Making sense of data through an Internet of Things platform and cloud APIs

By Karin Kelley

The new era of IoT calls for smart mobile devices and other objects to be purpose-built to connect to the cloud. Organizations need to take new approaches to managing this hyper-connected landscape that generates massive amounts of data. Though the concept of IoT is pretty straightforward, the process of implementing it poses significant challenges. In order to gather actionable data and insights from multiple devices and applications, enterprises must have a unified and automated Internet of Things platform.

Since IoT data is by nature cloud-based, these disparate devices and software platforms need to be able to communicate over the network through intuitive APIs, specifically lightweight Web REST APIs. Without APIs, IoT and the data it generates are essentially useless.

These APIs must be secure, easy-to-use and interoperable with multiple devices and software programs. APIs must also be flexible in order to fully take advantage of the economies of scale that the cloud offers. Furthermore, APIs must be able to integrate with reporting and analytics tools to provide critical insights into the data that IoT generates.

API basics and IoT platforms

When developing an API management strategy for IoT platforms, enterprises need to address more than just the massive scale of the IoT. The first consideration should be the nature of the devices and the importance of the systems to which they are connected. It’s critical to understand how users are actually interacting with these devices and systems, particularly when they’re setting up access management policies. In addition, a strong API management strategy must consider the lifespan of the device or system to which the APIs are connected. In other words, if a device needs to be supported for 10 years, the API should be flexible enough to do so while adapting to any other technology changes that might affect the system as a whole.

Using APIs to integrate devices and data with critical business applications

When you take the proliferation of devices into consideration, it’s estimated that an average person may use several devices to access the Internet. These devices have different operating systems, and the applications they use vary from legacy systems to cloud and SaaS applications. Regardless, workers and customers alike are accessing critical business applications from these devices, and they need to be able to get to their data and applications on demand, seamlessly.

For example, sales workers on location need to have access to up-to-date product information, and they need to be able to tap into the organization’s legacy inventory and supply chain management applications to make the deal. This process requires an API that connects the device to the back-end system. Overall, APIs provide valuable insight regarding how users are interacting with devices and how the data those devices are generating allows enterprises to make better business and technical decisions going forward. This insight is extremely valuable for developers, IT departments and heads of business.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the IoT market is expected to hit $1.7 trillion by 2020. Without an Internet of Things platform and flexible, interoperable APIs, the data generated by devices, sensors and users would be useless. IoT platforms that use APIs to connect smart devices with critical software systems will provide organizations the flexibility they need to remain competitive in today’s marketplace.

Written By

Karin Kelley

Independent Analyst & Writer

Karin is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years…

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