IoT adoption is one of the critical trends of business automation. More and more companies start to use it to achieve increased accessibility, scalability, and efficiency.
IoT hub makes these benefits even more significant. The solution can scale to millions of simultaneous devices connected to it. What’s more, it is hosted in the cloud and can be quite cost-efficient. Also, the IoT hub allows you to ensure a high level of security.
Why do you need the Internet of Things hub? What are the best practices of secure IoT hub development? And what tech skills do you need to develop an IoT hub? Let’s find out.
Why do businesses need IoT hubs?
Microsoft Azure defines an Internet of Things hub as a managed service that functions as a message hub between your IoT application and an IoT device. The service is needed for communication between the application and devices it manages.
IoT in general and IoT hub, in particular, are the technologies that companies can benefit from in terms of accessibility and security. What are other benefits that IoT hub can bring to your business?
Benefits of Internet of Things hub
IoT hub is a mediator between the cloud and connected devices. Thus, it can scale numerous connected devices and various events per second to support your IoT workloads.
Internet of Things Hub provides a secure communication channel for your devices to send data. Per-device authentication ensures that each device connects with the IoT hub securely and is managed securely. You have full control over device access and can manage connections at the per-device level.
Control over your devices
You can manage all your IoT Hub-connected devices with a range of built-in functionality. For instance, you can store, synchronize, and query device metadata and information on the state of each device.
You can also monitor the device performance (either per device or for all connected devices). If the state has changed compared to its normal characteristics, you get notifications. This, in turn, allows you to fix the failed device promptly.
Best practices of IoT hub development
Using data encryption protocols
Data encryption is critical. You can decode encrypted data only with a decryption key, which is granted to a limited number of users.
Let’s view some of the data encryption protocols in more detail:
- MQTT is a messaging protocol. The main benefit of this protocol is its lightweight architecture. As a result, it provides low power consumption of the connected devices;
- OPC UA is a protocol used mainly in manufacturing to communicate the plant data between control devices of different manufacturers;
- CoAP protocol translates the HTTP model so that it can be used in private network environments;
- LPWAN protocol allows long-range communication at a low bit rate among connected devices (e.g., sensors operated on a battery).
Using message brokers
A message broker is an architectural pattern that translates messages between formal messaging protocols. In other words, it allows communication between interdependent services, even if they are written in different languages or implemented on different platforms. When it comes to IoT hubs, message brokers are aimed at analyzing data received by the hub itself.
There are two ways of receiving data within the IoT hub: polling and notification system. Message brokers help with both of them.
In the first case, the message broker regularly (e.g., once a minute) assesses the physical performance of devices. For instance, when it comes to manufacturing equipment, the broker can check on machine temperature changes.
However, typically, it makes more sense to develop a notification or alarm system for such a solution. Thus, the broker monitors the state of connected devices but does not transfer them further if they are normal.
Let’s take the temperature of the machine as an example. The device should operate at a temperature no higher than 70 °C. If it rises, it can be a sign of malfunctioning. So, the broker sends the notification about a potential fault to the system that can address the problem.
You can go for custom solutions built specifically for your business or make use of out-of-box solutions and customize them according to your needs. However, the second option is 40% less expensive (according to MachNation), thus more popular among businesses.
Cloud vendors, including Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud, offer out-of-box IoT solutions.
Let’s view solutions that each vendor has to offer in more detail.
Azure Internet of Things hub
Azure Internet of Things Hub allows you to build IoT solutions with reliable and secure communications between IoT devices and your on-premises solutions.
Azure IoT hub is available with an Azure subscription. However, you can create up to 50 IoT hubs with one subscription due to Azure quota limits.
AWS IoT hub
Amazon offers an AWS IoT Core solution that allows you to connect any number of devices to the cloud and other devices. The solution supports the main encryption protocols, including MQTT, HTTPS, and others.
There are no limitations in terms of the number of connected devices with the AWS IoT hub.
Google Cloud IoT hub
Google has a solution called Cloud IoT Core that allows us to securely connect devices through protocol endpoints that use automatic load balancing and horizontal scaling. Google cloud Internet of Things hub automatically scales in response to real-time changes and complies with security protocols (specific for each industry) aimed to protect your data.
No matter if you choose to build your own IoT hub or customize the out-of-box solution, you need skilled developers that can perform this task. So, what skills are required when it comes to IoT hub development? Let’s find out.
Skills that developers need to develop IoT hub
Understanding of distributed systems
Professionals that develop IoT hub solutions should be familiar with the core principles of distributed systems. This system has numerous components located on different machines that communicate with each other and appears as a single coherent system to an end-user.
There are different types of such systems (client-server, three-tier, etc.). Each of them has a different architecture, thus requires different skills to build them.
Knowledge of protocols
Developers of IoT hubs should have a solid understanding of communication protocols between the connected devices. As we have already mentioned, protocols such as MQTT, HTTP, CoAP, OPC UA, are a must for IoT hub security.
When it comes to technologies needed for IoT hub development, we can distinguish between high-level and low-level technologies.
Web applications are written in high-level programming languages, such as Java and .NET. And embedded devices are programmed using low-level languages such as C and C++.
IoT solutions are now almost inseparable from cloud computing. Thus, your IoT hub developers need to have solid cloud skills to build an IoT hub.
Also, your IoT hub developers need big data and machine learning skills for alert system development.
Why choose N-iX to build your IoT hub?
- N-iX partners with global cloud vendors. The company is a certified AWS Select Consulting Partner, a Microsoft gold certified partner, and a Google Cloud Platform Partner;
- The vendor offers DevOps services, such as cloud adoption, building and streamlining CI/CD processes, security issues detection/prevention,firewall-as-a-service, and more;
- N-iX provides a wide range of IoT-related services, including IoT cloud services, IoT security, hardware design and prototyping, and many others.