10 Best IoT Platforms for 2021

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The rapid growth of the Internet of Things over recent years has brought countless examples of smart devices, cloud services, and applications to life. As their complexity increases, the need for IoT platforms   ̶  solution frameworks that streamline IoT application development   ̶  also grows. In their recent report, MarketsandMarkets estimated that the global IoT cloud platform market will grow from USD 6.4 billion in 2020 to USD 11.5 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.6% during the forecast period.

The number of IoT platform vendors shows similar dynamics; as estimated by Statista, there were about 620 publicly known IoT platforms in 2019, twice as many as in 2015. Big companies from different industries, such as Amazon, Bosch, and Deutsche Telekom, have joined the fray, all trying to increase their footprint in technology markets. However, a bigger vendor doesn’t always mean a better solution. When choosing the best IoT platform for your business, it is important to consider the total cost of ownership, usability, speed of implementation, etc. as much as strong feature sets. What is considered to be a great IoT platform, in general, may not be the best option for your case.

With that in mind, here’s a list of IoT platforms that have a strong value proposition and unique advantages that make them stand out among the competition.

Google Cloud IoT

Google has been perhaps the most dynamically growing cloud vendor, making a strong focus on modern analytics applications as well as cloud computing infrastructure. By expanding its data management capabilities into data pipeline automation, machine learning, and AI domains, Google laid a very strong foundation for its IoT platform offering called Google Cloud IoT.

Google Cloud IoT is basically an IoT solution built on top of the Google Cloud Platform. It provides a complete set of tools to connect, process, store, and analyze data both at the edge and in the cloud. It takes advantage of popular GCP cloud services, such as Cloud Dataflow and BigQuery, and provides an integrated software stack for edge or on-premises computing with machine learning capabilities for all your IoT needs. Furthermore, you can connect additional modules from GCP’s ecosystem to address practically any type of IoT use case.

On the flip side, as similar to other large vendor’s offerings, Google Cloud IoT is quite complex and lacks customization options, which may be a problem for fast-paced IoT projects and startups. It also requires strong expertise on the part of your software development team when it comes to effectively using Google’s cloud services related to IoT. As an alternative to in-house development, you can also rely on GCP partners, among which is CyberVision, which offers full-scale IoT development services.

Popular use cases and applications:

  • Predictive maintenance
  • Real-time asset tracking
  • Logistics and supply chain management
  • Smart buildings and cities

AWS IoT

Amazon remains a preferred cloud vendor for many companies, so it’s only natural for these companies to consider the AWS IoT solution as a logical next step in their digital transformation. Amazon’s AWS IoT advantage is its well-structured collection of IoT services that extend from cloud to edge and also include analytics services. Its other advantage is superior SLAs and performance on the AWS cloud infrastructure.

Similar to Google Cloud IoT, getting familiar with the platform will take time and training. The setup also involves knowing how to use the console, which is more targeted for software developers. There are several courses available on their website so make sure you study them when evaluating the platform. Just like in the case of Google, AWS IoT pricing is a combination of fees based on the number of connected devices, traffic, storage, and usage of external services from the AWS ecosystem.

Popular use cases and applications:

  • Predictive quality and maintenance
  • Remote operations monitoring
  • Connected home
  • Traffic monitoring
  • Public safety
  • Health monitoring

PTC ThingWorx

If your IoT use cases are closely connected to industrial automation, then ThingWorx IIoT platform  ̶ where IIoT stands for Industrial IoT  ̶ from PTC should definitely be on your list. Their solution is one of the most comprehensive for Industrial IoT implementation at scale, including some purpose-built solutions that complement its core IoT offerings, such as augmented reality and product lifecycle management platforms.

ThingWorx is probably not the platform for fast and easy smart metering implementation in your office building or setting up basic inventory tracking for your store. But, if you need to completely overhaul your business operations and set them on digital tracks, you can definitely count on ThingWorx. First and foremost, ThingWorx is an Industry 4.0 heavyweight champion, and by zeroing in on this specific business domain their platform knows little competition when it comes to full-scale Industrial IoT.

Popular use cases and applications:

  • Product as a service
  • Remote condition monitoring
  • Digital work instructions
  • Real-time visibility
  • Plant benchmarking

Kaa IoT Platform

Kaa aims to deliver a perfect offering when it comes to usability and speed of IoT implementation. It has a comprehensive set of IoT features, including onboard IoT analytics, and requires no other module integrations to address a typical end-to-end IoT use case, such as sensor monitoring, telemetry, or asset tracking. It requires no complex setup or even console knowledge, and is available in the cloud for a fixed fee depending on the number of connected devices. One of the platform’s distinct advantages is an unlimited free trial under which you are allowed to use up to 5 devices.

Kaa is a good example of an industry-agnostic IoT platform that is perfectly suitable for a large variety of IoT use cases that do not require in-depth domain expertise. Vendor services are available but the platform seems to make a specific focus on the ease of self-service and appeal among small startups as well as larger companies who are not ready for large-scale IoT disruptions yet.

Popular use cases and applications:

  • Automotive
  • Healthcare
  • Industrial IoT
  • Logistics
  • Smart retail
  • Telecom

Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom may have not been indicted to the IoT hall of fame just yet, but with its Cloud of Things platform, this German giant is among the top contenders for 2021. There are several reasons why you should consider this company as an IoT solution vendor or partner. First, as a Telecom company, they are valid experts in IoT connectivity, especially mobile IoT. With the advent of 5G, this expertise and the ability to upgrade quickly to new standards may be decisive for numerous IoT use cases, such as automotive, telecom, smart city, etc. They also offer complete solutions for NarrowBand IoT, which has numerous applications.

