1 Why IoT platform?

1.1 The role of platform in IoT solutions

In the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT), a vast number of intelligent devices continually generate an enormous volume of data. This data necessitates processing, visualization, and analysis in order to extract insights and intelligence for both businesses and everyday life. Additionally, the challenge arises from the diverse origins of these IoT devices, which are manufactured by various vendors and operate on different protocols and standards. Therefore, there is a need for a unified platform to manage these numerous IoT devices. The IoT platform assumes the responsibility of supporting the IoT network and devices, as well as integrating data into a centralized system. Furthermore, IoT platforms also offer interfaces to third-party systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Presently, there exist several IoT platforms developed for different IoT projects, with the most renowned ones being Google Cloud IoT, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT, and IBM Watson IoT. Key functionalities of IoT platforms include event processing and action management, advanced analytics, privacy management, storage/database, device management, and integration with external interfaces.

1.2 Features of IoT Platforms

Typically, software and hardware developers involved in IoT projects operate autonomously. In simpler terms, IoT software developers focus on analyzing incoming data, defining analytical algorithms, and enabling human control over the environment without altering the hardware configuration. To bridge the gap between data networks or application tasks and devices or sensors, an IoT platform plays a crucial role, as depicted in Figure 1. Traditionally, the IoT platform acts as middleware, offering comprehensive services and connectivity between hardware and applications [1] [2]

                                             Figure 1. The role of IoT Platforms

An IoT platform encompasses software capabilities that facilitate device and sensor provisioning, data reception and storage, service development, and customer billing management. When environmental sensors are connected to the platform, a wide range of applications can be defined, opening up diverse business opportunities. The IoT platform is instrumental in enabling comprehensive machine-to-machine (M2M) communication [3]. As per the aforementioned definition, the IoT platform assumes a central role in an IoT project and is responsible for software development tools, hardware configuration, gateways, and client-based services.

However, not every software can be classified as an IoT platform. So, what are the key features that define a platform? Generally, each IoT platform exhibits the following attributes:

  1. Synchronicity: The ability to receive data synchronously from multiple processing nodes, analyze it, and respond to various devices simultaneously.
  2. Generality: The capability to support different communication protocols such as LTE-M, NB-IoT, ZigBee, and more.
  3. Diversity: The ability to connect and communicate with numerous devices and processing nodes.
  4. Scalability: The capacity to handle the connection of thousands of nodes with minimal configurations.
  5. Integrability: The ability to integrate with different platforms.
  6. Privacy: The flexibility to define data access levels based on project requirements and conditions.
  7. Robustness: The platform’s ability to withstand diverse environmental conditions of devices.
  8. Application: Providing users with simplified access to data and facilitating its analysis.

These attributes collectively characterize an IoT platform and distinguish it from ordinary software solutions.

To start developing an IoT application, the chosen platform should have the following key features as shown in Figure 2:

  1. Consistency with your application.
  2. Support for your device type.
  3. Compatibility with different protocols.
  4. Data storage capability for various data types.
  5. Ability to apply data analytics tasks.

Considering these features when selecting an IoT platform ensures that it meets the specific requirements of your application, supports your devices, communicates effectively using different protocols, enables efficient data storage, and allows for data analysis to derive meaningful insights.

                                        Figure 2. Different features of an IoT Platform

Indeed, it’s important to note that the chosen IoT platform may offer both offline and online approaches in the data analytics step, which are significant considerations during the development of an IoT project. The platform may provide capabilities for performing data analytics in real-time, as data is being generated and transmitted (online approach). Additionally, it may offer offline data analytics capabilities, allowing for batch processing and analysis of stored data at a later time. This flexibility in data analytics approaches enables developers to choose the most suitable method based on their specific application requirements and constraints.

1.3  Features of IoT Platforms 

Certainly, using an appropriate IoT platform is crucial for developing end-to-end IoT solutions based on customer requirements. In recent times, numerous IoT platforms have emerged to cater to these needs. Opting for the right platform can significantly reduce time-to-market and allow more focus on addressing the customer’s actual needs. However, there is always a trade-off between development costs and time, including factors such as total cost, data transmission volume, development time, revenue generation, and platform features. To address these considerations, existing IoT platforms offer a diverse range of features aimed at satisfying customer requirements, minimizing costs, and delivering optimal solutions. Table 1 provides a comprehensive review of 11 well-known platforms, outlining their respective characteristics for reference and evaluation.

