The Internet of Things (IoT) has seen an increasing interest in adaptive frameworks and architectural designs to promote the correlation between IoT devices and IoT systems. This is because IoT systems are designed to be categorized across diverse application domains and geographical locations. It, therefore, creates extensive dependencies across domains, platforms and services. Considering this interdependency between IoT devices and IoT systems, an intelligent, connection-aware framework has become a necessity, this is where IoT architecture comes into play!
Imagine a variety of smart IoT systems from sensors and actuators to internet getaways and Data Acquisition Systems all under the centralized control of one “brain”! The brain here can be referred to as the IoT architecture, whose effectiveness and applicability directly correlate with the quality of its building blocks. The way a system interacts and the different functions an IoT device performs are various approaches to IoT architecture. Since we can call the architecture the brain, it’s also possible to say that the key causes of poor integration in IoT systems are the shortage of intelligent, connection-aware architecture to support interaction in IoT systems.
A Deeper Analysis of the “Brain”: IoT Architecture
In essence, an IoT architecture is the system of numerous elements that range from sensors, protocols, actuators, to cloud services, and layers.
Besides, devices and sensors the Internet of Things (IoT) architecture layers are distinguished to track the consistency of a system through protocols and gateways. Different architectures have been proposed by researchers and we can all agree that there is no single consensus on architecture for IoT. The most basic architecture is a three-layer architecture.
The Different Layers Of IoT Architecture
The three different layers are, namely, the perception, network, and application layers.
- The perception layer is the physical layer, which incorporates sensors for sensing and gathering information about the environment. It senses some physical parameters or recognizes other smart objects in the environment.
- The network layer is accountable for correlating to other smart things, network devices, and servers. Its characteristics are also used for transmitting and processing sensor data.
- The application layer is effective for delivering application-specific services to the user. It defines various applications in which the Internet of Things (IoT) services can be deployed, for example, smart homes, smart cities, and smart health.
The three-layer architecture defines the main concept of the Internet of Things, but it is believed to be insufficient for research because in-depth analysis often focuses on other finer aspects of the Internet of Things (IoT). Therefore a five-layer architecture was proposed which additionally includes the processing and business layers.
The five layers are:
- Business Layers
- Application Layers
- Processing Layers
- Transport Layers
- Perception Layers
- As the name itself indicates, the transport layer mostly transports the sensor information from the perception layer to the processing layer and vice versa. This transportation is mainly done through networks such as SDN/NFV, 5G, wireless, local area networks, RFID, Bluetooth, and NFC.
- The processing layer also known as the middleware layer, stores, analyzes and processes tremendous amounts of data that comes from the transport layer. It can control and provide several sets of services to the lower layers. It implements multiple technologies such as cloud computing, databases, and big data analytics
- The business layer manages the whole IoT system, including profit models, applications, and businesses.
(We have already mentioned about the application and perception layer)
How Does an Enterprise Benefit From IoT Architecture?
Now, we know about the different layers in IoT architecture but how are they beneficial to enterprise and how can businesses get more out of IoT?
Although the IoT refers to connected devices and protocols, in practicality, the data from the devices are isolated, siloed and fragmented. These fragmented insights on their own do not provide much information needed to justify heavy resource investment in an IoT strategy. For enterprises to make the most out of IoT, the interactions between the devices must be open, and more device and system synergies have to be made possible.
This is where IoT Architecture for Enterprises are essential. It can help enterprises leverage the interconnectivity of smart devices and systems, grouping them together to measure certain data, or to form new business models and uses.
By taking advantage of different technologies ranging from embedded devices with actuators and sensors to internet-based communication and cloud platforms enterprises can automate business processes. Further such enterprise IoT applications can provide control instructions to devices based on specific business rules. With the progressions in Big Data analytics, the insights obtained from the IoT data sets will become valuable for enterprises to take decisions. From connecting IoT devices, mining sensor data sets to software platforms and controlling, IoT architecture works as the single node monitoring all functions.
Below are a few examples of the different stages of IoT architecture implemented in enterprises:
- Internet gateways
- Edge IoT
- Datacenter and cloud
Internet Gateways: This component is based on traditional IoT Gateway whose main responsibility is to act as a proxy between the world of field things and the enterprise data center, usually cloud-based.
Edge IoT: The term edge comes from Edge Computing where data is processed at the periphery of the network, as close to the originating data as possible. The key factor which makes edge processing crucial is turning the data processing and action taking the closest to real-time.
Datacenter and cloud: By using virtualization, hardware resources and IoT devices in an IoT architecture can be well utilized. Both HTTP and MQTT servers are also introduced as the application servers of the IoT cloud. The HTTP servers can implement services for devices and end-users, while the MQTT servers ensure a large number of device connections and real-time communication among devices. Furthermore, some other key components such as the supporting databases are also presented for the sake of functionality, availability and performance.
In conclusion, we can say that IoT technology promises to put innovation in line with efficient management, analysis, and exploitation of the data; which is done by a strong, future-proof, scalable and secure IoT architecture.
An IoT architecture may offer diverse solutions for various industries but its fundamental feature is to create an IoT ecosystem that is functional, scalable, flexible, maintainable and cost-effective. Therefore, if you are looking to implement attractive and future-proof IoT projects, make sure you have a well defined and efficient IoT architecture.
Originally published at ThinkPalm.com