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Eclipse Backs Open Source For Internet Of Things

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Eclipse Foundation calls for the Internet of Things to be based on open source technology

The Eclipse Foundation is seeking to create a strong open-source developer community that is focused on the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things (IoT), which extends internet connectivity beyond traditional devices like desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and tablets to a diverse range of devices and everyday things that utilise embedded technology to communicate and interact with the external environment, opens up a world of new opportunity for developers. And Eclipse, the community for developers and organisations that want to collaborate on open source software, wants to help.

Building Blocks

“Our goal at Eclipse is to be the open source community that provides the basics technology building blocks for the Internet of Things,” Ian Skerrett, vice president of marketing and ecosystem at the Eclipse Foundation, told eWEEK. “We believe for the Internet of Things to be successful it needs to be based on open standards and open source. The current state of the IoT industry is a lot of proprietary vendors attempting to lock customers into their own solutions and protocols.”

Open Source © marekuliasz Shutterstock 2012Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich added: “We are certain that the Internet of Things will only be successful if it is built on open technologies. Our goal at Eclipse is to ensure that there is a vendor-neutral open source community to provide those technologies.”

Skerrett said Eclipse entered the IoT space at EclipseCon Europe 2012 in November of that year when the organisation announced the creation of the Eclipse M2M Working Group, with IBM, Sierra Wireless, Eurotech and Band XI teaming to launch a community for machine-to-machine (M2M) software development. The initial projects that made up the community were machine-to-machine connectivity efforts known as Paho, Mihini and Koneki. However, a lot has happened in 2013 and the vision of a vibrant Eclipse-based IoT open source community is becoming a reality, he said.

Last July, Skerrett spoke with eWEEK about the progress the foundation has made with its IoT efforts. “If there really is going to be an Internet of Things where all these different devices and things are talking to each other, there really needs to be some open standards in place,” he said. “We want to be the home for those standards.”

Eclipse M2M now has 13 projects focused on various aspects of M2M and IoT applications. Eclipse has open source implementations of all the major IoT standards being discussed, including Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), a proposed OASIS standard, and Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP). The Eclipse Paho project hosts the reference implementation of MQTT. Other implementations include those for Lightweight M2M and ETSI M2M.

MQTT is taking off as one of the most important protocols for building IoT and M2M applications, Skerrett noted. The MQTT specification is in the final drafts of becoming an OASIS standard.

“Eclipse Paho now has MQTT language bindings for Java, C, C++, Python, JavaScript, Lua, etc,” Skerrett said in his post. “Mosquitto, the most popular MQTT broker, is now an Eclipse project. And a large commercial ecosystem of companies embracing MQTT is emerging, including 2lemetry, Axeda, Eurotech, IBM, Sierra Wireless, HiveMQ, OpenSensors, etc. The advances of MQTT in 2013 confirm open standards and open source are a winning combination.”

Meanwhile, the Eclipse Foundation also increased its number of Java-based IoT projects. The foundation’s strategy for an open IoT community is to be language agnostic. Eclipse projects like Ponte, an M2M framework for REST developers, are written in JavaScript running on Node.js, Mihini is written in Lua, and Krikkit, a project to help developers program edge IoT devices, is written in C.

“When we started 2013 the absence of Java projects was noticeable,” Skerrett said. “However, in 2013 the number of Java projects introduced at Eclipse was very impressive. Kura, introduced by Eurotech, is a set of Java and OSGi services required for building M2M gateways. Eclipse SmartHome is a Java and OSGi framework for integrating home automation devices. OM2M is a Java implementation of the ETSI M2M standard. Californium is a CoAP framework written in Java. Java is going to be an important IoT language and Eclipse has great open source technology for Java IoT developers.”

Clearly, IoT is one of the major initiatives at Eclipse. The upcoming EclipseCon 2014 conference in San Francisco in March will feature IoT prominently, including an IoT/M2M day. This year, Skerrett said there are several things he would like to see accomplished in the Eclipse M2M/IoT community, including addressing the areas if huge data, more solution services, building up a community of peers, growing the user community and renaming the Eclipse M2M working group to the Eclipse IoT working group.

Skerrett said the amount of data now known as big data will be dwarfed by the data generated by IoT applications, which will call for open source projects to solve the data modeling, data visualisation, time series reporting and the management of huge data. Moreover, he said projects like Eclipse Smart Home and Eclipse SCADA provide an important set of services for specific vertical solutions and he hopes to see more open source projects for the industries, such as connected car, healthcare, and Industrial 4.0 projects.

SCADA is an acronym for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. Eclipse SCADA is an open-source implementation of a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system typically used to monitor and control large-scale industrial processes, such as solar farms.

“In 2013 we focused on recruiting projects,” Skerrett said. “In 2014 expect the user and adopter community for these projects to engage. IoT is hot so I expect a lot more users to join and interact with the community.”

However, “I am not going to say 2014 will be the year of IoT,” Skerrett said. “But there is definitely a lot of momentum and interest in IoT,” Skerrett said.

Yet there is still a lot of work left to be done before companies can get really get a return on their investment, he said.

“We need a lot of the key building blocks to create an inter-operable platform to run the Internet of Things,” he said. “We expect Eclipse will be an important part of that platform. If the IoT is going to be successful the industry needs to learn from the history of the Internet which is based on open source and open standards.”

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Originally published on eWeek.