The Internet of Things (IoT) Landscape

November 04, 2014 | BY Michael Hausenblas

In the first installment of the IoT blog series we established what the Internet of Things means for businesses and that it lends itself to big data. This time we will have a closer look at the IoT landscape, that is, IoT software and hardware provider as well as community-related activities.

Provider: from infrastructure to apps

As of time of writing (fall of 2014) there are a number of commercial entities in the realm of IoT. Above figure provides you with a quick overview and a more detailed breakdown of IoT provider—from the infrastructure level over the data processing level to the application level—reads as follows (in alphabetic order within each level):

Naturally, the above listing is not exhaustive and also the three levels chosen here don't have clear-cut boundaries. Additionally, some of the players are active in more than one level, for example Cisco provides infrastructure components but also has offerings on the data processing level and equally Google has data processing offerings (such as BigQuery) as well as provide full-blown solutions (such as Nest).

IoT Standards, Anyone?

On Quora, I've been recently asked to answer Are we any closer to IOT standardisation? There, I argued that one part of the IoT (the 'I', as in Internet) is in fact already well standardized: there are a handful of standardization bodies, chiefly the IETF, whose RFCs pretty spec everything you need (RFC 791 - Internet Protocol, for example). Then there are emerging standards, , such as CoAP (think: constrained devices optimized HTTP) and other industry standards such as MQTT or ZigBee. Both traditional standardization bodies and organizations such as the IEEE have launched respective efforts to converge on a set of protocols and formats for the IoT. Last but not least, there are other cross-cutting aspects such as security that will have to be tackled appropriately in order to build up and maintain the trust in the target audience, be it developers or end-users. To be fair, most IoT systems nowadays have strong security awareness build in, however, there are always and will always be new challenges we need to be prepared for.


The IoT community at large is rather heterogeneous with a number of (industry-led) consortia that sometimes have overlapping goals and many of the above mentioned key providers are present in more than one. The most prominent IoT consortia at time of writing are:

What would a community be without events? Well, luckily there are plenty of them to choose from world-wide, such as the Internet Of Things World Forum. And then there is an emerging category of dedicated IoT bootcamps, focusing on start-ups.

With this, I'd like to thank you for tuning in again and close out with a heads-up for the next blog post where we will dive into IoT use cases and applications, more specifically into the exciting realm of the Smart Cities.