By now, it should be apparent to all managed service providers (MSPs) that the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a major opportunity to increase the size and scope of the portfolio of services they offer. Less clear, however, is what types of applications and platforms those MSPs might be asked to manage.

To provide some visibility into IoT environments, the Eclipse Foundation, which oversees a widely employed integrated development environment (IDE) and Jakarta EE, the next iteration of the Java programming language, has published the results of a survey of 1,717 developers. Two-thirds of these developers report that they are already building IoT applications.

The survey finds that the top three endpoint IoT platforms that these applications are being deployed on are all based on processors from Arm. At the IoT gateway level, Arm continues to dominate with 70 percent using gateways and edge nodes based on ARM variants, compared with 42 percent using gateways and edge nodes based on Intel processors.

In terms of software, the survey also finds that C dominated the programming language of choice for endpoint devices, while Java was most popular for gateways/edge nodes and IoT cloud. Of those surveyed, 45 percent said they were using the Eclipse IDE for their IoT development, while 32 percent said they were using Visual Studio from Microsoft. The top three IoT cloud platforms being employed by these developers are, not surprisingly, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

The most widely employed communications protocols for these applications are HTTP (49 percent), MQTT (42 percent), and Websockets (26 percent). The top three approaches to securing these applications rely on communication security (38 percent), data encryption (38 percent), and JSON Web Tokens (JWTs) (26 percent).

The survey also finds a lot of diversity in terms of how IoT applications are being employed, with IoT Cloud Platforms (34 percent), Home Automation (27 percent), and Industrial Automation / IIoT (26 percent) the top three areas of focus. The top IoT concerns developers have are ranked as security (38 percent), connectivity (21 percent), data collection and analysis (19 percent), performance (18 percent), privacy (18 percent), and standards (16 percent).

What this means for MSPs

Collectively, the survey makes it clear that IoT solutions will be among the most complex ever deployed. That’s generally good news for MSPs who tend to thrive the more complex any solution becomes. Most organizations are chronically short staffed when it comes IT expertise. The challenges associated with deploying what are likely to become among the most complex distributed computing applications ever built is only going to exacerbate that situation.

The one advantage internal IT teams will have is their knowledge of the vertical industry in which these applications are being deployed. If MSPs want to be relevant in the age of IoT, they need to become more familiar with the specific challenges associated with building, deploying, securing, and managing IoT applications in each industry.

Recognizing that requirement, savvy MSPs are already starting to recruit talent that have expertise in one of the many vertical industries rolling out various classes of IoT solutions. After all, technology is only one part of a complicated IoT equation. The hard part is going to be finding the people that intimately understand the processes that need to be automated. In fact, MSPs would be well advised to first assemble the right team of IoT experts before worrying about the nature of the applications and platforms that ultimately need to get managed.

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Photo: Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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