IBM and AT&T are cozying up to IoT developers

The companies want to make it easier for enterprises to take IoT deployments from concept to reality

Big IoT partnerships are coming thick and fast these days. A deal between IBM and AT&T to help developers turn IoT ideas into reality is just the latest tie-up involving major enterprise vendors in this field.

The partnership will combine AT&T’s connectivity with IBM’s Watson and Bluemix analytics platforms. Through APIs (application programming interfaces) and development environments, plus open-source tools, the two companies say they’ll make life easier for developers.

IoT involves so many parts that it’s almost inevitable enterprises will be working with several vendors to get their infrastructure up and running. Devices that collect data, clouds that analyze it, and networks that link the two are just the main components of systems that can rival the complexity of anything in IT.

On Wednesday, IBM and AT&T focused on the opening step of getting such systems off the ground. Big Blue’s piece of the puzzle is its cloud, specifically the Watson IoT Platform and Bluemix services. AT&T wants to sell the network pipes that will pump data into those clouds, but it also contributes development tools. They include AT&T Flow Designer for creating and deploying IoT applications, plus M2X for things like managing devices and setting triggers for sensor alerts.

The companies are offering developers APIs, including IBM Watson and OpenWhisk APIs, to tie all these resources together. They’re also creating a starter kit to make it easier for developers to get going on an IoT deployment.

But they also vowed to deepen their commitment to open-source tools, including the MQTT messaging protocol and Node-RED, a visual IoT tool based on Node.js. Using open source can help enterprises hire developers and protect their investments in IoT code into the future, the companies said.

The deal was announced just days after General Electric said its Predix IoT platform would be available on Microsoft's Azure cloud. Last month, IBM teamed up with Cisco Systems to combine Watson with IoT edge servers.

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