IoT Developers Face Long List of Challenges

Carl Weinschenk
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One group that will be vital for the future of the Internet of Things (IoT), and one that stands to make out quite well, is developers.

They are getting the help that they will need to succeed. This week, IBM and AT&T announced a partnership that will combine Big Blue’s Watson cognitive computing platform and AT&T’s networking to help developers work efficiently in the new environment. The idea is for AT&T to connect developers to the IBM cloud, where they will have access to open source and proprietary IBM tools:

IBM and AT&T will provide open-source IoT tools such as IBM’s Node-RED and open standards like MQTT. Node-RED is a visual tool for wiring the Internet of things. Built by IBM Emerging Technologies, Node-RED is a tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services for IoT application development.

eWeek adds that MQTT, which initially was named Message Queuing Telemetry Transport, is a machine-to-machine (M2M) protocol for IoT connectivity.

The IoT, many developers are betting, is where the money is. Evans Data Corp. last month released a report that said that there are now 6.2 million IoT developers. That is a 34 percent increase during the past year, the firm said. Smartphones are the most common IoT platform.

The study used input from 40 countries in North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. Commentary in the release suggests that skills from other areas, such as mobility and cloud computing, can be readily leveraged in IoT development. Growth is expected in more complex IoT venues, such as the Industrial IoT (IIoT).

As with anything as complex and pervasive as the Internet of Things, there is potential for significant confusion and dislocation. This is especially true in the inherently complicated world of software development. RTInsights’ Joe McKendrick touched on this in coverage of the Evans research:

Of course, there are still many different standards, use cases and approaches to IoT, with each vendor taking a different slant on their solutions. Until there is greater standardization, it’s likely there will be intense competition for the hearts and minds (yes, and stomachs) of the developer community.

SitePoint last week offered specificity on the challenges facing developers in the nascent IoT age: Developers will need to wade through security, privacy, connectivity, compatibility and longevity issues. It is worth noting that those issues exist when writing for any platform. Dealing with an unsettled standards environments and business models will multiply these issues.

All new platforms present questions and potential pitfalls. This will be especially true in the world of the IoT. In addition to its ubiquity, endpoints will be low cost, which could affect what developers are called upon to do and the extent of the tools they have to do it. The takeaway is that IoT development, like everything else connected to the IoT, will be a brave new world.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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