Can Open Source and The Linux Foundation Jump Start The Internet of Things?
When you consider what kinds of technology revolutions might arise over the next seven to 10 years, does The Internet of Things come to mind? Probably not, but you've no doubt heard of the effort to give just about everything an IP address, a cloud connection, or some kind of bridge to the Internet, allowing you to control everything from when your plants get watered to heating and plumbing in your house. In December of last year, The Linux Foundation announced its Allseen Alliance initiative, billed as "the broadest cross-industry consortium to date to advance adoption and innovation in the 'Internet of Everything' in homes and industry."
Since then, a lot of interesting thoughts have appeared about the impact of The Internet of Things, and how open source technology may be the key glue to bring it to fruition.
Gartner predicts that the Internet of Everything or the Internet of Things -- automatic communication and connectivity between a wide range of everyday devices, objects and applications – will infuse $1.9 trillion into the global economy by 2020. That's a tech revolution on par with some of the mobile achievements of the past several years.
In December, as the Allseen Alliance rolled out, it became clear just how much support the Linux Foundation had rallied behind it. It includes some of the world’s leading, consumer electronics manufacturers, home appliances manufacturers, service providers, retailers, enterprise technology companies, innovative startups, and chipset manufacturers. Premier level members include Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sharp, Silicon Image and TP-LINK. Community members include Canary, Cisco, D-Link, doubleTwist, Fon, Harman, HTC, Letv, LIFX, Lite-on, Moxtreme, Musaic, Sears Brand Management Corporation, Sproutling, The Sprosty Network, Weaved and Wilocity.
In February, 10 new members of the alliance were announced. They include AT&T Digital Life, Affinegy, GOWEX, iControl Networks, Kii, Muzzley, Patavina Technologies, 2lemetry, Tuxera and Vestel Group, bringing the total number of participants to 35 entities.
Keep in mind, the success of The Internet of Things depends on cross-industry collaboration from a wide range of partners, but it also depends on open source, as Linux Foundation chief Jim Zemlin writes:
"Open source is the ideal, neutral staging area for collaboration that can provide the interoperability layer needed to make the Internet of Everything a reality. When everyone jointly develops and uses the same freely available code, companies can develop innovative services on top of it and get them to market faster. This is why the majority of the consumer electronics industry, the high-performance computer industry, the world’s stock exchanges, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter and every Android device rely on the Linux kernel. Why would all them to try and produce non-differentiating infrastructure software that requires a development pace of 10,000 lines of code a day?"
Computeworld is out with an interesting piece along these lines called "Open source challenges a proprietary Internet of Things," which notes:
"There is nothing like a Microsoft in the electronics world, no company that could through sheer market power, manage to set a global document standard. But open source is another matter."
Some are predicting that next year's CES show will feature many products incorporating open Allseen Alliance code, and that by then we will see if open source can form the fabric that makes The Internet of Things a reality.