AWS IoT (Internet of Things): What is Amazon’s Role?

The potential benefits of the Internet of Things are matched only by its complexity and significant risks. How can the AWS IoT service make it all work?

There’s been a whole lot of attention focused on the Internet of Things (IoT) lately. Industry analysts are falling over each other with their projections of just how quickly and completely “everything” is going to change. We’re going to offer something of an introduction to the subject, with a particular focus on the role that Amazon’s AWS IoT service can play.

What is IoT (Internet of Things)?

You can think of the IoT (Internet of Things) as an ecosystem or an environment where everything around you – trees, cars, people – is a “thing”. What the IoT adds to all the “things” is digital interactivity. Sounds a bit crazy, right?

But this is just what things could look like in the very near future. IoT can take the Internet to a totally different level, where not only do web applications interact with each other (and with people), but with countless objects in the physical world. And when I say “physical world”, I mean just about everything that you can think of: machines, appliances, buildings, vehicles, medical devices, animals, plants…anything. So am I saying that all these will be connected via internet? Yes, actually. I am.

Now, to attach an object to the Internet, you need to give it a unique identity. Here, IPv6’s virtually unlimited supply of IP addresses can play a crucial role. We can now easily assign an IP address to every “thing” on the planet. Once an object has an identity, any built-in capacity to sense the world around it can be harnessed and quantified. Finally, things can be made to communicate with other things.

That, in very simple terms, is how the IoT can be structured. But is there a way to visualize the full impact it might have on the economy? Here’s a graphic representation of a Gartner report highlighting the value-added impact of the IoT. It’s simply staggering.

Internet of Things Value Add by 2020 Gartner

A few IoT use cases

The IoT can totally change the way we use so much of our world. It’s not possible to project even a tiny share of the creative uses engineers and technologists will dream up in the coming years, but here are some fairly obvious use cases:

  • Automatic re-routing of cars already in transit based on the traffic data received from sensors.
  • Smart controls over electricity based on ambient conditions. For example, inside lights could be dimmed in response to an especially bright sun shining outside outside (part of the infrastructure of a smart home).
  • Coordination between hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices based on health monitoring sensors.

And this is definitely only the very small tip of the iceberg.

The challenges of the IoT  (Internet of Things)

Until now, we’ve discussed the IoT’s WOW factor. But we must also consider the significant challenges that will accompany it. Here are a few that are worth considering:

  • True integration will require getting different kinds of objects to speak a single language. By “language”, I mean the way their data will be structured. For GPS-enabled tags on pet collars to talk usefully with, say, health department mobile tracking devices concerned with the spread of animal-borne disease, they will both have to use a common data format. Someone is going to have to impose that standard. And someone else is going to have to implement it.
  • Enabling secure communication between billions of devices in a way that also respects privacy rights is not going to be easy.
  • Implementation of an end to end IoT design will require environments capable of handling tools like machine learning, secure authentication, complex rule engines, and the processing of streaming data. And all at very great scale.

AWS IoT

I don’t mention these challenges just to be negative, but as a way of introducing the kinds of contributions AWS IoT can make.

Think about it: AWS is already in the business of providing a managed platform that can handle billions of securely connected devices. Because it rests on top of the Amazon ecosystem, AWS IoT can easily process trillions of messages and route those processed messages between AWS endpoints or other devices both reliably and securely. AWS Lambda, Kinesis, S3, Amazon Machine Learning, and DynamoDB already exist in mature, proven forms, and can be used to build IoT applications that gather, process, analyze, and react to data generated by connected devices.

In other words, the infrastructure and connectivity is already there. AWS IoT supports both HTTP and MQTT (a lightweight communication protocol).

Here’s an illustration of how the architecture of an IoT application might look with AWS IoT:

IoT application architecture
This shows you how the various elements of AWS IoT work together to create a full fledged IoT implementation, achieving significantly reduced overhead of management. See the AWS source documentation for greater detail.

If we wanted to briefly summarize the overall function of AWS IoT, we might say that it allows these three operational phases:

  • Connectivity between devices and the AWS cloud.
  • Processing of data sent from connected devices.
  • Application interaction with connected devices.

We can also say that AWS has gone a long way to address all the pain areas associated with developing and designing IoT applications. AWS provides:

  • Security.
  • Resource Management.
  • Integration.
  • Centralized management of unique identities.
  • Data processing using complex algorithms.
  • Reliable and standardized communication among various devices.

Things to know about AWS IoT

AWS IoT is currently available only in the following AWS Regions

  • US East (N. Virginia)
  • US West (Oregon)
  • EU (Ireland)
  • Asia Pacific (Tokyo)

You can manage AWS IoS through the AWS Management Console, the AWS SDKs, and the AWS CLI. AWS IoT APIs are also available to access the AWS IoT service.

With AWS IoT, you only pay for what you use and there are no minimum fees. Prices are based on the number of messages published to AWS IoT (Publishing Cost), and the number of messages delivered by AWS IoT to devices or applications (Delivery Cost). AWS IoT does not charge for deliveries to AWS services like S3, DynamoDB, Lambda, Kinesis, SNS, and SQS.

The AWS IoT free tier is designed to get you started, allowing you 250,000 free messages (published or delivered) per month, for twelve months.