Table 1. Well-known IoT Platform features [4] [5] [6] [7]



IoT Platform

Marketing features



Cloud IoT

  • Connectivity and device management
  • Edge TPU chips for edge processing solutions
  • Smart energy, smart parking, transportation and logistics




  • Connectivity, authentication, rule engine, development environment
  • FreeRTOS and IoT GreenGrass for edge computing solutions
  • Smart city, connected home, and agriculture



Cisco IoT

  • Developing control center, mobile connectivity (eSIM), supporting machine learning, security
  • Cisco iOX, edge intelligence for edge computing
  • Connected vehicle, smart city, smart manufacturing



IBM Watson

  • Connectivity, device management, real-time analytics, blockchain
  • IBM edge application manager for edge processing
  • Smart building, agriculture, smart manufacturing



Azure IoT

  • Connectivity, authentication, device management, device monitoring, and IoT edge
  • IoT hub for Microsoft edge solutions
  • Healthcare, smart retail, smart manufacturing



  • Connectivity, device management, scalability, data analytics, easy-to-use, low cost
  • Open-source (run locally) and cloud-based, generic platform
  • Smart energy, smart farming, fleet tracking, smart metering, environment monitoring, smart office, water metering, and smart retail.



  • Connectivity, device management, security and privacy, IoT software stack, local storage, device simulator
  • Data can be managed locally or in the cloud in encrypted or unencrypted formats depending on user requirements
  • Wearables and home automation, smart lighting, Industrial applications


Intel IoT

  • Security, scalability, device manageability, data analytics, interoperability with other software
  • Free software, supporting AI across endpoint, edges and clouds, edge management system for connecting and managing cloud to edge
  • Smartphones, drones, intelligent cameras and augmented reality devices



  • Modular, secure, compatibility, device and component support, real time software execution, open source, ease of use, end-to-end security
  • Easy to code and develop, software is free to use, optimized for energy and cost-constrained devices
  • Industrial asset monitoring, smart city bike lights, smart street lighting, energy-efficient IoT devices


Kaa IoT

  • Device management, data collection, processing and visualization and analytics, alerts, triggers, and notifications, configuration management, command execution, security, OTA (Over the Air) updates
  • easy-to-use platform, open-source middleware, new features can be added for free, prototype for reporting, visualization and dashboard,
  • Industrial, healthcare, telecom, smart city, smart energy, logistics, consumer electronics, automotive and wearables sensors



  • Real-time data collection, processing, visualizations, and apps, creating simple dashboards
  • Aggregate data on-demand from third-party sources, embedding with MATLAB
  • Smart farming, energy monitoring, environmental monitoring, traffic monitoring and developing IoT Labs

There are several reasons why you might consider using the ThingsBoard (TB) platform over other IoT platforms:

  1. Connectivity and Device Management: ThingsBoard offers robust connectivity and device management capabilities. It allows you to easily connect and manage a large number of devices, ensuring seamless communication between your IoT devices and the platform.
  2. Scalability: ThingsBoard is designed to be highly scalable, allowing you to handle large-scale IoT deployments efficiently. Whether you have a small number of devices or thousands of them, ThingsBoard can accommodate your needs and scale as your IoT project grows.
  3. Data Analytics: ThingsBoard provides powerful data analytics features, enabling you to derive valuable insights from your IoT data. You can perform real-time analysis, visualize data trends, and gain actionable intelligence to make informed decisions and optimize your operations.
  4. Easy-to-use and Low Cost: ThingsBoard is known for its user-friendly interface and ease of use. Even users without extensive technical expertise can quickly get started with building IoT solutions. Additionally, ThingsBoard offers cost-effective options, making it an attractive choice for projects with budget constraints.
  5. Open-Source and Cloud-based: ThingsBoard offers the flexibility of both open-source deployment (running locally) and cloud-based deployment. You can choose the deployment option that best suits your requirements, giving you control over where your data resides and how it is managed.
  6. Wide Range of Applications: ThingsBoard is a generic platform that caters to various IoT application domains. It can be applied to diverse use cases such as smart energy, smart farming, fleet tracking, environmental monitoring, smart offices, water metering, and smart retail. Its versatility makes it suitable for a broad range of industries and IoT applications.
  7. Community and Support: ThingsBoard has an active and growing community of users and developers. This means you can benefit from community-driven development, access a wealth of resources, and receive support from the community or the ThingsBoard team when needed.

While the choice of an IoT platform ultimately depends on your specific requirements and project goals, the aforementioned features make ThingsBoard a compelling option for those seeking a user-friendly, scalable, and cost-effective IoT solution with robust analytics capabilities.

  1. https://wolkabout.com/blog/choosing-the-right-iot-platform/
  2. https://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/best-iot-platforms/
  3. https://www.kaaiot.com/kaa-platform-roadmap
  4. https://wolkabout.com/blog/choosing-the-right-iot-platform/
  5. https://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/best-iot-platforms/
  6. https://www.kaaiot.com/kaa-platform-roadmap
  7. https://thingsboard.io/docs/samples/


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