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Comparing IoT services: AWS vs Google vs IBM vs Microsoft

Comparison of IoT platforms

Internet of things (IoT) is, perhaps, one of the fastest growing modern technologies today. It is proving to be a revolutionary technology, opening a new world of innovation and possibilities that were unimaginable a generation ago.

The rapid development of IoT has connected almost everything to the internet. Today, the devices, appliances, and infrastructure can be controlled from anywhere by just using electronic devices.

What is Internet of Things (IoT)?

Simply put, IoT is the technology that connects ‘things’ to the ‘internet’. These things or devices can be anything from smartphones, washing machines, lamps, refrigerators, headphones, air conditioners, and almost everything that you can think of. IoT services can also be applied to machines, like jet engines in airplanes.

Analyst firm Gartner predicts that there will be more than $20 billion connected devices all over the world by 2020. This shows a very high growth in the number of IoT devices in the coming years, which will impact the way humans live and the way they work.

IoT development

With a rise in the number of connected devices and their applications, the demand for IoT developers is increasing. The devices and infrastructure powered by IoT help in reducing the costs and enable new business models.

The most exciting IoT projects that are currently in high demand include smart homes, smart buildings, smart infrastructure, smart retail, self-driving vehicles, etc.

To develop an IoT project, the developers need to use IoT SDKs or IoT software development kits. These SDKs enable them to write a program for connected devices and add the required features to them.

Since there are several IoT cloud platforms out there, the developers sometimes find it difficult to choose the best IoT platform for the specific task in hand. To help you find the best IoT services’ provider in the market, we have compared the top IoT services, which will narrow your search.

Comparison of top IoT platforms

1. Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the public cloud leader, has been putting a lot of efforts into cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and IoT for a long time now. It provides IoT services through its AWS IoT platform, which comes with a broad set of tools.

  • AWS IoT

AWS IoT offers a comprehensive set of IoT solutions that span edge to the cloud, allowing developers to build IoT applications for most of the use cases across a broad range of devices. These solutions can include local data collection and analysis, devices, and cloud services to store and analyze device data.

AWS IoT solutions are targeted for both – edge software and cloud services. Edge software allows developers to connect devices, collect data, and make intelligent decisions even when there is no internet connection. Whereas, the cloud services enable them to securely connect a group of devices, maintain their health, keep them secure, and detect, and respond to actions across IoT apps and sensors.

The public cloud giant has built its IoT platform on AWS cloud which is used across 190 countries. For smoother and faster development of IoT applications, the platform allows developers to connect devices and web services using a simple drag-and-drop interface.

To build smarter and intelligent IoT applications, the AWS IoT brings together AI and IoT. It helps in analyzing data and develop classy machine learning models.

On the security front, AWS IoT comes with preventative security mechanisms like device identity and authentication, encryption, and access control to device data.

Additionally, it provides a service that allows rapid monitoring and auditing of security configurations. It helps in complying the IoT apps with security best practices.

AWS IoT edge software

Edge computing brings the power of computing close or near to the source of data generation, rather than depending on a centralized cloud for data processing. AWS IoT provides two solutions for edge computing-

  • Amazon FreeRTOS
  • AWS IoT Greengrass

AWS IoT cloud services

To securely connect IoT devices with cloud applications and other devices, AWS IoT provides a number of cloud services. These include-

  • AWS IoT Core
  • AWS IoT Device Management
  • AWS IoT Device Defender
  • AWS IoT Things Graph
  • AWS IoT Analytics
  • AWS IoT SiteWise
  • AWS IoT Events

Pricing (AWS IoT Core):

  • CONNECTIVITY

Connectivity Pricing (per million minutes of connection)$0.080
 

  • MESSAGING
Messaging Pricing (per million messages)
Monthly Message VolumePricing
Up to 1 billion messages$1.00
Next 4 billion messages$0.80
Over 5 billion messages$0.70
*Messages are measured in 5 KB increments.
  • DEVICE SHADOW & REGISTRY
Device Shadow and Registry Pricing (per million operations)$1.25
*Device Shadow and Registry operations are measured in 1 KB increments of the Device Shadow or Registry record size.
  • RULES ENGINE
Rules Engine Pricing (per million rules triggered / per million actions executed)
Rules triggered$0.15
Actions executed$0.15
  • AWS IoT Core free tier
Connectivity2,250,000 minutes of connection
Messaging500,000 messages
Device Shadow and Registry Pricing225,000 Registry or Device Shadow operations
Rules Engine250,000 rules triggered, and 250,000 actions executed

Note: The pricing of AWS IoT varies according to regions. For this comparison, US pricing has been used.

