Just a few weeks ago, my colleague Stacey Higginbotham covered an interesting Spanish outfit called Carriots that’s building a platform-as-a-service (Paas) geared specifically towards the internet of things (IoT). As with other startups such as Electric Imp, the aim here is to make it super-simple for developers of connected devices and the services around them to, well, connect those devices. It’s a lot easier to innovate on top of an established platform than to rebuild the fundamentals each and every time.
Well, those startups now have seriously heavyweight competition in the form of LogMeIn, the remote connectivity specialist, and ARM, the British firm whose low-power chip designs underpin the vast majority of mobile devices, and which is now competing with Intel to own the IoT space.
LogMeIn has just launched its own PaaS for the internet of things, calling it Xively (the beta version was known as Cosm). And developers wanting to start creating connected devices on this platform are being offered the Xively Jumpstart Kit, which combines Xively with ARM’s mbed platform, for building devices using ARM’s microcontrollers. With this kit, the companies promise, developers can “rapidly progress from prototyping to volume deployment”.
Xively is based on LogMeIn’s Gravity infrastructure – the same one used to support the company’s cloud storage offering, Cubby — and it comes with development tools for writing and prototyping services, a provisioning engine for deployment and a scalable management console. It supports real-time messaging and directory and data services, as well as analytics, and it uses a “pay-as-you-grow” pricing model that should make the platform attractive to startups.
The directory services extend to a “commons” named the Xively Connected Object Cloud, through which different companies’ devices can interconnect. According to LogMeIn, a “fundamental philosophy” baked into the Xively terms of service states that “customers own their data and can choose whether or not to share all, part, or none [of] it.”
A showcase page for the platform shows early projects built on Xively that include the Visualight smart lightbulb and even some of the post-Fukushima crowdsourced radiation-monitoring efforts (which used an earlier iteration of the platform, called Pachube at the time).
While the Xively Jumpstart Kit should help inventors and developers gravitate in ARM’s direction, it’s not like Intel is sleeping. Intel said in February that its own Intelligent Systems Framework – a set of specifications for connecting, managing and securing IoT devices – had been used to support more than 50 products. The company also released new software tools for, you guessed it, reducing time to market.
Although ARM does benefit from a much broader ecosystem than Intel, it’s too early to call that race. However, those startups trying to build their own PaaSes for the internet of things had better get a move on. LogMeIn’s offering is already pretty mature for this space and, given the momentum rapidly building behind the IoT movement, its timing is exquisite.
(Incidentally, the internet of things is a subject that will be discussed at our Structure 2013 event in San Francisco on 19-20 June, so be there.)