Co-authored by Danny Lousberg, Director of Product Management at Technicolor and AllSeen Alliance Chairperson, and Noah Harlan, Co-Founder of Two Bulls and AllSeen Alliance President.
The future is bright and, if the industry is right, it’s going to be really, really connected. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 30 billion things will be connected and that every product selling for $100 or more will be smart. The IoT industry continues to grow and rapidly evolve, and as varying protocols and differing standards arise, we’ve observed a corresponding rise in confusion. That’s understandable; with so many groups trying to do similar things, it’s understandable why the text on the various groups’ website can be largely indistinguishable.
Not surprisingly, many of the IoT groups share a similar mission - enabling a world where billions and billions of things interact together, securely, easily, and safely. It’s the approach they take to get there that is the fundamental difference to understand between the various organizations and their work.
Traditional standards organizations work (often in private) to create their view of how something should work – that is they create a standard specification against which a particular real-world implementation may be compared. Historically this has often led to a nightmare of competing implementations, each satisfying the specification but via each implementers interpretation yielding a morass of non-interoperable products and services. To attempt to address this, some standards organizations go a step further and offer a reference implementation that shows how you might take the standard to implementation, but even then the reference implementation is often incomplete. Those dependent on that code find their products left out in the cold while the drivers of the specification ponder theories and prioritize their own requirements. It’s the rare standards organization that goes the final mile to provide open, free, and production-ready code that companies can build products with.
There is a place and time for standards, but in an emerging space where everything is evolving rapidly and simultaneously, it’s unreasonable to say, “this is the one and only way to the IoT.” IoT is an ecosystem being built from the contributions of the many, evolving over time, and shifting as the market matures. There are billions of connected devices that exist today and billions more to come and any IoT platform must embrace looking backward and forward rather than asking history, and the industry, to come to them.
The AllSeen Alliance and its AllJoyn project exist to allow anyone seeking to build connected devices and services the opportunity to access, use, and modify to suit their needs a shared protocol that is fully unencumbered by patents, licenses, or proprietary lock-in from any company. Our nearly 200 members back and invest in AllJoyn, celebrating many advantages beyond unencumbered access to the code. Our five Working Groups are open to the world; this means anyone can join the calls, attend the face to face meetings, access the Wiki, listen to the recordings, join the mailing lists and contribute to the code base. We don’t discriminate against who and how you participate because we are open.
Consumers want to buy a lightswitch, stick it on the wall and boom, have it up and running, discovering other products and enabling connectivity use cases regardless of vendor or manufacturer. That is why we created the AllJoyn Certification program, with conformance testing and robust, real world interoperability testing to help OEMs ensure the products interoperate, and logo branding so consumers will feel confident that those products will adhere to the protocol and deliver on their promise.
If you can’t go from code to product, the best open source project in the world is really of no value. This is another place where AllJoyn shines. Due to the deep commitment of Alliance members like Microsoft that have embedded AllJoyn into the core of every single one of the more than 300 million Windows 10 devices in market today, AllJoyn has GREAT support in development tools like Visual Studio, making it easy to go from idea to product in minutes. There are only about 300,000 firmware developers in the world, but more than 40 million Visual Studio developers and Microsoft MVPs. That means AllJoyn is ready to bring IoT to the masses.
We’ve also seen tremendous growth, engagement and enthusiasm around our AllJoyn Ambassador User Group program this year, comprising 14 member-organized Meetup group associations all around the world with more than 560 active participants. Ambassadors are enthusiastic experts who know and use the AllJoyn code regularly and who are willing to share that knowledge with others. Participants share knowledge, recruit and onboard new developers, discuss best practices and technical challenges, as well as build awareness of the power of open source collaboration and the AllJoyn open source framework. AUGs hold Meetups, run hackathons, and host social events, with AllSeen Alliance providing support and resources to enable those engagements. We are proud to bring people across industries and oceans together to collaborate on AllJoyn and evangelize the power of open source.
We’ve come far. We understand it’s a journey, not a destination. And how you get there; the path you take and who is by your side matters.
Photo credit: QuoteFancy.
We’ve developed and maintained AllJoyn® for more than five years over the course of our six major technical software releases.
We build, iterate, advance, grow, and when we have problems we all come together and fix them. The power of many different companies, often marketplace competitors competitors, working together is incredible.
As our colleague Sam Ramji, who serves as the CEO of Cloud Foundry Foundation said, “Foundations are formed when a project becomes so important that multiple vendors are willing to back it, provided no single one of them controls it. All participants want to move the code to a neutral plane, where they can share in it without one gaining control or competitive advantage.”
AllSeen Alliance believes strongly in the power of open collaboration. Collaborative development and open source software are proven strategies and assets for accelerating new technologies, technology adoption, evolution and deployments in emerging, complex markets. The rapid iteration and broad visibility of open, community-driven activities are proven to result in major advances in technology and better software. A neutral, open source project based on meritocracy has proven over and over to deliver superior results.
AllSeen Alliance remains committed to our key differentiators and steadfast in our belief that the Alliance is the best home for continued AllJoyn growth and progress.
That is why AllSeen Alliance remains a true open source project coming with all the benefits of being hosted by The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration. Anyone can go and download the mature, production-ready AllJoyn software on GitHub, and it’s the same software you’ll find in 350 million AllJoyn-enabled products in-market today, including Xbox, LIFX light bulbs, Windows 10, LG TVs, and WiFi routers. This number has grown from just 20,000 products three years ago. Bringing products to market takes time, but the numbers are growing fast and with each new device that a customer installs, the ecosystem grows and more devices are available to interoperate. Therein lies the magic of AllSeen.
So yes, the mission and underlying technology between the many IoT groups may appear similar but, at the end of the day, it’s up to companies to decide if they value the open source model and love what that enables, allows and creates, or if they feel more comfortable in a classic Standards model to drive the approach.