Future of the Internet of things: Richness in the fragmentation of standards?

With more than 50 standards organisations attempting to oversee ever faster technological advancements, the issue of improving IoT standards unsurprisingly generated fierce debate when it came up at a conference in Brussels on Thursday

By Kayleigh Lewis

27 Nov 2015

At the event, focusing on the future of the Internet of things Yu Chao Hu, Director of standardisation and partnership strategies at Huawei, said that there are “an enormous amount of standards settings bodies and organisations involved in IoT”.

“Everybody makes their own architecture, everybody states that their architecture is the real architecture,” but, he continued, “Nobody knows how the different architectures are correlated to each other.”

He also spoke about the impact of open source software on IoT, calling it is a “different sort of paradigm”.

“It is changing the standards world quite rapidly and is quite disruptive”.

He said that open source software is released every six to eight months, and that this is “a very fast introduction of different capabilities that you would like to have interoperability on.”

Seeking to explain the abundance of standards organisations and bodies, Jacopo Cassina of Holonix said, “Standards have developed in a peer to peer, bottom- up way, rather than top down.”

However, he added, “Fragmentation in this case is a richness. Open standards enable us to target markets and interoperate with other systems.”

He said that the EU could do more though. “Some support and some suggestions from the institutions would be very beneficial, especially for SMEs, because managing and understanding… these implications is very difficult.”

Meanwhile, Ulrich Seldeslachts of LSEC warned of a digital divide in Europe. He told stakeholders that the European Commission needed to support industries in member states and help them to understand specifically where they need to apply further attention to transform themselves.

“Scandinavian countries and Germany will be more advanced and more ready to develop proof of concepts than some countries in the Southern parts,” said Seldeslachts

In response to the question of the potential of a globalised standards body he said, “There is not one global player capable of seizing this market as it is.”

Across the panel it was echoed that the cooperation and comparison of current standards is the best approach when it comes to improving IoT standards in the future.

Harm Jan Arendshorst, head of IoT product development at Verizon, said, “There are a lot of standards but they have to cooperate in some way.” He also said that the “ecosystem of standards and trust” are the biggest challenges facing IoT.

Speaking on the current state of IoT standards, he said, “We all agree that this is not what we would like to see.”

He said that creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are all positives, as are all of the tools available to us to enable it. But, he continued, if we design something “maybe there’s a reference architecture”, or that “if we want to connect A to B maybe it’s already done”.

“If we look five years ahead from now I hope we are in a better place where we have less standards to look at,” he concluded.

The conference was organised by the Digital Enlightenment Forum, Huawei and The Parliament Magazine.

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