Handy Internet of Things resources for those unable to clone themselves

For IoT, one needs to understand cloud, networking, hardware -- three separate disciplines -- and be able to pull it all together.

There are three main areas anyone wanting to get more intimately familiar with the Internet of Things should focus on: devices, cloud and analytics. With such a diversity of skills required, as Darshana Sugathan puts it, there can be no such thing as an "IoT expert."

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

The challenge is devices, cloud and analytics are three very wide areas, each with its own sets of specialties and ways of doing things. (And different ways of looking at the world.) It requires one to clone himself or herself two or three times to make sure everything is covered.

Since cloning oneself is not yet an option, one needs to be able to assimilate important pieces of all three areas. Fortunately, there are a number of resources, online or even onsite, to help with this journey. A noted education provider is Arcitura, which offers a range of courses, certifications and books on cloud and big data, and brings many elements together at the architectural level.Workshops are held all over the world.

Of course, IoT also involves hardware, networks and the software involved in each. There area number of online and onsite offerings that help get interested people get up to speed on IoT. Sharjeel Sohaib provides a comprehensive listing of online courses and resources to help practitioners get better acquainted with IoT, breaking it down into essential roles:

For those wanting to learn more about the "things" -- sensors and devices, Alasdair Allas offers an iOS sensors and external hardware masterclass. "This is one of our favorite workshops on sensors," Sohaib says. "Done well, you'll be able to make basic location-aware applications for the iOS platforms. You'll be using onboard sensors: the three-axis accelerometer, the magnetometer, the gyroscope, the camera and the GPS." Workshops are held in London, San Francisco, and New York. For Android devices, Sohaib recommends the Lynda course, and Microsoft Virtual Academy or Microsoft Channel 9 for creating solutions using Windows IoT "Athens" on mobile and industry devices.

At the network level, Cisco offers a series of courses leading to the designation of Industrial Networking Specialist. "The industrial-networking courses by Cisco can make you well-versed in OSI layers of IP networks, as well as networking devices like routers and switches, and cabling approaches; specific industrial devices such as drives, PLCs, sensors, and substation equipment; relevant industrial standards and models such as TIA, the Purdue model, and environmental standards; and various safety protocols important in an industrial zone."

For executives overseeing IoT-oriented operations who aren't familiar with the innards of IoT, there's the Noble Prog course on IoT for "anyone whose new to IoT and feels inadequate in electronics and devices layer of IoT."

Finally, believe it or not, there are protocols and standards emerging around IoT. Andy Mulholland of Constellation Research provides a nice overview of what is in place. Here is his summary:

Open Interconnect - Promoted by GE and Intel, aims to provide an Open Source Protocol with a Wireless specification that will offer the necessary scale and capabilities to handle the billions of Devices interacting by 2020.

Industrial Internet - The force behind this is Dr. Richard Soley, who also heads up the Object Management Group. (Need I say more?) Promoted by GE, IBM and Intel, focuses on the Industrial Internet and operational technology.

Internet 4.0 - Promoted by EU, German government, Siemens, and SAP. A mainly European initiative supporting manufacturing companies' initiatives to develop competitive IoT connected smart manufacturing.

Thread - Promoted by Google and ARM. A low-power Mesh network protocol already in use for NEST Smart Homes on the 2.4Ghz unlicensed wireless spectrum with the advantage of being based on common existing transport protocols.

Allseen Alliance - Promoted by Linux Foundation, Qualcomm and Microsoft. substantial consortium with the support of many large consumer enterprises based on Qualcomm AllJoyn free to use protocol.

Hypercat - Promoted by UK Government and British Telecom. A UK smart cities-centric consortium aiming to provide a sophisticated protocol that allows searching for devices around functionality and uses self-describing metadata to define resulting data flows.