Suggested reading: 10 most strategic IoT technologies and trends that will drive business innovation

2. Google

Google is among the top IoT platform providers around the world, making it easier for developers to build connected devices. The search engine giant provides Cloud IoT Core as its flagship IoT solution for creating secure and innovative solutions.

  • Cloud IoT Core

Cloud IoT Core

Image source: Google

Google’s Cloud IoT Core is a managed solution to connect, manage, and consume data from numerous connected devices. It offers a complete solution to developers, allowing them to collect, process, analyze, and visualize IoT data in real time for supporting better operational efficiency.

Cloud IoT Core comes integrated with Google Cloud data analytics services. It enables the use of IoT data stream for advanced analytics, visualizations, machine learning, etc. As a result, it becomes easier to anticipate problems, improve efficiency, and develop rich models that can optimize business processes.

Cloud IoT Core

Image source: Google

Further, this service supports standard protocols like MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) and HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). This allows developers to use their existing devices with minimal firmware changes.

Since Cloud IoT Core runs on the serverless infrastructure of Google, it scales automatically in real time when any changes are made.

Additionally, Cloud IoT Core comes with Cloud IoT provisioning service to simplify the provisioning of devices and onboarding experience for customers and OEMs. For provisioning, it leverages tamper-resistant hardware-based security so that millions of devices can be provisioned without human intervention.

Features of Cloud IoT Core

There are two main features of Cloud IoT Core: a device manager and a protocol bridge.

  • Device Manager

It allows configuration and management of individual connected devices in a secure and coarse-grained manner. The device manager identifies the device and offers a mechanism to authenticate it during connectivity. Users can use the device manager to remotely control the device from the cloud.

  • Protocol bridge

The role of the protocol bridge is to provide connection endpoints for protocols and automate load balancing for all the connections. With native support for MQTT and HTTP, it publishes the telemetry of the device to Cloud Pub/Sub.

Pricing (Cloud IoT Core):

TierPriceData Volume (Per month)
Free$0.00First 250MB
$0.0045 per MB 250MB to 250GB
Standard$0.0020 per MB250GB to 5TB
$0.00045 per MB5TB and above
 

Suggested reading: Comparing fog computing with edge computing

3. IBM

IBM has been positioned as a leader in The Forrester Wave: Industrial IoT Software Platforms, Q3 2018. This is enough to justify why IBM is counted among the top IoT services providers.

IoT Software platforms

Image source: Forrester

IBM Watson IoT Platform

It is a managed service hosted on the cloud, enabling secure connection, management, and processing of IoT data. Along with the power of IoT, the IBM Watson IoT Platform leverages technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to allow enterprises to capture data from devices, equipment, and machines. They can further use this data to gain insights and make better business decisions.

IBM Watson IoT platform

Image source: IBM

Built on IBM Cloud, the Watson IoT Platform is a scalable IoT service that can adapt in no time when a business needs grow. It uses AI for data analytics so that the data from IoT devices can be processed instantly, and enterprises can gain valuable insights from it. It uses blockchain to enable sharing of secure information across the ecosystem. Implementation of blockchain technology increases trust and transparency by validating provenance and events in an immutable ledger.

Suggested reading: IBM predicts five technologies will change the way the world works by 2023

Several companies use IBM Watson IoT Platform to power their devices, appliances, and machines. For instance, Whirlpool is using the solution for its home appliances, including washing machines, dishwashers, and ovens.

IBM Watson IoT Platform is available in three editions:

  • IoT Platform – Connection Service: It is a pre-integrated ready to use IoT service to quickly kickstart.
  • IoT Platform – Analytics Service: For gaining insights in real time with simplified data ingestion and curation.
  • IoT Platform – Blockchain Service: A solution to integrate connected devices with the blockchain-powered business ecosystem.