Conclusion

This post was certainly not a complete guide, but I did try to introduce you to IoT in general, and at the same time draw attention to how cloud providers, like AWS IoT, can greatly ease implementation of real-world IoT projects.

Have you used AWS IoT yet? Why not share your experiences in the comments?

Avatar

Written by

Vineet Badola

Working as a cloud professional for last 6 years in various organizations, I have experience in three of the most popular cloud platforms, AWS IaaS, Microsoft Azure and Pivotal Cloud Foundry PaaS platform. Having around 10 years of IT experience in various roles and I take great interest in learning and sharing my knowledge on newer technologies. Wore many hats as developer, lead, architect in cloud technologies implementation. During Leisure time I enjoy good soothing music, playing TT and sweating out in Gym. I believe sharing knowledge is my way to make this world a better place.


Related Posts

Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross
— January 7, 2021

New Content: AWS Terraform, Java Programming Lab Challenges, Azure DP-900 & DP-300 Certification Exam Prep, Plus Plenty More Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Big Data Courses

This month our Content Team continues building the catalog of courses for everyone learning about AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure. In addition, this month’s updates include several Java programming lab challenges and a couple of courses on big data. In total, we released five new learning...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— December 17, 2020

Where Should You Be Focusing Your AWS Security Efforts?

Another day, another re:Invent session! This time I listened to Stephen Schmidt’s session, “AWS Security: Where we've been, where we're going.” Amongst covering the highlights of AWS security during 2020, a number of newly added AWS features/services were discussed, including: AWS Audit...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS re:Invent
  • cloud security
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— December 4, 2020

AWS re:Invent: 2020 Keynote Top Highlights and More

We’ve gotten through the first five days of the special all-virtual 2020 edition of AWS re:Invent. It’s always a really exciting time for practitioners in the field to see what features and services AWS has cooked up for the year ahead.  This year’s conference is a marathon and not a...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Glue Elastic Views
  • AWS re:Invent
Bryony Harrower
Bryony Harrower
— November 6, 2020

WARNING: Great Cloud Content Ahead

At Cloud Academy, content is at the heart of what we do. We work with the world’s leading cloud and operations teams to develop video courses and learning paths that accelerate teams and drive digital transformation. First and foremost, we listen to our customers’ needs and we stay ahea...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • GCP
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 25, 2020

Excelling in AWS, Azure, and Beyond – How Danut Prisacaru Prepares for the Future

Meet Danut Prisacaru. Danut has been a Software Architect for the past 10 years and has been involved in Software Engineering for 30 years. He’s passionate about software and learning, and jokes that coding is basically the only thing he can do well (!). We think his enthusiasm shines t...

Read more
  • AWS
  • careers
  • champions
  • upskilling
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 14, 2020

New Content: AWS Data Analytics – Specialty Certification, Azure AI-900 Certification, Plus New Learning Paths, Courses, Labs, and More

This month our Content Team released two big certification Learning Paths: the AWS Certified Data Analytics - Speciality, and the Azure AI Fundamentals AI-900. In total, we released four new Learning Paths, 16 courses, 24 assessments, and 11 labs.  New content on Cloud Academy At any ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 15, 2020

New Content: Azure DP-100 Certification, Alibaba Cloud Certified Associate Prep, 13 Security Labs, and Much More

This past month our Content Team served up a heaping spoonful of new and updated content. Not only did our experts release the brand new Azure DP-100 Certification Learning Path, but they also created 18 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At any time, y...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— August 28, 2020

AWS Certification Practice Exam: What to Expect from Test Questions

If you’re building applications on the AWS cloud or looking to get started in cloud computing, certification is a way to build deep knowledge in key services unique to the AWS platform. AWS currently offers 12 certifications that cover major cloud roles including Solutions Architect, De...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Patrick Navarro
Patrick Navarro
— August 25, 2020

Overcoming Unprecedented Business Challenges with AWS

From auto-scaling applications with high availability to video conferencing that’s used by everyone, every day —  cloud technology has never been more popular or in-demand. But what does this mean for experienced cloud professionals and the challenges they face as they carve out a new p...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud Adoption
  • digital transformation
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 18, 2020

Constant Content: Cloud Academy’s Q3 2020 Roadmap

Hello —  Andy Larkin here, VP of Content at Cloud Academy. I am pleased to release our roadmap for the next three months of 2020 — August through October. Let me walk you through the content we have planned for you and how this content can help you gain skills, get certified, and...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Content updates
  • DevOps
  • GCP
  • Google Cloud
  • New content
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 5, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure AZ-303 and AZ-304, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Foundation, Python 3 Programming, 16 Hands-on Labs, and Much More

This month our Content Team did an amazing job at publishing and updating a ton of new content. Not only did our experts release the brand new AZ-303 and AZ-304 Certification Learning Paths, but they also created 16 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 16, 2020

Blog Digest: Which Certifications Should I Get?, The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications, 6 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach, and More

This month, we were excited to announce that Cloud Academy was recognized in the G2 Summer 2020 reports! These reports highlight the top-rated solutions in the industry, as chosen by the source that matters most: customers. We're grateful to have been nominated as a High Performer in se...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs