AWS re:Invent 2015: Amazon aims to make AWS a better home for IoT devices

Amazon has designed an AWS IoT platform to help companies start implementing services using embedded devices

The Internet of Things is transforming the way companies do business by making it easier to connect objects in the physical world to monitoring, control, and analysis systems via the web. But actually starting up an IoT implementation can be difficult, especially when it comes to developing all of the web services necessary to get the thing off the ground.

Cloud providers have been working on bundled IoT services designed to make that transition easier, and now Amazon is aiming at the same goal with the beta release of its new AWS IoT platform. It's designed to provide end-to-end support for managing and working with embedded devices through Amazon's cloud.

Developers connect hardware to the service's Device Gateway through HTTP and the venerable Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT) protocol. AWS IoT can provide X.509 certificates to all of those devices in order to ensure encrypted communications, or customers can provide their own. In addition, the service is integrated with AWS's Identity and Access Management product, which lets customers set permissions for individual devices or groups of them.

Once the service is set up to ingest data from devices, then users can set up the AWS IoT Rules Engine to evaluate inbound data and take action on it. Developers can use functions built into the AWS Management Console, or write their own rules in a SQL-like syntax. Those rules can take in data from one or more devices and act on it in the Amazon cloud.

Information can be routed to other Amazon services including Lambda, Kinesis, Amazon Machine Learning and the company's Simple Storage Service (S3). To reach external endpoints, developers can use Lambda, Kinesis or Amazon's Simple Notification Service.

One of the most powerful features of the new platform is Amazon's Device Shadows technology, which keeps a snapshot of devices' status so applications can know how they were set before going offline. In addition, it's possible to use API calls to set a desired future state for the device, and the AWS IoT service will see to it that the device reaches that state when it's next online.

The platform is built as a fully managed service, so companies don't have to worry about provisioning more resources in order to keep up with growth -- it just automatically scales, thanks to work that Amazon does on the service's backend. Users pay $5 per million messages published from or delivered to devices, and the AWS Free Tier includes a year of free use of the service if developers keep their use to 250,000 messages published or delivered per month.

The AWS IoT software development kit will be available in C, JavaScript, and an Arduino Library. Developers who want to try out the service can purchase one of the many starter kits that chip manufacturers have built in partnership with Amazon. Those kits include development boards from Intel, Qualcomm and MediaTek, among others, and will be available for purchase through Amazon.com.

The platform will help Amazon better compete with Microsoft, which launched an Azure IoT Suite earlier this year to help users of its cloud platform work with data from embedded devices.

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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