Pricing (IBM Watson IoT Platform):

EditionPricing (per instance per month)
Connection ServiceStarting at $500
Analytics ServiceStarting at $300
Blockchain ServiceStarting at $200

4. Microsoft

Microsoft is also a leader in the Forrester’s Industrial IoT Software Platforms, as can be seen in the image above. With its IoT services, the tech giant aims to drive digital transformation across all industries, including manufacturing, transportation, and retail.

Microsoft IoT services help enterprises to gain insights from connected devices and turn these insights into action. The company has products and software development kits (SDKs) in place to meet the need of every individual, developer, and enterprise.

Microsoft IoT

Image source: Microsoft

Also, the tech giant is planning to invest over $5 billion in IoT over the next four years with a goal to drive business and world transformation with connected solutions.

IoT solutions provide operational efficiencies, but Microsoft’s investment in IoT underscores the fact that the impact of IoT extends well beyond commercial sphere and can better the human lives, by fulfilling basic life needs with predictive healthcare, safety while on job or traveling, electricity and more.

For building IoT projects, Microsoft provides a number of top IoT development services for every use case. Below is the description and pricing of Azure IoT services.

  • Azure IoT Hub

Azure IoT Hub is an ideal service for those looking to securely connect, monitor and manage billions of IoT assets. It is an open and flexible cloud PaaS (platform as a service) that comes with support for open source SDKs and protocols.

The users of Azure IoT Hub can easily understand the state of their devices using device-to-cloud telemetry data and set the message routes to other Azure services, without any coding. Also, commands and notifications can be sent from a device to the cloud, with tracking of message delivery.

Pricing (Azure IoT Hub):

  • Basic Tier
Edition TypePrice Per Unit (Per month)No. of Messages/Day Per UnitMessage Meter Size
B1$10400k4 KB
B2$506 million4 KB
B3$500300 million4 KB
  • Standard Tier
Edition TypePrice Per Unit (Per month)No. of Messages/Day Per UnitMessage Meter Size
FreeFree8k0.5 KB
S1$25400k4 KB
S2$2506 million4 KB
S3$2500300 million4 KB
  • Azure IoT Central

Azure IoT Central is built on the enterprise-grade Azure services that allow integration with existing business processes and systems.

It is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) for IoT and is a fully managed solution. What this means is that even the users without any coding or development skills can build production-grade IoT applications. This makes Azure IoT Central one of the best platforms for IoT development.

Pricing (Azure IoT Central):

 MessagesPricing
Per Device Pricing0 - 5Free
6 - 1,000$2.0 per device/month
1,001 - 10,000$1.5 per device/month
10,001 - 1,00,000$1.0 per device/month
1,00,001+$0.5 per device/month
Additional Message Pricingper 1M messages$5
* Each Device comes with 50,000 included messages per month.
* The maximum message size is 1 KB. For example, if the device sends a 4.5 KB message it will be billed as 5 messages.
  • Azure IoT Edge

Azure IoT Edge is a fully managed service that deploys and runs artificial intelligence, Azure services, and custom logic right on edge devices.

IoT Edge is targeted for edge computing, as the data from edge devices need to be computed locally at the device itself, or it will become useless. This service provides the lowest latency possible between the data and the decision.

It also allows containerization of Azure Cognitive Services, Machine Learning, Stream Analytics, and Functions, and then run them locally on devices from a Raspberry Pi. The management of edge devices and applications can be done using Azure IoT Hub.

Pricing (Azure IoT Edge):

Azure IoT Edge is a free service, but to securely manage connected devices, it requires Azure IoT Hub.

Suggested reading: Top 4 AI engines to look out for in 2019

Wrapping up:

The IoT market will continue to grow over the years, and demand for IoT developers and IoT development services will also rise.

With various IoT technologies and platforms available out there to build IoT projects, it can become complex for developers and enterprises to find the right one.  We have compared the top IoT services (AWS vs Google vs IBM vs Microsoft) to make things easier for them.

If you are already using an IoT platform, please let us know your reviews in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general information purpose only. Product features are subject to change. This information has been sourced from the websites and relevant resources available in the public domain of the named vendors as on 19th November, 2019. Wire19 makes best endeavors to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date, however, it does not warrant or guarantee that anything written here is 100% accurate, timely, or relevant to the website visitors.

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