Coding platform for IoT could bring data-crunching apps online faster

RacoWireless is using standard software tools to help developers connect with any device

The "Internet of things" won't be built overnight, but vendors are now stepping in to give enterprises a helping hand.

The latest offer comes from RacoWireless, which on Tuesday announced a platform designed to ease development of applications that use data from a wide range of IoT devices. The Omega DevCloud, which will be part of the company's Omega Management Suite, is set for general availability in September.

With it, developers writing applications will no longer have to code them for specific devices or add firmware to those devices in the field, RacoWireless President John Horn said. Instead, using a personalized API (application programming interface) based on commonly used specifications, they can have the device's data sent to the Omega DevCloud and then transferred into an application. That application can be written in the language the developer already uses.

RacoWireless announced Omega DevCloud at the M2M Evolution conference in Las Vegas, where IoT companies are grappling with how to pave the road to IoT deployment and foster wider use of the technology. Today, connected devices are largely concentrated in specific industries where so-called machine-to-machine communication has been dominated by specialized and often proprietary infrastructure.

IoT holds the promise of collecting large amounts of data from devices out in the world and using that information to boost efficiency or sell useful services to consumers. But many of those devices use specialized operating systems, making it hard to write applications that communicate with them.

Though there are several efforts underway to standardize the way IoT devices and communication will work, tools such as Omega DevCloud bring a new flexibility to IoT development, Machina Research analyst Andy Castonguay said.

"Yes, it's nice to have perhaps a consolidated marketplace from a devices standpoint (such as creating economies of scale in manufacturing) but ... at an application level, it's becoming a bit obsolete," Castonguay said.

The industries using or getting ready for IoT are so diverse that standards are already fragmented and may not be the answer, said analyst James Brehm, founder of James Brehm & Associates.

"I'm not going to say we can't have standards, but this is the Internet of everything, right? So, how many standards are going to exist that we're going to have to interact with?" Brehm said. "And you're not going to create one overarching standard." Meanwhile, tools such as DevCloud bring much-needed simplicity to the development process, he said.

Omega DevCloud uses an API based on the commonly used REST (representational state transfer) and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) specifications. It's the latest piece in a set of tools to let companies quickly start taking advantage of data from devices in the field. RacoWireless already streamlines the process of activating and managing remote devices through many telecommunications carriers.

Together, all these tools can mean developing an application and getting it online in minutes or hours rather than weeks, Horn said. In a demonstration on stage at M2M Evolution, a developer from RacoWireless wrote and deployed an application in less than half an hour that captured location data from a device moving around Las Vegas and mapped its course on Google Maps. The coding he carried out on stage consisted of just a few lines of JavaScript.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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