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IoT: Understanding The Role of Middleware

The characteristics of the Internet of Things bring new challenges in developing applications which only appear in the environment of the Internet of Things. Some of the existing challenges are applicable in the context of IoT, however, the solutions for many of these seem inadequate for the IoT landscape.

One of the most discussed factor from the set of primary IoT challenges is the heterogeneous nature of components involved in IoT applications. The obvious solution suggested here is to define standards and expect everyone to comply. This sounds possible in theory, but in practice it’s difficult to implement in rapidly evolving technology like this.
In order to address these challenges, let’s highlight key requirements of IoT application development.

  • Bring heterogeneous components together`
  • Achieve seamless interoperability
  • Ensure operational transparency at application layer

Now if we look back and relate this situation with a scenario where different hardware platforms with different OS and networking protocols operate, we can observe similarity of this situation with problems that have been solved in the past.

Yes, similar challenges have been overcome in the past using the concept of middleware and it’s very well applicable in the context of IoT application development as well. By looking at trends and evolution in IoT application development platforms, middleware has gained its own importance.
In a nutshell, key characteristics of middleware are:

  • Provide a mechanism for communication between multiple platforms
  • Hide underlying dependencies like hardware platforms, operations systems and network protocols
  • Ensure portability
  • Make seamless integrations easy

In the context of IoT applications, there are multiple middleware options available. They can be mainly categorized into 3 types such as:

    • Platform Middleware, which covers
  • Runtime for hosting application components
  • Resource management services
  • Interface for communication middleware
    • Communication Middleware, which covers
  • System that supports protocols for communication between two points
  • Safe and reliable delivery of message
    • Data Management Middleware, which covers
  • Operations on remote database
  • Distributed and parallel file systems

Above categorization is based on the layer at which these platforms help integrate heterogeneous components in IoT world. The next question is how to choose the best-suited middleware in the lifecycle of an IoT application development. Stay tuned for the next blog to know more about the middleware selection criteria.

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