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Internet of Things: Major players agree on goals, but little else

Everyone loves those Things, just not on each others' terms

Wait a minute – so we all want the same thing, then?

One other point on which both men agreed is that however the Internet of Things emerges, much like cloud computing today, it will be primarily driven by open source software, and Linux in particular.

"In my company," Cisco's Enescu said, "I believe 80 per cent of our revenue is based on products and services shipped w/Linux and I believe that number not going down, the number is going to go up."

So that wasn't so hard, then, was it? Both Cisco and Intel agree that IoT is about device intelligence and connectivity, that it's not going to be able to rely on the cloud alone for computation, and what emerges to power the IoT will be based on Linux and open source. Shouldn't we all be able to move forward from here, now that we've got the vision nailed down?

Not so fast. Because for all the ideas that Enescu and Hohndel share in common, their respective companies disagree very much when it comes to next steps.

Intel's Hohndel spent part of his keynote presentation plugging the Open Interconnect Consortium – the industry group that Chipzilla founded in July along with Atmel, Broadcom, Dell, Samsung, and Wind River – the goal of which he said was to do IoT "the right way."

"Let's not add, to the 50 standards that are out there," Hohndel said, "yet another one that is once again just our way of doing thing and trying to get people to do it with our technology and our tools, but let's create a truly open standard."

The trouble is, the Open Interconnect Consortium isn't the only such group in the industry, nor even the largest one. Although Enescu didn't mention it in his keynote, Cisco has signed up with the AllSeen Alliance, a Linux Foundation–backed association that's building an open source IoT interoperability framework using code originally developed by Qualcomm.

The AllSeen Alliance now claims more than 60 member companies, including such prominent premier members as LG, Microsoft, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, and Technicolor. And yet none of its members are also members of the Open Interconnect Consortium – or vice versa.

Both groups have their reasons why the other's approach won't work. The Open Interconnect Consortium says the AllSeen Alliance has code, but no clear standard to base it on. The AllSeen Alliance, meanwhile, says it has already released two versions of its code, while the OIC hasn't had anything to show so far.

And then there are Apple and Google, both of which seem determined to go their own ways with HomeKit and Nest, respectively.

It seems that while almost everybody seems to agree – once you drop the marketing doggerel – that what's needed is a common, standard way for IoT devices to communicate and interoperate that's based on open source, the one thing that won't happen is for all the major vendors involved to interconnect at the same table. And that is truly ironic. ®

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