Connectivity

IoT is not all about Cloud

October 15, 2017 Cloud Computing, Connected, Connectivity, Emerging Technologies, Internet of Things, IoT, Machines No comments

Recent past, I had multiple discussions with many tech forums and many people have a misconception about IoT and Cloud. Some think whenever we do something like blinking an LED with Raspberry Pi or Arduino is IoT.

I just thought of sharing some of my viewpoints on these terminologies.

  • Internet of Things(IoT) – refers to the connection of devices (other than the usual examples such as computers and smartphones) to the Internet. Cars, Home and Kitchen appliances, Industrial devices, and even heart monitors can all be connected through the IoT.
  • Cloud Computing – often called simply “the cloud,” involves delivering data, applications, photos, videos, and more over the Internet to data centers.

We can break down cloud computing into six different categories:

  1. Software as a service (SaaS): Cloud-based applications run on computers off-site (or “in the cloud”). Other people or companies own and operate these devices, which connect to users’ computers, typically through a web browser.
  2. Platform as a service (PaaS): Here, the cloud houses everything necessary to build and deliver cloud-based applications. This removes the need to purchase and maintain hardware, software, hosting, and more.
  3. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): IaaS provides companies with servers, storage, networking, and data centers on a per-use basis.
  4. Public Cloud: Companies own and operate these spaces and provide quick access to users over a public network.Example: Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure etc.
  5. Private Cloud: Similar to a public cloud, except only one entity (user, organization, company, etc.) has access. Means the access to the cloud is secured and isolated, only organizational entities have access to this type of cloud resources. A private cloud is owned by a single organization. Private clouds enable an organization to use cloud computing technology as a means of centralizing access to IT resources by different parts, locations, or departments of the organization. When a private cloud exists as a controlled environment within Onpremise data centers.
  6. Hybrid Cloud: Takes the foundation of a private cloud but provides public cloud access. This combination would be established through a secure high-speed VPN tunnel over MPLS or other dedicated lines or extended connectivity gateways provided by the respective cloud vendor. In this mode, your on-premise applications can connect to cloud infrastructure and vice versa. This provides you the flexibility to host your missing critical information in on-premise itself, but also provides you the flexibility to utilize the cloud power, without compromising your organization’s critical data.

Role of Cloud in IoT

Cloud is simply an enabler for IoT. It provides necessary services and infrastructure for things to be interconnected and operate.

Cloud provides all the essential services to increases efficiency in implementing your IoT solutions, accumulate and operate on IoT data. Internet of things requires Cloud to work, I would better define it as Cloud and IoT are inseparable, but IoT is not all about Cloud.

For example, millions of devices connected in an IoT ecosystem would create millions of bytes of data, and you would need sufficient infrastructure to store and operate on these data to create a meaningful result out of it.

Cloud Service providers started realizing the need of providing IoT specific services to customers to quickly enable to create Fast to market solutions. That’s where Cloud and IoT converges. Microsoft has packages all IoT related components into Azure IoT and hence Amazon AWS IoT, similarly the remaining providers such as SAP Hana, IBM Cloud etc. This helps customers from picking necessary components and build their IoT ecosystem in Cloud, or utilize the predefined(SaaS) solutions for quick enablement.

What is the role of Raspberry Pi, Arduino and Dragon board then?

These are single board computer or hardware boards(CPUs) or Microcontroller boards that have sufficient hardware capacity to run a small/complex IoT program on an operating system of your choice.

These boards are typically equipped with your basic storage and computing needs for establishing an IoT device or edge capability. You can write a program of your choice to blink an LED based on your conditions, as they are equipped with digital/analog I/O ports. You can choose from wide variety of operating systems such as Raspebian, Windows 10IoT etc to install on these devices or deploy microcontroller programs depending on the capacity.

This means they are edge devices which you can program for your IoT use case. When deployed to the field together, they would create an IoT network.

Conclusion:

Enough said, IoT is not all about the cloud, but are inseparable in a modern world and whatever you are doing with RaspeberryPi, Arduino Uno etc may not be an IoT unless there are a specific IoT use cases you are not trying to solve using these devices.

Useful References:

IoT Central–Microsoft’s SaaS solution for IoT

April 25, 2017 AMQP, Analytics, Azure, Azure IoT Suite, Cloud Computing, Cloud Services, Cloud to Device, Communication Protocols, Connected, Connectivity, Device to Cloud, Emerging Technologies, HTTP 1.1, Identity of Things (IDoT), Intelligent Cloud, Intelligent Edge, Internet of Things, IoT, IoT Central, IoT Devices, IoT Edge, IoT Hub, IoT Privacy, IoT Security, Machines, MQTT, PaaS, SaaS, Stream Analytics No comments

Microsoft has today released their IoT SaaS offering for customers and partners called as “Microsoft IoT Central”.  IoT Central enables powerful IoT scenarios without requiring cloud solution expertise and also simplifies the development process and makes customers to make quick time to market solutions, making digital transformation more accessible to everyone without overhead of implement solutions end to end.

