IoT Hype Won't Carry Your Business—Simplicity Will

If you find yourself in a fervor to IoT-enable your products, you may be overwhelmed by complexity. But there are simple solutions.
By Sergey Lyubka
May 24, 2016

The hype around the Internet of Things is everywhere. Product producers are racing toward prototyping new, connected products and upgrading existing offerings to enable connectivity in them as well. In the process, they may begin to feel stumped by the complexity of IoT development.

When you review the steps that go into connecting a device to an IoT network, the complexity can be quite daunting. You need to consider:

• Spectrum allocation and government regulations
• Device management
• Data management
• Systems integration
• Applications and services rollout
• Device support
• Infrastructure support
• Secure connectivity
• And so much more

These are all aspects that come to play, together with the need to find skilled engineers. General software engineers lack the skill set needed to develop IoT-enabled solutions. These solutions require complex, powerful coding on minute footprints. Embedded software engineers have these skills. However, they are rare and, therefore, difficult to hire and retain to manage a solution on an ongoing basis.

There must be a simpler way to IoT-enable devices.

For straightforward use cases, such as enabling remote access for users or providing an access point to multiple devices, an embedded Web server will provide a robust, simple solution. Embedded Web servers act as a building block for IoT solution platforms, providing thin client interfaces for applications and delivering indexing, reporting and debugging tools for devices. If your development does not require additional functionality, such as cloud connectivity, then a strong embedded Web server is a more flexible, cost-effective solution than a full-scale IoT solution platform.

To get a little more into the technical piece, a good embedded Web server can serve a Web-based graphical user interface (GUI) on devices, implement RESTful services, RPC (for example, JSON-RPC), asynchronous WebSocket communication and telemetry data exchange, among other functionalities. It should be plug-and-play for developers: taking existing code and, just by adding some additional lines of code, integrating it into your existing product.

By building an embedded Web server into an existing product, a virtual control panel to configure the product can be created. This is how it could be used:

Dashboard Server
Through phone or desktop applications, end users can access the product remotely. Examples of this application are Internet-connected alarm systems, home thermostats and so forth.

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