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Amazon launched its AWS IoT services back in 2015 at its re:Invent developer conference. More recently, at the November 2017 re:Invent conference, Amazon launched several new IoT-related products and services, taking some big strides into this market.

IoT is one of the fastest-growing technologies, with IDC predicting IoT spending will reach $772 billion in 2018. As IoT spending increases, so will the number of connected devices, all of which will need to be managed. The cloud is Amazon’s solution to this management need. AWS is the leader in cloud computing, continuing to dominate the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) market with a steady upward growth trajectory and an estimated 35% of the market share.

A brief overview of the new products and services released at the 2017 AWS IoT launch can help businesses make sense of these new opportunities. Organizations can then determine which areas can bring the biggest benefit to their business and focus resources appropriately.

What is AWS IoT?

Before exploring the most recent AWS IoT launch, let’s take a step back and briefly discuss what AWS IoT is – a managed cloud platform that enables connected devices to interact with cloud applications and other devices in a secure and simple framework. AWS IoT provides secure, two-way communication between internet-connected things and the AWS cloud. These ‘things’ can be anything from smart appliances to sensors and embedded devices.

Telemetry data can then be collected from these devices, stored, and analyzed. Applications can also enable users to control these devices from their phones and/or tablets, which is becoming increasingly common with smart home features such as thermostats and alarm systems.

One of the great benefits of AWS IoT is that it speeds up IoT application development. Just how it does this will become clear as we look at the new products and services introduced at the AWS IoT November 2017 launch.

New AWS IoT services

Amazon launched six new AWS IoT services in November 2017, each with its own unique features and functionality. Below is a high-level overview of the main features of each service and the benefits each provides.

  1.    AWS IoT 1-Click
  • Enables the execution of a specific action on any connected device through an AWS Lambda trigger, which runs your code automatically in response to triggers
  • The device must be registered first
  • Once registered, built-in Lambda functions can be used or custom ones can be created

Key benefits of AWS IoT 1_Click:

  • Easy to create Lambda triggers
  • Single-click deployment
  • Easy management of simple devices

Check out this resource from Amazon to learn more about AWS IoT 1-Click.

  1.    AWS IoT Device Management
  • Provides a dashboard where customers can store, review, and manage devices
  • Able to store all types of device information, including serial numbers
  • Helps with troubleshooting issues on devices
  • Able to manage devices alone or as part of a larger group of devices

Key benefits of AWS IoT Device Management:

  • Manage large fleets of devices in the field
  • Manage permissions, so that devices remain secure
  • Fast onboarding and simple organization
  • Locate devices quickly, in real-time
  • Remote software updates keep fleets updated

To learn more about AWS IoT Device Management click here.

  1.    AWS IoT Device Defender
  • This is a security and compliance offering
  • Monitors device fleets to ensure they are up to date on any required policies
  • Generates proactive alerts if devices are not behaving as expected
  • Statistics and diagnostics are provided to assist with problem solving and troubleshooting

Key benefits of AWS IoT Device Defender:

  • Increases security of device fleets
  • Audits for security vulnerabilities
  • Proactively monitors for unexpected behavior

Consult this resource to learn more about AWS IoT Device Defender.

  1.    AWS IoT Analytics
  • A dedicated service to meet the data management needs of IoT. IoT generates a lot of data, and companies are left with the challenge of what to do with it and how to glean valuable information from it.
  • Tool provides advanced analysis of data gathered from IoT devices
  • Gathers and stores large volumes of data and runs queries against it
  • Adds a predictive element to data management via analytics, enabling businesses to plan maintenance on equipment before it actually breaks down, or to reach out to customers proactively if they are about to run out of a product

Key benefits of AWS IoT Analytics:

  • Predictive analysis
  • Ability to visualize the outputs through integration with Quicksight
  • Ability to find patterns in data
  • Data clean-up
  • Ability to include IoT metadata, such as device location or type
  • Can add in Machine Learning capabilities by integrating with Jupyter Notebook

Learn more about AWS IoT Analytics here.

  1.    Amazon FreeRTOS
  • An IoT microcontroller processing system that enables cloud connectivity for smaller devices not typically connected. Examples include smoke detectors and small appliances.
  • Extends FreeRTOS – a real-time OS – with libraries that enable local and cloud connectivity and security
  • Comes from a trusted software source

Key benefits of Amazon FreeRTOS:

  • Open source operating system for embedded devices
  • Based on the most popular real-time OS for microcontrollers and embedded systems, FreeRTOS has been in use over 10 years and has a broad base of engineers familiar with its capabilities.
  • Uses secure connections
  • Is easy to connect and manage low-power devices

Click here to learn more about Amazon FreeRTOS.

  1.    AWS Greengrass ML Inference
  • Enables developers to build and train Machine Learning (ML) models in the cloud
  • Models can then run locally without requiring cloud connectivity
  • The ability to run locally is useful for instances where internet (cloud) connectivity is sporadic
  • Devices can continue to report locally, with the data syncing when the cloud becomes available

Key benefits of AWS Greengrass ML Inference:

  • Easily transfers ML models to connected devices
  • Reduces cost, since inference is run locally rather than on the cloud, which means data is only sent to the cloud when additional processing is needed
  • Hardware accelerators are included to further speed up inference performance

More information on AWS Greengrass ML Inference is available here.

Is AWS IoT on the right track?

Given how recent the AWS IoT launch was, it is too early to predict how the new AWS IoT services will play out. However, there are definitely a few things Amazon is doing right as it expands into IoT. First, they are not reinventing the wheel. Amazon is leveraging technology that already exists and is working well, such as FreeRTOS. They are also adding device management features and a layer of security with Device Defender.

When we look at AWS IoT as a whole, Amazon is beginning to provide a more comprehensive set of solutions than what has previously been available for IoT. But time will tell how AWS IoT continues to grow and develop in the IoT market.

In the meantime, how do you know the best way to leverage AWS IoT within your enterprise? Three questions to consider are:

  1.    Do you want/need to process all of your data in the cloud?
  2.    Is your system ready to handle the influx of IoT data?
  3.    What piece(s) of AWS IoT are the smartest for you to experiment with first?

Working with a reputable IoT consulting company to receive proper guidance on answering these questions is the best approach for businesses that do not have the in-house skill set.

While Amazon AWS leads the cloud market, there is still no real clear winner in the larger IoT market. Nevertheless, the most recent AWS IoT launch makes it an exciting time for IoT application development with new tools available to achieve new advancement.