IoT Architecture: Every Component You Need For Your IoT Project

General Architecture of IoT

  1. Application — How is your consumer going to interact and use this data?
  2. Embedded — This is the hardware itself (and the custom software written to run on it). What kind of chips and sensors do you need to collect and send the necessary data?
  3. Network & Connectivity — How is the data being sent to the cloud?
  4. Cloud & Infrastructure — What kind of cloud infrastructure and database do you need?

Where to Start — IoT Architecture

  • Why are we creating this application?
  • What kind of data do we need?
  • How will we obtain this data?
  • What are we doing with this data?
  • What might we want to do with this data in the future?

Application Architecture

Embedded/Hardware Architecture

  • Operating environment
  • Maintainability
  • Cost
  • Sensing ability
  • Sensitivity
  • Range of information
  • Sampling method: Will you sample via interruption or polling? I.e., Are you recording data every XX seconds? Or waiting for an event?
  • Sampling rate: If you’re polling, how often will you sample? For this, you’ll need to consider how quickly the data you’re sampling changes. Determining if you need to sample every 1 second or 1 month makes a big difference in how you’ll collect and process that data. Further, depending on how urgently you need to send that data back to the cloud will influence the requisite quality of your network connectivity. If you sample too much, you’ll drive up network costs. Plus it’s wasteful. Generally speaking, you want to sample just enough data to get by.
  • Cost: Especially for industrial IoT, you might need hundreds of microcontrollers. For consumer devices, you want to keep the cost of production low to maximize profit and make your product more accessible.
  • Power: Your application may require your MCU to run off of a battery instead of being plugged into a power source. You need to understand how long the battery will last and which operating conditions will quickly drain your battery (for example, reading samples from sensors generally takes far less energy than performing wireless communication).
  • Memory: If you need to aggregate large amounts of data for edge processing before sending it off to the cloud, you may quickly run out of memory!
  • Gateways: If you have a low-power microcontroller, you’ll need a gateway. A gateway bridges your embedded architecture with your network.
  • Information rate: If your sensors are producing a lot of information quickly, it might affect the MCU you get.

Network/Connectivity

  • Bluetooth (close to mid-range and low energy)
  • Wifi (mid to long-range. Wifi takes 10X the power, but is faster and can have a much longer range than Bluetooth)
  • Cellular (great for when your device is on the go in urban areas. You don’t need to be tethered to a wifi network or gateway, you just need to make sure you stay within the coverage area of your provider.)
  • Satellite (less conventional (read more expensive and harder to find a provider), but enables network connections in rural areas where cellular coverage isn’t available.)
  • LoRa (Long Range): Similar to wifi, but it reaches further (up to 10 miles in rural areas).

Cloud and Infrastructure

Your Top Options for IoT Cloud

  • Google: Google isn’t a dominant player in IoT right now, but trying to make a push.
  • Amazon: They have everything you need, but, to us, it feels like they’re more focused on industrial IoT. One possible benefit is that Amazon has its own hardware brand called SiteWise. They also have SnowFamily (edge processing).
  • Microsoft: Microsoft seems to be more friendly to consumer products.
  • Cisco: Specifically focused on industrial and smart cities. They also have their own hardware

How to Create your IoT Architecture Plan Quickly

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CTO at Devetry (www.devetry.com). I write about technology, software development, and entrepreneurship. I also play guitar and love whiskey.

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Allan Wintersieck

Allan Wintersieck

CTO at Devetry (www.devetry.com). I write about technology, software development, and entrepreneurship. I also play guitar and love whiskey.