Announced in beta at its re:Invent conference back in October 2015, Amazon officially launched its AWS (Amazon Web Services) IoT platform just before Christmas. With this platform, Amazon wants to enable IoT devices to easily connect to the Amazon Web Services cloud to store, process, analyse and act on the data collected from those devices.
Joining other platforms focused on IoT over the past year, such as Google’s Weave, Samsung SmartThings and ARM’s Mbed, AWS IoT was developed by Amazon’s engineers to solve the challenges of connecting IoT devices to the cloud. Amazon’s engineers saw that the process to connect devices was generally overly complex and believed they could deliver what the industry needed.
According to Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels, ‘the platform will be able to support billions of devices and trillions of messages, with the ability to process and route those messages to AWS endpoints and other devices reliably and securely.’
AWS IoT provides an SDK that makes it easy for developers to use the AWS IoT functionality from connected devices through mobile and web applications. With the AWS IoT platform devices connect to AWS IoT’s Devices Gateway, enabling manufacturers to set rules for how the platform handles the data and the action devices should take if they exceed the parameters of the rules.
Using the AWS Management Console, the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), or AWS IoT APIs, IoT device management should be more accessible for deployments.
For example, to ensure the safety levels within a factory are maintained, a factory operator could easily change safety parameters from pressure or temperature sensors without needing to write a single line of code. This enables end users to have a higher level of control over the devices around them, without the need to go through complex procedures.
However, with billions more devices expected to be connected to the Internet in the near future, AWS IoT may receive messages from connected industrial equipment, producing vast amounts of telemetry data each hour which may not be relevant to the business. With AWS IoT’s rules engine, the business can instruct AWS IoT to filter certain types of sensor data (e.g. pump pressure) as it comes in. This will allow the company to process data efficiently, to determine the right actions and filter out irrelevant data.
Another issue that the AWS IoT platform is trying to help users overcome is the intermittent connectivity to the Internet that features on many devices. Connected devices are usually operated via apps that communicate with them using APIs. However, devices may not always be available to respond to API calls, due to intermittent connectivity or power constraints. AWS IoT creates a virtual version, or “shadow” of each connected device. This shadow includes all of the information about the device’s state and is always available, enabling apps to check the device’s status and take actions that are automatically sent to the device, once it reconnects.
Organisations such as Philips, NASA and Diversey Care, a division of Sealed Air Corp, are all testing AWS IoT platform capabilities in the hopes of improving operations through better business intelligence.
Philips health division is using AWS IoT by adding AWS IoT to its existing HealthSuite digital platform and its device cloud. The HealthSuite platform is already managing more than seven million connected medical grade and consumer devices, sensors and mobile apps. According to Jeroen Tas, CEO of healthcare informatics, solutions and services at Philips, “AWS IoT will make it easier to acquire, process and act upon data from heterogeneous devices in real-time. Our products, and the care they support, are enabled to grow smarter and more personalised over time.”
Amazon Web Services has become one of the backbone infrastructures of the new digital world, that encompases big data, cloud and mobile. It’s not surprising that Amazon is positioning itself to help support new IoT devices and enablement.