Second, their Cloud of Things platform seems to offer a great balance of a rich feature set and usability. Their solution offers greater customization options than some other premium vendor platforms; it makes a specific emphasis on a streamlined development experience with an intuitive interface and fast prototyping, even with no previous programming experience; it also provides a convenient IoT solution builder online as one of the many details showcasing its customer-first approach to IoT development.

Finally, Deutsche Telekom recently unveiled its ambitious plans to further simplify the complexity of the IoT solution development by moving towards an “open” IoT platform, named IoT Hub, which connects numerous IoT vendors under an IoT solution marketplace. This new IoT environment should bring together diverse software and hardware solutions essential to IoT implementation: connectivity, devices, cloud services, and data analysis tools. Deutsche Telekom is thus looking to become not just another IoT solution vendor but the Alibaba of the IoT world.

Popular use cases and applications:

  • Transport and Logistics
  • Automotive
  • Retail
  • Production
  • Public sector

Salesforce

Salesforce came back into the limelight upon the recent news of the company’s outstanding performance in Q2 2020. And even though their Salesforce IoT solution pales in comparison to the flagship CRM product, it is this unique combination of CRM and IoT that places Salesforce on our list.

It is common to think of IoT as the technology for remote device monitoring and control, and thus, to totally overlook its huge potential in building stronger relationships with the customer. Insights gathered via IoT solutions can be used to deliver more targeted and personalized services to the customer, driving greater satisfaction and loyalty. That’s where Salesforce IoT holds its value proposition.

Salesforce IoT enables non-technical CRM users to continuously enrich customer data with the information gathered from connected sensors, devices, and services. It basically bridges the gap between product development, sales, and customer management. For example, product managers can identify user preferences to improve their product offerings or analyze the usage context for new services. If extending standard IoT use cases to data-driven customer management and better customer service is something you’ve been looking for, Salesforce IoT should be the first platform to check out.

Cisco IoT Networking and Edge Intelligence

When it comes to networking, connectivity, and device security, Cisco has always been a globally recognized trailblazer. Now the company claims market leadership with its IoT industrial networking and edge intelligence solutions designed for low-latency, high-security applications in the industrial sector. As a trusted hardware provider, Cisco offers comprehensive solutions and automation tools for IoT device management and edge analytics. Why is this important?

With the growing complexity of industrial applications, the edge device infrastructure will be required to take on more data processing capabilities and optimize edge-to-cloud workloads. For these applications, an IoT platform should be implemented in parallel with modern networking infrastructure and hardware. And that’s where Cisco’s end-to-end approach to building edge-to-cloud IoT solutions makes it one of the best IoT platform vendors for 2021.

Popular use cases and applications:

  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation
  • Smart cities
  • Utilities

Microsoft Azure IoT

Microsoft is one of those boring premium vendors who do almost everything just right, with one notable exception being them dropping the ball with Windows Mobile OS. But when it comes to their Azure suite, it’s definitely second to none. It can be summarized through one quote from the company’s website: “No matter your industry or the size of your organization, or whether you’re working with a partner or on your own, Azure IoT has all of the devices, tools, data analytics, and security capabilities you need to achieve your IoT goals.”

However, just like in the case of Google and AWS, Azure IoT consists of multiple components and requires some experienced engineers to configure it for your company’s needs. If you’ve never used the Azure stack before, it might be far easier to go with the implementation services from one of the Azure IoT integrators.

Popular use cases and applications:

  • Automotive
  • Energy
  • Discrete manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Process manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Transportation and logistics

Radix IoT

Radix IoT may be a new kid on the block but it is the one to be watched very closely in 2021. It is built on the synergy of Mango IoT Platform and BitBox USA IoT Platform and claims to be “profoundly simple” – meaning turnkey software and hardware solutions without the need for complex IoT development. Radix IoT also features a line-up of IoT gateways, addressing small as well as large-scale IoT applications.

Radix IoT feature highlights:

  • Built-in protocols: BACnet, Modbus, MQTT, SNMP, DNP3, SQL, CSV Files, HTTP, and more
  • Customizable to your needs: allows creating custom user interfaces
  • Built-in analytics: alarms, events, trends, etc.
  • Reporting
  • Rule-based scheduling

Popular use cases and applications:

  • Edge device monitoring
  • Telecom
  • Industrial automation
  • Property management

GE Predix

GE Predix is nothing short of a complete solution for industrial data monitoring and event management. Understanding manufacturing operations like no one else, GE delivers centralized visibility, augmented analytics, and analysis capabilities for monitoring, exception handling, and decisions on a single platform. 

Typical use cases include:

  • Centralized asset and process visibility
  • Condition-based monitoring
  • Remote HMI monitoring and support
  • Cross-plant dashboards
  • OEM fleet monitoring and service

Just like other premium Industrial IoT solution providers, GE Predix offers edge-to-cloud capabilities with full-scale asset management, analytics, and advanced security capabilities. A separate module called Predix Edge provides edge computing capabilities.

How to Choose the Best IoT Platform

Sharing a lot of similarities with each other, IoT platforms still differ dramatically by their end-user profile. That’s why choosing the best IoT platform for your specific case will depend on your use case, the size of your development team, and your budget. Complex solutions from premium vendors cost more and are harder to maintain but deliver greater capabilities, broader solution ecosystems, and top-notch SLAs. “Fast-service” IoT platforms, on the other hand, offer simple start-up and faster time-to-market but may lack the industry-specific capabilities required by advanced IoT use cases.

As a company with a rich portfolio of accomplished IoT projects, CyberVision can help your team with IoT development, building a custom-tailored solution, or creating applications on top of popular IoT platforms. 

This UrIoTNews article is syndicated fromDzone