Arise (yet another) IoT platform

The Internet of Things (IoT) is heralded as the biggest technology development since the invention of the wheel. Perhaps unsurprisingly, every man and his dog are therefore rushing to deliver solutions that solve IoT-specific problems.

Internet of Things IoT platform

Real-Time Innovations (RTI) is an almost-25-year-old vendor of messaging software. While somewhat unknown to the outside world, RTI and companies like it provide the critical tools that help industrial systems work: air and missile defense, science, industrial SCADA, air traffic control. These are just some examples of the sort of use cases that solutions from RTI helps with.

But these sorts of industrial use cases - while critical and lucrative - don't have the sort of buzzword excitement that IoT does. So if you're RTI, it's important to come out swinging with some messaging that shows you're well and truly up with the cool kids. And so we have an announcement from RTI about a new unified platform focused on data distribution and cloud analytics. That's a mouthful and a half, so what is really going on here?

The new RTI platform, Connext DDS 5.2, focuses specifically on application-to-application data exchange both in the cloud and at the network edge. It addresses the plumbing around having these distributed devices work - load balancing, transaction processing, and the like. This sort of functionality is critical since IoT vendors are focused on two sides of the equation: the end sensors/devices and the analytics that can be applied on top of the data those sensors/devices generate. RTI focuses on all the stuff in between.

Connext DDS now supports all of the different communication patterns used in the IoT: publish/subscribe for distributing streaming data and asynchronous events, request/reply for controlling and managing devices, and queuing for scalable processing. The general approach to these problem areas has typically been to adopt different technologies and protocols for each of these instances. Connext wants to resolve that via an end-to-end connectivity solution.

On top of the communication protocol functionality, RTI also covers off some additional features, namely:

  • Visualization of data being distributed to improve insight into distributed system behavior and ease debugging.
  • New C++ API which leverages modern language features to simplify development and improve source code readability.
  • 18 new supported platforms, expanding coverage of IT, mobile, and embedded operating systems and CPUs.

“As adoption of the Industrial Internet continues to grow, more companies are looking for ways to introduce new services and products while transitioning their existing systems to handle the scale, reliability, and performance requirements of the Industrial IoT,” said David Barnett, VP of Products and Markets at RTI. “RTI is making this much easier with the release of Connext DDS 5.2. Companies can now leverage one unified solution for their Industrial IoT connectivity requirements. RTI is proud to be a leader in the industry and continue to support our customers with all of their intelligent IoT applications.”

In terms of pricing, RTI is available as a platform for an annual fee, starting at just shy of $10,000.


Clearly, the communication channels, protocols and associated functionality needed to run IoT projects is critical. It goes without saying, but in the absence of robust platforms to handle these problems, the IoT will fail. It's like imagining the World Wide Web without the Internet. It simply doesn't work.

The question here is how many different solutions and platforms the market can support, or whether, like the Internet, there is a need for a communication fabric that is above any one vendor. There are a number of other solutions trying to do the same thing: Ayla, Jasper, Snap, for example. Indeed, a young startup called Octoblu that was recently acquired by Citrix was in the same general space.

It would be easy to criticize this as being a case of RTI jumping on a buzzword bandwagon, but the fact is that distributed device communications is a hard problem to solve. RTI has a pedigree in the space and that knowledge and experience will be a useful addition to the IoT world.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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