• When is free really free? Make sense of Open Source IoT platforms, avoid pitfalls

    06/14/2021 at 09:57 0 comments

    When there’s more than one open source IoT platform out there, how do you evaluate the one that best fits your needs? What are some common pitfalls to avoid? This article provides a brief overview of the top 5 contenders, with their strengths and weaknesses.

    But first, what’s open source and why is it relevant?

    Open source means you are free to use, modify, combine or compile software code in any way you want, without any obligation, as long as you don’t redistribute it by means of hardware or web services. If you want to embed open source code in your OEM product or service, different options are available based on the type of open source license.

    Open Source is relevant because you are not tied to the supplier of the code, thus preventing any unwanted vendor lock-in. Having full access to the source code, you have the flexibility to adjust to changing market conditions and extend, change or pivot when needed. Moreover, you have the ability to add or optimize functionality for your product.

    If the code is free, how do open source IoT developers make money?  The way most companies make money with open source software is with add-ons and support services. This ranges from paid-for advanced features, organizing a hosted service (SaaS), to project management, or support and maintenance for commercial users.

    Selecting the best open source IoT Platform

    To identify the right open source IoT platform for your needs, consider the following additional criteria, based on organizational needs, quality, and legal concerns:

    • Must have functionalities: IoT platforms require a coherent set of functionalities which include the ability to integrate through multiple protocols, use automation, provide data visualizations, use edge gateways, multi-tenancy, as well as provide a front-end strategy and account management and identity services.
    • Professional implementations: the extent the platform has been adopted by larger organizations is a good signal pointing to the quality of the IoT solution.
    • Community backing: is there an active community of users? Watchers and star-gazers are nice, but active contributors are what moves the needle. How recent are code commits to the projects and is their activity in your region?
    • User friendliness: The flexibility to tailor the code to specific applications is paramount. Great user friendliness also entails comprehensive documentation and community support.
    • Level of open source: Which parts of the IoT platform are open source? Watch out for “bait and switch” offerings where the company’s open source offering is in reality a stripped down version of their higher-functionality for-pay product. Closely review possible code-use restrictions, such as features which are only available with a for-pay license. 
    • Professional backing and licensing: Does the open source entity provide clear copyright and the ability to get a commercial license? Is the copyright owner well-structured and legally sound? This is relevant for professional entities who want to integrate the software as part of their commercial offering, and seek long-term professional support.

    The top 5 of Open Source IoT Platforms in 2021

    Open Source IoT platform comparison

    FIWARE is especially popular in Europe and South America. It is professionally backed by Atos, Engineering, NEC and Telefonica. On the non-profit side, it has the support of the Open Agile and Smart Cities communities. As a whole, it’s especially strong as a networked organization. However, potential users need to be aware that Fiware is not a single product, but a larger series of projects. This makes it hard to use in open source as it is extremely complex and CPU-intensive to deploy into a unified, complete product.

    OpenBalena is not a complete IoT platform, merely a device orchestration tool that allows you to manage large numbers of devices in the field. It’s a complimentary function to all...

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  • OpenRemote 100% Open Source IoT Platform

    12/16/2020 at 20:33 0 comments

    OpenRemote is introducing a new open source IoT Platform, which is 100% open source (so no features behind a commercial version only).

    It's already applied in larger professional applications in The Netherlands, UK, Germany and US, so ruggedised!

    Main features:

    • Map and Asset view, including provisioning
    • Asset model with self defined asset types
    • Configurable Protocol Agents, aligned with Asset models
    • Both Flow-, WHEN-THEN-, and Groovy Rules
    • Data visualisation on an 'Insight' page
    • Manager Interconnect: Edge Gateway instances can be coupled with a single centrally hosted instance
    • Account management & ID service: creating roles and users, editing accounts, TFA
    • Logging

    Demo: https://demo.openremote.io

    Source Code: https://github.com/openremote/openremote

    License: APLv3