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AT&T Courts IoT Developers with Data Service, Tools

With the Internet of Things (IoT) gaining increasing importance in Big Data analytics, AT&T yesterday unveiled several initiatives to help coders simplify development efforts, including a new machine-to-machine (M2M) data service, an IoT connection kit and a cloud-based visual development tool.

"Beginning today, enterprise customers can purchase commercial plans for the M2X Data Service, a carrier-grade cloud-based data store that makes it easier to collect, analyze, and share time-series data from connected devices," the company announced at its 2015 AT&T Developer Summit.

The IoT is described by Wikipedia as "the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure," referring to the collection of data from "things" such as network-connected devices, sensors, systems and services for data analytics, automation and other use cases.

The AT&T M2X developer Web site describes M2X as "a cloud-based data storage service and management toolset customized for the IoT. M2X gathers data in real-time from connected devices and equipment and translates that data into meaningful information for quick decisions, automated actions and strategic analysis."

The AT&T M2X service
[Click on image for larger view.] The AT&T M2X service (source: AT&T)

Yesterday's announcements came just over a year after AT&T unveiled the M2X Data Service as part of its beta M2X Developer Kit, described as a cloud-based "developer sandbox" to foster M2M/IoT development.

Since then, AT&T said, several major companies have been using the service, including Emerson, Rockwell Automation, Ericsson, Samsung and more.

"In the Industrial IoT world, connecting devices and machines to the Internet only has value if you can effectively store, analyze and leverage the data that's being transmitted," said company exec Mike Troiano. "Our M2X Data Service allows businesses of all sizes to manage and better utilize the data they collect from connected devices."

AT&T pointed to use cases for smart homes, vehicle fleets, vending machines and even trash receptacles and dog collars.

For actual coding, the company unveiled the AT&T Flow Designer visual development tool, now in beta, and passed out free M2X Connection Kits to summit attendees.

The Flow Designer helps prototype IoT and M2M apps using node-based flows with test applications in a scalable, on-demand computing environment. Built by the company's AT&T Foundry "innovation center" -- or prototype/testing lab for customers -- the designer features open source nodes that are available on GitHub.

"Flow Designer offers nodes that are preconfigured to allow easy access to multiple data sources, cloud services, device profiles and communication methods," AT&T said on its site. "The integrations are already done for you, so you only have to focus on wiring the building blocks together to create your IoT application." To do this, the company said, developers can leverage prebuilt nodes including MQTT, MongoDB, RabbitMQ and M2X.

The free, limited-time-only, one-per-customer M2X Connection Kits include three test SIMs and six months of free data service for development and testing, along with access to the AT&T Control Center platform, which is powered by Jasper, for help in building connected services and devices.

The AT&T initiatives mirror those of other industry powerhouses, such as Intel, which last month introduced its own IoT platform.

For more developer-oriented IoT news and analysis, see:

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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