As per Microsoft :

“IoT Central provides an easier way to create connected products that propel digital business. Take the complexity out of the Internet of Things (IoT) with a true, end-to-end IoT software as a service (SaaS) solution in the cloud that helps you build, use, and maintain smart products.”

Benefits of IoT Central:

  • Proven platform and technology with enterprise grade security.
  • Reduced complexities of setting up and maintaining IoT infrastructure and solutions.
  • Building smart connected products with lesser cost  and lesser overhead would ensure higher customer satisfaction.
  • Quickly adapt to changing environments.

For those would need control on implementing end to end can still choose the PaaS solution Azure IoT Suite.

Below is a picture from @JanakiramMSV’s article from forbes.com, to help you have a high level look at all the IoT offerings from Microsoft.

az-iot

Sources:

IoT Security–Essentials–Part 01

February 1, 2017 Cloud to Device, Communication Protocols, Connected, Connectivity, Contrained Networks/Devices, Device to Cloud, Geolocation, Identity of Things (IDoT), Internet Appliance, Internet of Things, IoT, IoT Privacy, IoT Security, machine-to-machine (M2M), Machines, Tech-Trends No comments , , , , ,

Security(Cyber Security) is an essential requirement for any IoT platform or devices or end users and the communication infrastructure.  In order to achieve or design best possible security solutions,  to avoid some external entity or hacker gaining access to your IoT device or infrastructure, every architect or system designer should do Threat Modeling exercise.  As the system is designed and architected, we can minimize the exposure to external threats to our IoT architecture.

With this article I am trying to provide you relevant bits and pieces essential for your understanding:

What is Cyber Security?

As per WhatIs.com – “Cybersecurity is the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. In a computing context, security includes both cybersecurity and physical security.”

To make it more clear and simpler – Cyber Security also known as Computer security, or IT security, is the protection of computer systems from the theft or damage to their hardware, software or information, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide. Cyber security includes controlling physical access to the hardware, as well as protecting against harm that may come via network access, data and code injection.

What is Threat Modeling?

The objective of threat modeling is to understand how an attacker might be able to compromise a system and then make sure appropriate mitigations are in place. Threat modeling forces the design team to consider mitigations as the system is designed rather than after a system is deployed. This fact is critically important, because retrofitting security defenses to a myriad of devices in the field is infeasible, error prone and will leave customers at risk.

[Content courtesy:  Microsoft]

In order to optimize security best practices, it is recommended that a proposed IoT architecture be divided into several component/zones as part of the threat modeling exercise.

Relevant Important  Zones  for an IoT architecture  :

  • Device,
  • Field Gateway,
  • Cloud gateways, and
  • Services.

Each zone is separated by a Trust Boundary, which is noted as the dotted red line in the diagram below. It represents a transition of data/information from one source to another. During this transition, the data/information could be subject to Spoofing, Tampering, Repudiation, Information Disclosure, Denial of Service and Elevation of Privilege (STRIDE).

[Content courtesy:  Microsoft]

This diagram like below provides a full 360 view you any proposed solution:

iot-security-architecture-fig1

Summary of important Sections/Zones:

  1. The Device Zonerepresents a thing or device where device to device or local user physical access is possible.
  2. The Field Gateway Zone –  Field gateway is a device/appliance (Embedded/Hardware) or some general-purpose software that runs on a Physical Server, and acts as communication enabler and potentially, as a device control system and device data processing hub.
  3. The Cloud Gateway ZoneCloud gateway is a system that enables remote communication from and to devices or field gateways from several different sites across public network space, typically towards a cloud-based control and data analysis system, a federation of such systems.
  4. The Services Zone –  A “service” is  any software component or module that is interfacing with devices through a field- or cloud gateway for data collection and analysis, as well as for command and control. Services are mediators.

Once we identified threat boundaries we should be able to provide fail safe security measures each associated zones, to meet the business needs and global information exchange and data compliance  standards.  It is also important to design the product from the start with security in mind because understanding how an attacker might be able to compromise a system helps make sure appropriate mitigations are in place from the beginning.

In next session, we will go through Microsoft’s IoT Reference architecture and associated security measures been put together across each zones. 

Additional Resources:

IoT Jargons – Identity of Things (IDoT)

January 6, 2017 Communication Protocols, Connected, Connectivity, Emerging Technologies, futuristic, Geolocation, Human Computer Interation, Identity of Things (IDoT), Internet Appliance, Internet of Things, IoT, IoT Privacy, IoT Security, machine-to-machine (M2M), Machines, Programs, Robotics, Tech-Trends No comments

The Identity of Things (IDoT) is an area involves assigning universal unique identifiers (UUID) with associated metadata to devices and objects (things), to identify, connect and communicate effectively with other machines over the internet or within constrained local network.

