Internet of Things: IP or Not
Rethinking the Internet of Things: A Scalable Approach to Connecting Everything (which BTW is free for the Kindle Edition) makes the case for a Non-IP (non Internet Protocol) stack approach for “things” to be connected. While I am in agreement in the author, the approach seems to be all or nothing – which is not true either. I feel that for constrained devices, that emit limited data and require low bandwidth – a non-IP approach makes sense. I am not entirely clear on how many of those billions of connected devices are really simple/constrained devices.
There would be three categories of “things” based on how they connect to the Internet:
1. Devices/Things that have the resources (CPU/Memory/Connectivity) to support and run the TCP/IP stack similar or identical to ones found in PCs/Macs/Tablets/Smartphones.
2. Simple, Standalone Devices or Things: More like sensors that have limited resources making it unsuitable even for running the constrained version of IP stack – 6LoWPAN and its variants – will need to support a connectivity protocol/stack that is ideal for the low bandwidth, long battery life requirements.
BTW these type of devices/things have been around for decades now – however getting them connected to the “Internet” allows making their data available, and hence unlocking the value.
3. Complex Devices/Things – These are hybrid of 1 and 2 that is they have their own “network” not based on IP – and may leverage connectivity/protocol specific to its industry or use case. And it has a integrated gateway or bridge that takes relevant data back and forth between IP and its internal Non-IP network. A great example of this is an Automobile (now popularly in the IoT vernacular being called “Connected Car”) – the automobile makes use of CAN Bus (since the 1980s). Autos are now connecting up to the Internet using Wi-Fi or 3G/LTE (or both), and they are building in functionality to go back and forth over an IP connection to the CAN Bus as well.