space. It was first published as a white paper by Ken Fromm. Fromm is VP of Business Development at Appoxy, a Web app development company building high scale applications on Amazon Web Services. He can be found on Twitter at @frommww.
Once data is in the cloud, it can be syndicated – made accessible to other processes – in very simple and transparent ways. The use of of REST APIs and JSON or XML data structures, combined with dynamic language data support, allows data to be accessed, processed and recombined in flexible and decentralized ways. A management console, for example, can set up specific processes to watch ranges of sensors and perform operations specific data sets. These processes can be launched and run on any server at any time, controlled via a set schedule or initiated in response to other signals.
Data can also propagate easily throughout a system so that it can be used by multiple processes and parties. Much like Twitter streams that make use simple subscription/asymmetric follow approach, M2M data streams can be exposed to credentialed entities by a similar loosely coupled and asymmetric subscription process.
The model is essentially a simple data bus containing flexible data formats, which other processes can access without need for a formal agreement. Data sets, alarms and triggers can move throughout the system much like status and other federated signals are flowing within Consumer Web 2.0.
Low-Cost Sensors and Reliable Data Transmission
The cloud benefits outlined here are predicated on low-cost sensors being available (and low-power for a number of uses) as well as inexpensive and high availability data transmission.
The first assumption is a pretty solid bet now and will only become more true in the next year or two. And with mobile companies looking at M2M as important sectors and wireless IP access extending out in both coverage and simplicity (and bluetooth to mobile for some instances), being able to reliably and pervasively send data to the Web is also becoming more of a certainty.
Flexible and Agile App Development
Another core benefit of the cloud is development speed and agility. Because screen interfaces can be separated from data collection, inexpensive and remote devices can be used as the interfaces. Separating views from data from application logic means that widely available languages and tools can be used, making it easier and faster to add new features and rapidly improve interfaces. Device monitoring and control can take on all the features, functions and capabilities that Web apps and browsers provide without having to have developers learn special languages or use obscure device SDKs.
Developing these applications can be done quickly by leveraging popular dynamic languages such as Ruby on Rails, Python and Java. Ruby on Rails (Ruby is the language; Rails is an application framework) offers many advantages when it comes to developing Web applications:
- simple dynamic object-oriented language
- built-in Web application framework
- transparent model-view-controller architecture
- simple connections between applications and databases
- large third-party code libraries
- vibrant developer community
Here’s Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce explaining his purchase of Heroku, a Ruby on Rails cloud development platform from ComputerWeekly in December 2010:
“Ruby is the language of Cloud 2 [applications for real-time mobile and social platforms]. Developers love Ruby. It’s a huge advancement. It offers rapid development, productive programming, mobile and social apps and massive scale. We could move the whole industry to Ruby on Rails.”
Developing applications in the cloud provides added speed and agility because of reduced development cycles. Projects can be developed quickly with small teams. Cloud-based services and code libraries can be used to so that teams develop only what is core to their application.
Adding charts and graphs to an application is a matter of including a code library or signing up for third party service and connecting to it via REST APIs. Adding geolocation capabilities involves a similar process. In this way, new capabilities can be added quickly and current capabilities extended without having to develop entire stacks of functionality not core to a company’s competencies.
Here’s VMWare’s CEO Paul Maritz on the advantages of programming frameworks:
“Developers are moving to Django and Rails. Developers like to focus on what’s important to them. Open frameworks are the foundation for new enterprise application development going forward. By and large developers no longer write windows or Linux apps. Rails developers don’t care about the OS – they’re more interested in data models and how to construct the UI.”
Monitoring and control dashboards and data visualization are critical to creating effective M2M applications. Having dynamic languages and frameworks that facilitate rapid development and rapid iteration means companies can move quickly to roll out new capabilities and respond rapidly to customer needs.
Next page: Big Data Processing