IoT Cloud Platforms are a set of software and hardware tools that enable IoT devices and cloud computing to work together as an end-to-end service. They are also known as Cloud Service IoT Platforms. As the number of IoT devices are growing each day, the need for IoT Cloud Platforms is on the rise as well. From Google, to Microsoft and from Oracle to IBM, every IT solution provider is tapping this market by offering a unique set of IoT enabled services.
IoT devices containing various sensors can connect to cloud platforms directly using various communication protocols or they can use gateways to connect to the cloud platforms. The data from IoT devices can be shared with various stakeholders and also can also be shared with various analytical tools or advanced AI based machine learning tools to predict disaster or equipment failure.
Architecture of IoT Cloud Platform
The image below shows a typical IoT cloud architecture developed by Innovation Lab. In this cloud platform, an IoT device can directly connect to a MQTT broker (a communication protocol for low energy devices) or multiple IoT devices can connect to ILab gateway that is responsible for sending data from all these devices to MQTT broker. The data from MQTT broker is extracted by various scripts and API services and then can be stored in a cloud database and can also be sent to various user defined services and is viewable using any device (desktop, mobile, laptop etc). A user can communicate back to the devices in some cases and commands them to perform certain actions; e.g. controlling a thermostat for an air conditioning unit or shutting down some machines.
Choosing an IoT Cloud Platform
If you are looking to install IoT devices and are looking for an IoT Cloud Platform to host these devices, there are a lot of factors that you need to take into consideration when comparing IoT Cloud Platforms. Other than business or technical factors, you need to consider scalability, reliability, customization, operations, communication protocols, technology stack, security and the cost.
For example, you can choose to implement an open source IoT Cloud Platform with lower costs but it will bring technical challenges when you are going to scale up the operations. Or you can choose to deploy your devices on AWS or on Azure that are designed to host hundreds and thousands of devices but this comes with higher prices.