OASIS: MQTT to be the protocol for the Internet of Things

The MQTT pub/sub protocol would be ideal for low-bandwidth, low-power communications

Setting the foundation for what may be a multitrillion-dollar marketplace, OASIS (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) has declared MQTT (the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) as its messaging protocol of choice for the emerging Internet of Things.

"One of the big challenges for right now is that there is not a clear open standard" for message communication with embedded systems, said Mike Riegel, an IBM vice president of mobile and application integration middleware. "We know historically that unless you get to an open standard like this, it is not possible to drive the breakthroughs that are needed."

In much the same way that the HTTP standard paved the way for people sharing information through the World Wide Web, MQTT could set the stage for bringing online billions of low-cost, embedded data-collecting telemetry devices, Riegel said.

The Internet of Things is not a network, but a new marketing phrase that describes the growing use of network-connected embedded microprocessors, often connected to sensors or other data-gathering instruments. Because microprocessors are now so inexpensive and networks are so pervasive, such embedded systems could provide a wealth of data that organizations in most industries could use to monitor and improve operations.

The GSM Association (GSMA) has estimated that 15 billion such devices will be online by 2020. And Cisco has estimated that this market could provide more than $14 trillion in sales for IT providers.

MQTT is a publish/subscribe messaging protocol particularly well-suited for working with limited computational power and lean network connectivity. IBM and systems provider Eurotech first developed MQTT, and then contributed the protocol to OASIS. The protocol is already used in a wide variety of embedded systems. Hospitals use the protocol to communicate with pacemakers and other medical devices. Oil and gas companies use MQTT to monitor thousands of miles of oil pipelines.

To help strengthen MQTT for its mission, OASIS has formed a new technical committee that will equip MQTT to work with more types of networks, devices and software applications. Engineers from Cisco, IBM, Red Hat, Software AG and Tibco, among other companies, will help with the project.

IBM plans to make some product announcements next week around MQTT during its annual Impact conference in Las Vegas.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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