ABCs of IoT Consortiums

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ABCs of IoT Consortiums

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The Internet of Things industry has taken off over the last two years. One activity I have been monitoring is how industry consortiums have been responding to IoT. At Eclipse IoT we have a goal of implementing open IoT standards, so understanding how different consortiums, old and new, are serving the IoT industry is important for us to know.

Last week, I have an opportunity to give a presentation on IoT Consortiums at the Thingmonk event in London. It was well received so I decided to write it up as a blog post.

In thinking about consortiums, I looked at three factors: 1) Openness: how open are their IP policies and implementing their standards (if they have any), 2) Availability: does the consortium have anything available or delivered. Lots of these consortiums are just getting started but some are already delivering. 3) Adoption: Is the consortium actually using the deliverable and in general what type of momentum do they have. I gave each consortium a grade A,B,C or D, on each of these criteria. Of course this is very subjective and my opinion. Feel free to correct me by leaving a comment.

Old Dog New Tricks

In general I have been thinking of IoT consortiums in different categories the first being existing groups that have focused on device to device connectivity. I’ve labeled this category ‘Old Dog New Tricks’. In this category I include Zigbee Alliance, Bluetooth SIG and UPnP. All three of these groups are in the process of updating their specification to include the new requirements of IoT, ex. suitability for low powered devices or more interoperability profiles. More specifically, Zigbee has their newZigbee 3.0 spec, Bluetooth has Bluetooth LE (now named Bluetooth Smart) and UPnP has UPnP+.

Openness: C  

In general you need to be a member of these alliances to implement their specification. Membership often provides the opportunity to certify, patent protection and access to the specification.

Availability: B

All of these alliances are delivering their new specifications for IoT today, although they are relatively new.

Adoption: B

All of these alliances have widely adopted communities and will benefit from the move into IoT. For instance, I see a lot of Bluetooth LTE usage and in fact probably deserves a A rating.

 New Kids

There is a group of three consortiums that have been announce in the last 2 years that are getting a lot of attention: Allseen, Open Interconnect Consortium and Thread. It appears these three are mostly competitive with each other and providing similar value to groups in the previous category.  Lets look at each three individually:


Allseen was announce by Qualcomm in 2013 as an open source foundation for their Alljoyn framework, a solution for device communication in home automation. Alljoyn has been around since 2011 but in 2013 Qualcomm decided they need a better governance model so they created a foundation.

Openness: A-

Alljoyn is available under an open source license, albeit an obscure licensed called ISC. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a patent clause which has caused some concern. Allseen has also stated they will not publish a standard so it will be impossible to have alternative implementations. For these reason I give it a A- for openness.

Availability: A

You can download the Alljoyn framework today.

Adoption: C

Adoption appears to be pretty modest.

 Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC)

OIC was announce earlier in 2014. Led by Intel and Samsung it appears to be a direct competitor to the Allseen Alliance. It would appear IP concerns was one of the motivation for creating OIC.

Openness: A

OIC will be available under the Apache license and they have stated their intention to publish a specification.

Availability: D

So far nothing has been published.

Adoption: D

They are just getting going so no adoption.

 Thread Group

In 2014, the Thread Group was also announced. Led by Nest, their goal is to ‘To create the very best way to connect and control products in the home.’  It sounds pretty similar to Allseen and OIC. Thread has as its members Nest (interestingly not Google), ARM, Samsung, Freescale and Silicon Labs.  It is interesting to see Samsung in more than one of these groups.

Openness: D

Information is pretty sparse on the Thread Group web site but there is no mention of open source licensing and not even royalty-free access to the deliverables.  I hope and expect this will change once Thread starts delivering.

Availability: D

Nothing has been published.

Adoption: D

They are just getting going.

 Developer Focused

There are a group of consortiums that are focused on delivering standards and open source to the developer community.


IETF has published a number of standards for IoT developers, including CoAP for application messaging, DTLS for device security and 6lowpan for network communication.

Openness: A

IP policies of the IETF makes it easy to access and implement their standards in open source.

Availability: A

You can access these specifications today.

Adoption: B-

Adoption of CoAP, DTLS and 6lowpan appear to be modest. I’ve seem more interest in CoAP over the last year but it still have some ways to go.


OASIS has recently published the MQTT specification, a messaging protocol for IoT. MQTT was developed in the late 1990’s by IBM and Eurotech. In 2013, IBM announced they would open source their implementation at Eclipse and standardize the protocol at OASIS.

Openness: A-

To participate in an OASIS standards committee you need to be a member. However, they do make the specification under open source friendly terms and they do make the final specification open to the public.

Availability: A

MQTT was finalized as a standard in November 2014.

Adoption: B

I’ve seen continued adoption of MQTT as a standard for IoT. Most IoT middleware providers support MQTT and more and more hardware providers are including it. Eclipse Paho and Eclipse Mosquitto, which implement MQTT, are very active and popular projects.

