What role does Cumulocity play in the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things consists of two areas, one of which is the things – the individually connected devices, sensors and actuators. The other is the Internet, where the data is collated, stored, and processed. Cumulocity is the platform between the two. It bundles the data flows of things and enables users to draw conclusions from the data by means of, say, visualization. Developers can use the platform’s tools to build applications swiftly and simply.
You say “swiftly and simply” – what do you mean by that?
Development of Internet of Things applications has hitherto been a challenge because a large number of mostly heterogeneous devices, things, and data need to be managed. That leads to an infinite number of potential errors. The result is very long development project and, in the worst case, abandonment of the project.
Our platform reduces the complexity and the margin for error in the development process that goes with it. That saves time. Depending on the project, developers usually have the first executable version up and running in a few hours or at most a day or two.
For whom is Cumulocity intended?
We are specialized in small and midrange businesses. Jointly with Deutsche Telekom we offer SMBs an introductory package. It consists of a small workshop and a proof of concept in which the prototype is then tested as an end-to-end solution. That has been taken up very well.
We are now seeing initial successes amongst small and midrange engineering firms. By connecting their products they have changed their business model – from selling the product to a comprehensive service and support program. That used to be the sole preserve of large corporations. Today, thanks to the M2M Device Cloud, SMBs can also afford to provide it.
What prior knowledge do I need to be able to implement it?
In many cases no programming knowledge is needed to use the platform. Users can, for example, simply have the position data of a tracking device visualized on a map. Sensor-based application data can be shown as a graph. You can build your own application from plug-ins. Individual adaptation of the platform interface is comparably straightforward. Users can quickly click their own dashboard together by drag-and-drop.
In principle, however, the more complex the application, the more technical know-how is required to implement it. A middle way is, for instance, our rule language with which, in much the same way as formulas are defined in Excel, threshold values or automations can be configured.
What steps is Cumulocity planning for the future to assist solution providers in the development of applications?
In the future we will make plug-and-play integration of further devices easier. Users are to be able to operate the widest possible range of devices in a matter of minutes. We also encourage sharing in our community. If a developer has written a plug-in of his own he can make it available for others via the platform. In addition, we aim to further improve the visualization of data. Data is only of use for users once it can be portrayed in a way that is appropriate to the problem.
What role do standards play for a platform like Cumolocity?
We wish to see a plug-and-play standard for the Internet of Things. Users could then connect any device with every platform. Sadly, no such single standard exists at present. But even several standards would be of assistance to the market.
Do trends in that direction already exist?
In device management, OMA DM Lightweight seems to be establishing itself. In industrial automation, OPC UA is making great strides. We are following these closely and keep an eye on which standards are catching on and which are not.