Open Source will be critical to the Internet of Things (IoT)

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I am personally a fan of Open Source. The second company I was running with some good friends back in France in 2006 (www.iniflux.com) was all about it. We were playing with email servers, firewalls, file servers and everything you could think of on Open Source. We even created an appliance that was doing ISP redundancy for less than $1000 that would compete with $15K load balancers that were on the market thanks to Open Source software. Heck, most of the Internet today is run on Open Source. Apache has roughly 50% of all web servers out there, Mysql is all over the place and has 65,000 downloads a day!! Even open standards like HTTP are core to what the Internet is.

Netcraft (link here) published a study showing that Apache and Nginx make for roughly 60% of web servers out there.

But now, with the Internet of Things, it is going to need it more than ever. And here is why:

– The volumes we are talking about are unprecedented and every company out there will have a need to connect some things to other things. With that amount of companies, comes the same amount of specific use cases and needs which can lead to a more optimized customization to fulfill them.

– The diversity of standards (if any) and protocols would require a single vendor to put way too many resources to maintain them all. This is a community’s work. Lots of people need to contribute in order to be able to evolve standards, improve them, adapt them for everyone’s benefit. Cisco is saying 50 Billions devices by 2020, some say more like 20 Billions, but anyway.. it’s huge!

– Respect for privacy, security, control, scale and customization are the major benefits of Open Source and are making this a primary choice for companies. with so many connected device, being 100% sure that things are done securely, and can be fixed quickly when an issue arise is essential.

– Perennity is important.. If you are an industrial company with equipments that have a turnover of 15 or 20 years, you cannot afford to depend on a specific vendor to be there for that long. I work with many startups and they exit after a few years and most often disappear. With Open Source in hand, companies can be certain that they are in control of their destiny and will have something they can count on for years to come.

Of course Open Source has its downside in terms of skill set required and some bundles HW/SW optimization that may not exists, and this is why I am also a big fan of companies like Cloudera who propose support, training, and supporting tools to reduce complexity of management and maintenance of the underlying Open Source stack. Even large companies like HP are leveraging Open Source under their Helion umbrella (HP Helio). I find those models particularly interesting in fact as they combine the best of both worlds.

Here are some resources to look into:

The Eclipse Paho project: http://www.eclipse.org/paho/

A bit on MQTT: http://mqtt.org/

Some message brokers: http://mosquitto.org/  and http://activemq.apache.org/

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