IoT Thrives on AWS — re:Invent IoT Announcement Roundup

The Internet of Things (IoT) embeds technology into any physical thing to enable never before seen levels of connectivity. IoT is revolutionizing industries and creating many new market opportunities, with management consulting firm McKinsey predicting the IoT market reaching up to $581 billion of ICT spend alone in 2020. Cloud services play an important role in enabling deployment of IoT solutions that minimize time to market while integrating with other technologies (including artificial intelligence), and that’s where AWS fits in.

AWS re:Invent 2018 painted a clear picture on Tuesday with a flood of IoT announcements: AWS is committed to providing the best environment to support your IoT deployments. The announcements include several new services and important updates to existing services tools in the AWS IoT ecosystem. This blog digests everything and frames it in the context of AWS’ IoT offering.

AWS IoT Services before and after re:Invent 2018
AWS IoT Services before and after re:Invent 2018

The AWS IoT Ecosystem

AWS has been competing in the IoT market since 2015 when it announced its IoT core service. Quoting AWS:

AWS IoT Core is a platform that enables you to connect devices to AWS Services and other devices, secure data and interactions, process and act upon device data, and enable applications to interact with devices even when they are offline”

IoT Core is where it all began and many subsequently released IoT services are integrated with IoT Core. Try out AWS IoT Core for yourself in our Hands-on Lab that teaches you how to use IoT core to manage two virtual smart devices:

AWS IoT Core

The following table describes all of the AWS IoT services along with when they were released, including the recently announced services that will be described in more detail later:

Service Announced Purpose
IoT Core re:Invent Nov. 2015 Managed platform for connecting IoT devices
IoT Greengrass re:Invent Nov. 2016 Use AWS (e.g. Lambda) on IoT devices without internet connectivity
IoT 1-Click re:Invent Nov. 2017 Use simple devices to trigger Lambda functions
IoT Analytics re:Invent Nov. 2017 Cleanse, process, enrich, store, and analyze IoT data at scale
IoT Device Defender re:Invent Nov. 2017 Helps you secure your fleet of IoT devices
IoT Device Management re:Invent Nov. 2017 Securely onboard, organize, monitor, and remotely manage your IoT devices at scale
Amazon FreeRTOS re:Invent Nov. 2017 Real-time operating system to securely connect IoT devices to AWS cloud services
IoT Events New – re:Invent Nov. 2018 Easily detect and respond to events from IoT sensors and applications
IoT SiteWise New – re:Invent Nov. 2018 Easily collect and organize your data from industrial equipment at scale
IoT Things Graph New re:Invent Nov. 2018 Visually connect devices and web services to build IoT applications

re:Invent 2018 New IoT Services

There have been three new IoT services announced at re:Invent so far. Each one promises to simplify the way of doing things to further improve customers’ ability to quickly deploy enterprise-grade IoT solutions.

AWS IoT Events makes it easy to detect and respond to system-wide events without the need to build custom applications. The events are interpreted from patterns in the streams of sensor data coming from your fleet of devices. These events could indicate anything from equipment slowdowns to mechanical failures in an industrial setting. IoT events automatically triggers alerts and actions based on logic you define.

AWS IoT events
Source: https://aws.amazon.com/iot-events/

AWS IoT SiteWise removes the challenges associated with gathering and monitoring Industrial IoT (IIoT) data. Conventionally, industrial sensor data is locked into proprietary systems on-premises and requires expert knowledge to retrieve and format in a searchable format. IoT SiteWise is software that runs on a gateway in your facility and automatically collects, organizes, and sends it to the AWS Cloud where it can be stored and analyzed. The gateway interfaces with servers storing IIoT data that could be coming from assembly lines or manufacturing robots, for example. The gateway can be an AWS Snowball Edge gateway or one of several popular third-party industrial gateways that are likely to be found in your facility. IoT SiteWise lets you focus on optimizing your operations rather than worrying about data collection and managing applications.

AWS IoT sitewise
Source: https://aws.amazon.com/iot-sitewise/

AWS IoT Things Graph allows you to develop IoT applications using a visual drag-and-drop interface that connects devices and services together. IoT Things Graph uses reusable, pre-built models that expose underlying state of devices and services. This saves you from writing custom glue logic to make devices and services interact with one another given the lack of any widely adopted standards. You connect devices and services together to define multi-step automation applications. IoT Things Graph applications are deployed on IoT Greengrass-compatible devices. The number of pre-built models will grow over time and you are always able to define your own models when you need to.

AWS IoT graph

Related Announcements

In addition to the new IoT services, there were several re:Invent announcements improving existing IoT and IoT-related services.

To start, there were a cluster of AWS IoT Greengrass announcements. Greengrass extends AWS cloud services onto devices to run locally on devices that have sufficient compute power. The announcements included:

  • Connectors to connect to AWS services, on-prem services, or third-party applications without writing code
  • The ability to use hardware root of trust private key security storage as hardware security modules (HSMs) to improve your Greengrass deployment security posturing
  • New isolation configurations to run Greengrass in new scenarios, such as on devices without elevated privileges

AWS IoT Device Tester is a cross-platform test automation tool for IoT devices. With AWS IoT Device Tester, you can easily perform testing to determine if your devices will run AWS IoT Greengrass or Amazon FreeRTOS and interoperate with AWS IoT services.

Speaking of Amazon FreeRTOS, there was also some more love for it. You can now connect devices running Amazon FreeRTOS to AWS through local network Android and iOS devices over Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

Amazon Timestream is a new service that can be used with IoT data. As the name suggests, Timestream is a managed database service that is purpose-built for time-series data, just like the streams of data that IoT sensors report. By considering how fast time-series data arrives, AWS has created a database that is 1,000X faster than relational databases and is only 1/10th the cost.

AWS Timestream
Source: https://aws.amazon.com/timestream/

Wrap Up

re:Invent 2018 has been good to the IoT community. The new services all tend to focus on making it easier to achieve different IoT objectives. You may have struggled with achieving some of the objectives yourself or maybe you are pre-production and not sure what platform is going to be the best for your needs. One thing is for sure, AWS has shown their commitment to supporting IoT workloads for the year ahead and have earned your consideration for deploying your IoT solutions. If you’re interested in getting started, check out our introductory IoT and AWS IoT courses.

Are you at Amazon re:Invent this week? Visit Booth #1809 to chat with our team and see how we can transform your cloud training. 

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Written by

Logan Rakai

Logan has been involved in software development and research for over ten years, including four years in the cloud. At Cloud Academy, he is adding to the library of hands-on labs.

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