Beyond the Internet of Things Trend: How 'Things' Shape Software Development

March 7, 2016

By Steve Mezak

security-protection-anti-virus-software-cms.jpgUnlike traditional application development, software development for the Internet of Things (IoT) is still in its early stages. Poised to reshape the way we interact with the world around us, the IoT promises an almost unlimited number of potential applications. From refrigerators alerting you that you’re out of eggs to offices recognizing your car when you arrive and directing you to a parking spot, the world is becoming increasingly connected.


Internet of Things: Trend or Fad?
No one really knows how many connected things there are in the world, as the definition of a ‘thing’ is constantly growing and changing as new web-enabled technologies emerge. However, estimates from Gartner and others put the numbers at roughly 4.9 billion connected devices in 2015, growing to about 25 billion in 2020, with the uses spread across automotive, consumer and general business categories.

So is the IoT a trend or a fad? Consider this: today there are approximately 3 billion smartphone subscriptions globally, and that number is expected to reach around 6 billion by 2020. Simply said, the world already has more connected things than smartphones, which have spawned a $30 billion mobile application industry.

As adoption rates of IoT technology continue to increase – and new industries become connected to the Internet – more and more software developers with specialized skills will be needed to create software capable of bringing order to the chaos created by all this information. In fact, the IoT is expected to generate roughly 400 zettabytes – that’s 400 billion terabytes – per year by 2018.

To help you get a handle on how this will impact your software development, we’ve put together a few things to consider when hiring developers for your IoT projects.


Connectivity
From creating systems integration algorithms to end-user applications, the ability to connect anything and everything is at the crux of the IoT. However, the immaturity of standards creates havoc for product designers. To help mitigate risks, software developers must be able to hedge their strategies by focusing on standards they believe will win the race, all while having a back-up plan should their chosen standard not prevail.

Developers should be well-versed in the benefits and limitations of various standards such as Bluetooth, Z-wave and Zigbee, while also understanding the power and memory limitations of edge node IoT devices. With the market quickly changing and growing, a developer well-versed in agile methodology can adapt quickly as products and clients’ expectations change.

Another avenue to consider is integration with existing emerging IoT platforms such as ThingWorx or Xively. Utilizing these cloud-based platforms can help speed up your time to market by eliminating the need to build the entire platform from scratch and reduces risks associated with scalability because these platforms are already proven. Don’t be afraid to ask potential developers about their familiarity with these platforms and their experience working with them.


Concurrency
The distributed nature of the IoT ecosystem demands flexibility in its programming, requiring operations, actions, algorithms, etc. to be executed in any order and remain determinate. The ability to perform this concurrent coding is not generally a skill every developer has, especially when they are used to writing more traditionally in serial or parallel code.

This distinction is important. Concurrent computing is related to, yet is distinctly different from, parallel computing. However, the two often remain confused. While both methods execute multiple processes during the same time, concurrent computing allows process lifetimes to overlap. With the IoT explosion of sensors and other connected devices, coping with the flow of information will mean being able to deal with potentially millions of concurrently operating devices in real-time.


Security
As with most new web-enabled technologies, security is a top concern, particularly for software developers where breaches often occur from bugs in the code. No company wants to relive a situation like the now famous Foscam hack.

Creating secure software for the IoT requires developers who understand the quirks and requirements of your application. For example, a WiFi-enabled refrigerator might only need very simple level of security to protect the customer’s information; but more critical devices such as medical electronics require a much higher level of security and a developer well-versed in that industry.

If you’re considering developing products and applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), finding a quality developer who understands the connectivity and security issues is paramount. At Accelerance, we’ve scoured the globe to find developers with deep technical experience across a wide range of industries from industrial automation projects to smart home technologies. Contact us about finding the right developer for your project.

Subscribe

Learn more about successful outsourcing and get the latest from Accelerance.