One of the first groups to seek industry unity in the Internet of Things space is announcing today that several more companies have joined up, confirming the impression that rival technology factions are forming in the IoT sector.
The AllSeen Alliance Inc. was formed in late 2013 by the Linux Foundation to promote industry collaboration on an open software framework for IoT hardware, devices, and services. The initial framework is based on the AllJoyn open source project, which was contributed by Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s Qualcomm Innovation Center.
With the addition of seven new members (ControlBEAM, Fortune Techgroup, FreeWings Technologies, Grid2Home, Legrand Group, MachineShop, and Vedams), the ranks of the AllSeen Alliance now number 58. The group believes membership growth is expanding AllSeen's focus beyond the connected home and into verticals such as automotive and other industrial sectors.
With Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) as an AllSeen member and big hitters like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) (through its Nest acquisition) backing new standards groups like the Open Interconnect Consortium and Thread Group , respectively, it appears the IoT camps are hurriedly collecting allegiances -- though many companies have joined multiple organizations. (See Microsoft Joins Qualcomm & Friends in IoT Standards Group, Intel, Others Form Another IoT Alliance , and Thread Group Spins New IoT Networking Protocol.)
AllSeen maintains that its open source heritage (namely, Linux) and approach to fostering technology innovation, not just standards, sets it apart.
"To have open source that has this much attention -- members collaborating on testing and providing commercial-grade solutions as an open source project -- is pretty unusual," says Joe Speed, director of IoT for the Linux Foundation. "Linux is the poster child for that. Even though this is cross platform and not Linux specific, we are taking a lot of best practice from the Linux model."
AllSeen has formed several new working groups and developed a certification and compliance program that will include third-party testing, Speed says. While the group will back and implement open standards, he says, the first step to getting to that point is more collaboration to make sure all aspects of the platform work.
"Folks who always think of it as standards first, source code second kind of have it backwards," Speed says. "Standards are hard and move slowly. Implementation is really what proves out. Open collaboration and open source can innovate and move faster than standards. This is the future -- this is how things are going to happen. It's all about the collaboration."
With so many IoT industry groups in such early phases of formation and development -- at just seven months old, the AllSeen Alliance is the oldest -- the only thing that's clear at this point is that nothing is very clear. But AllSeen is, Speed says, committed to the notion of industry-wide cooperation.
"It's certainly our hope that groups work together," he says. "A fragmented market doesn't help anyone."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, Light Reading