The metadata included with the UUID characterizes the identity of an endpoint. Identity is an essential part of the Internet of Things (IoT), in which nearly anything conceivable can be tended to and organized for exchange of information on the web. In this specific cases, a thing can be anything – including both physical and sensible articles – that has a specific own identifier and the capacity to exchange information over a network.

Addressability and Reachability makes it possible for things/devices to be targeted and found. To make it addressable for  the Internet of Things, a thing must be globally uniquely identifiable(no other thing with same identity).

To make communication among things effective and secure, following are some of the essential considerations for identities of things:

  • Maintaining a Lifecycle:  IoT Devices should be capable of maintain a lifecyle depending on the use and duration of sustainability of the device. Hence IDoT should be capable of maintaining a history of changes happening to the device over its lifespan.
  • Maintaining Relationships:Identify also should provide a basic necessity to relate the device to other devices in the context as well as
  • Context-awareness: Identity and access management (IAM) for IoT entities should be context aware and grant access only limited to a specific context as required. This would avoid exploitation of devices incase of any cyber attack. 
  • Adequate Authentication: provide means of securely authenticating IoT identities.  This would ensure only authenticated entities can gain access to the IoT device.

All these essential features should help in obtaining a unique naming standards for IoT devices  or projects in your organization.

IoT Protocols–Quick Comparison

January 5, 2017 Communication Protocols, Connectivity, Contrained Networks/Devices, Internet of Things, Interoperability, IoT, Performance, Reliability, Scalability, Tech-Trends No comments

The table below contains a quick summary of the IoT protocols:

Protocol CoAP XMPP RESTful HTTP MQTT AMQP
Transport UDP TCP TCP TCP TCP
Messaging Request/Response Publish/Subscribe Request/Response Request/Response Publish/Subscribe Request/Response Topic based Publish/Subscribe
2G, 3G, 4G Suitability (1000s nodes) Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
LLN Suitability (1000s nodes) Excellent Fair Fair Fair Excellent
Compute Resources 10Ks RAM/Flash 10Ks RAM/Flash 10Ks RAM/Flash 10Ks RAM/Flash 10Ks RAM/Flash
Success Stories Utility Field Area Networks Remote management of consumer white goods Smart Energy Profile 2 (premise energy management, home services) Extending enterprise messaging into IoT applications Extending enterprise messaging into IoT applications
designed for resource-constrained devices and low bandwidth, high latency networks interoperability
reliable queuing, flexible routing, transactions, and security

Source: Beyond MQTT: A Cisco View on IoT Protocols, Paul Duffy, April 30 2013

Internet of Things (IoT)–Introduction

January 5, 2017 Communication Protocols, Connected, Connectivity, Emerging Technologies, Geolocation, Human Computer Interation, Hype vs. reality, Identity of Things (IDoT), Internet Appliance, Internet of Things, IoT, IoT Privacy, IoT Security, machine-to-machine (M2M), Machines, Tech-Trends No comments

The Internet of things (IoT) is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

  • The IoT allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit in addition to reduced human intervention.

IoT

“ Forecasts show an expected IoT universe with between 20 and 30 billion connected devices by 2020 “

Image result for Internet of Things

[Image Source: https://www.i-scoop.eu/internet-of-things-guide/]

IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications.

Some of the important IoT messaging protocols are:

  1. AMQP(Advanced Message Queuing Protocol) – An open standard application layer protocol for message-oriented middleware. The defining features of AMQP are message orientation, queuing, routing (including point-to-point and publish-and-subscribe), reliability and security.
  2. MQTT (Message Queueing Telemetry  Transport)- or MQ Telemetry Transport is a lightweight connectivity protocol geared for IoT applications. It is based on the TCP/IP stack which uses the publish/subscribe method for transportation of data. It is open-ended and supports a high level of scaling, which makes it an ideal platform for development of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.
  3. HTTP/2 – Enables a more efficient use of network resources and a reduced perception of latency by introducing header field compression and allowing multiple concurrent exchanges on the same connection.
  4. CoAP(Constrained Application Protocol) – CoAP is a web transfer protocol based on the REST model. It is mainly used for lightweight M2M communication owing to its small header size. It is designed especially for constrained networks and systems withing the Internet of Things paradigm, hence the name, Constrained Application Protocol.
    CoAP mimics HTTP in terms of user visibility, and from that standpoint, reading sensor values is essentially like making an HTTP request.
  5. XMPP(Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) – An open technology for real-time communication, which powers a wide range of applications including instant messaging, presence, multi-party chat, voice and video calls, collaboration, lightweight middleware, content syndication, and generalized routing of XML data.

We will go through about them in detail in later posts.

That’s all for now. Keep reading.

Sources: