AWS is placing serious bets on IoT, with a flurry of announcements at its Reinvent conference underway this week in Las Vegas.
When it comes to embracing industry trends, Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Andy Jassy prefers an evidence-based approach, it seems.
At the company’s Reinvent conference, taking place at The Venetian in Las Vegas this week, he pretty much told journalists not to expect any blockchain announcements from AWS, the cloud arm of the online retail giant.
IoT, however, is a different matter entirely. “Of all the buzzwords of choice that we’ve been working on at AWS, IoT might be delivering the fastest in terms of the actual number of companies doing realy work there,” Jassy told attendees in his keynote presentation. “We’re now just entering a world where the growth in number of [connected] devices is going to be exponential.”
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Flurry of announcements
In keeping with that, the company unleashed a flurry of IoT-related announcements at the event. Of particular interest to managers in charge of large fleets of connected devices within enterprises was the announcement of three new services in particular.
The first is AWS IoT Device Management. Available now, this provides a platform by which IT managers can onboard, organise, remotely manage and retire IoT devices scattered around the networks. In other words, it’s a tool to oversee the entire lifecycle of a connected device, from initial set-up to end-of-life procedures.
Once devices are in service, the service enables customers to “easily group and track devices, quickly find any device in near real-time, troubleshoot device functionality, remotely update device software, and remotely reboot, reset, patch, and restore devices to factory settings, reducing the cost and effort of managing large IoT device deployments,” said the company.
The second service is AWS IoT Analytics. Currently in preview, this service helps bring data from edge devices into the cloud for analysis and insight. It’s a fully managed service that takes care of cleaning, processing, storing and analysing IoT data at scale. According to the company, getting started with this service is easy: “Customers simply identify the device data they wish to analyze, and they can optionally choose to enrich the data with IoT-specific metadata, such as device type and location, by using the AWS IoT Device Registry and other public data sources.”
The service also supports more sophisticated analytics, so customers can better understand device performance, predict failures and perform time-series analysis to dig down into what a device is telling them. When the service is combined with Amazon’s Quicksight data visualization tools, they can build dashboards and heat maps that display data in easy-to-understand ways.
The third IoT service in this trio is AWS IoT Device Defender. Scheduled for release in the first half of 2018, this service will continuously audit security policies associated with devices to keep them safe. THe service also monitors the activities of fleets of devices, identifying abnormal patterns that might indicate a security issue. For example, a customer can use the service “to define which ports should be open on a device, where the device should connect from and how much data it should send or receive.” said the company.
Amazon Web Services was also able to give examples of customers already using the first two products. Philips Healthcare, for example, said it is using AWS IoT Device Management for medical devices on which doctors and hospitals rely, while iRobot, maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner, is using AWS IoT Analytics to better understand “device performance and usage patterns”, according to Ben Kehoe, cloud robotics research scientist at the company.
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Other IoT news from Reinvent
Other IoT announcements at Reinvent included the unveiling of AWS IoT 1-Click. This is focused primarily on companies that want to build devices that perform simple functions, such as single-button devices used to call technical support, reorder supplies or track location assets. With this service, they can download a mobile app, register the device and associate it with an Lambda function (a simplified piece of code running in the cloud that triggers an event) – for example, locking a garage door once a car is safely put away inside. Customers also have the option to author and upload their own Lambda functions.
In addition, there was the introduction of Amazon FreeRTOS, which helps customers connect small, low-power devices that don’t contain much onboard computing power but just a microcontroller to connect to the cloud.
Finally, there was AWS Greengrass ML. This is a new feature for Greengrass, the company’s service that customers use to run AWS compute, messaging, data caching and sync capabilities on connected devices for edge computing. Greengrass ML adds to the mix by enabling application developers to add machine learning to connected devices, without requiring special machine learning skills.
Amazon Web Services is clearly very serious about IoT and sees the area as a potentially huge moneyspinner in the years ahead. As Jassy told Reinvent attendees: “When I think of net new opportunities, the conversation starts with being able to get data from assets in the field and to be able to do analytics on it.”
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