Amazon Web Services (AWS) has lifted the lid on AWS IoT, a new service designed to serve as the back end for applications involving the Internet of Things, collecting data from devices and sensors as well as serving as the control point and linking with other AWS services to store and analyse data.
Announced at Amazon’s AWS re:Invent user conference in Las Vegas, AWS IoT is currently offered as a beta for customers looking to begin developing an IoT application for collecting data from devices such as networks of sensors and monitoring and controlling everything from lighting to industrial machinery.
“This new managed cloud service provides the infrastructure that allows connected cars, factory floors, aircraft engines, sensor grids and the like (AWS IoT refers to them as ‘things’) to easily and securely interact with cloud services and with other devices, all at world-scale,” said chief evangelist Jeff Barr, writing on the AWS Official Blog..
“The connection to the cloud is fast and lightweight (MQTT or REST), making it a great fit for devices that have limited memory, processing power or battery life.”
AWS IoT enables devices to connect to the cloud and each other using its Device Gateway, and enables operators to set rules for how AWS IoT handles the data received, and actions to be taken when specific conditions are met, such as sending an alert when a pressure sensor reading hits a threshold value.
A key feature of AWS IoT is the concept of ‘Thing Shadows’, which are virtual representations of devices (‘things’) connected to the service. These basically hold the state information for each ‘thing’ so that it can be queried or updated by other applications and services at any time, even if the device itself may be offline because it is in a power-saving state or the network connection has been lost.
AWS IoT takes care of setting the correct state, sending only relevant changes to the device once it reconnects, according to Amazon.
Other features of AWS IoT include a Thing Registry, which assigns a unique identity to each device, integration with AWS Identity and Access Management to provide authentication before data is exchanged between devices and AWS IoT, and the IoT API.
As a cloud provider with a global footprint and massive compute and storage resources, AWS should be well placed to host the back-end services to drive the IoT, including analytics to process the collected data.
For organisations developing IoT infrastructure, a new AWS Hardware Partner Programme provides IoT Starter Kits from leading vendors, including Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, Mediatek, Microchip, Qualcomm, Renasas, SeedStudio and Texas Instruments. These offer development boards and the AWS IoT SDK to allow developers and manufacturers to rapidly prototype connected devices.
In a tangential move, Amazon also unveiled the beta of a new AWS Mobile Hub service for developing and operating mobile applications that make use of one or more AWS services.
This is intended to side-step the need for integrating and configuring services by letting developers add and configure features in apps, including user authentication, data storage, back-end logic, push notifications, content delivery and analytics, all from a single console, according to Amazon.