Open Mobile Alliance (OMA)

OMA has published a standard called Lightweight M2M (LWM2M), a standard for IoT device management.

Openness: A-

LWM2M can be easily implement by open source projects and the final specification are open to everyone. The OMA standards committees are only open to members of OMA.

Availability: A

LW2M2M is available today.

Adoption: C+

I don’t see much adoption of LWM2M but I do see that changing. A number of companies are serious about LWM2M and I expect device management to be a hot trend in IoT for 2015. The interest in the Eclipse LWM2M project, Leshan and Wakamma also appear to support increase interest in LWM2M.

Eclipse IoT

The Eclipse IoT community was started in early 2013. It now includes 17 different open source projects and 22 organizations participating in the IoT Working Group. The goal of Eclipse IoT is to provide open IoT frameworks and open source implementations of open IoT standards.

Openness: A

All the Eclipse IoT projects are available under the Eclipse Public License (EPL) and most are dual licensed under the Eclipse Distribution License (a BSD style license).

Availability: A

Most of the projects are available today.

Adoption: B

Projects like Eclipse Paho and Eclipse Mosquitto are being widely used in the IoT and MQTT community. Other projects like Eclipse SmartHome have growing communities.

 Industry Focus

A number of consortiums are services specific vertical industries. I don’t follow these consortiums that closely so my information may be out of date or incorrect.


OneM2M was created by the major global teleco standard groups, including ETSI, TIA and others. Their goal is to create a standard of the service layer required for M2M solutions. They goal was to ensure each standards group didn’t do their own M2M standard but collaborate on a common, One M2M standard.

Openness: B

OneM2M has published the first draft of their specification and asked for feedback. It is possible to create open source implementations of OneM2M. Eclipse IoT has a project, OM2M that started with the ETSi M2M and plans to implement OneM2M.

Availability: B

A draft of the standard is available today. The intended to publish the 1.0 specification in December. I am not sure if this will still happen or not?

Adoption: C

The standard has not been finalized so I have not seen any adoption. Please let me know if you have adopted OneM2M

 Home Gateway Initiative (HGI)

The two main theme of HGI are connectivity and service enabling, with specific reference to smart home scenarios.  HGI appears to provide use cases, requirements and reference architectures for the home automation industry.

Openness: B

Anyone can access the HGI documents from their web site. However, HGI meetings are open to members only.

Availability: B

HGI documents are available from their web site

Adoption: C-

I don’t know of anyone that has adopted or referenced HGI specifications This might be due to my lack of knowledge of the home automation industry. Please feel free to leave a comment if you know of companies adopting HGI.


Continua is a consortium focused on interoperability of healthcare and medical devices.

Openness: ?

I could not determine their IP policies. It would be great if someone could let me know.

Availability: A

Continua appears to have a functioning certification program and active working group.

Adoption: B

On the Continua web site there were 70 different products that have been certified by Continua. Although not huge, it certainly appears they have momentum and adoption.

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

IEC, a sister organization of ISO, deals with electricity and electrical standards.  They have a number of standards that are relevant for SCADAsystems and Industrial Automation.


To access the IEC standards you need to purchase them. Once you purchase them it is not really clear their policies on re-licensing for things like open source implementations.

Availability: B

A number of standards are available today.

Adoption: B


There are a number of consortiums that are setup to promote and advocate for IoT technology and the industry in general. These groups are not setup to deliver any specific standard or open source implementation. They are often very good source of networking with other vendors in the industry.

Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC)

IIC was started in early 2014 and has quickly gained momentum. Started by GE, IBM, Intel, AT&T and Cisco, the consortium has quickly grown to over 100 members.  The goal of the IIC is to assemble best practices the IoT industry through reference architectures, use cases, testbeds, etc.  IIC has a stated goal to not create standards or open source implementations for IoT.

Openness: C

To access any of the IIC content and meetings you need to be a member.

Availabilty: D

IIC is just getting started so very little has been delivered.

Adoption: B

IIC has nothing really to adopt but they have gain impressive momentum in the IoT industry. Eclipse IoT is a member of IIC so we can attend their meetings. It seems to me they have been able to bring together traditional IT providers and industrial vendors. They will be interesting to watch.

 IPSO Alliance

IPSO Alliance was started in 2008. From their web site ‘The IPSO Alliance provides a foundation for industry growth by fostering awareness, providing education, promoting the industry, generating research, and creating a better understanding of IP and its role in the Internet of Things.’  One interesting project of IPSO is their Smart Objects’ project, a project to start defining the meta-data of IoT devices. It is still very early days but it is nice to see some group taking on this work.

Openness: B

IPSO publishes the Smart Object information on their web site. It is not clear how you can participate in the Smart Object project.

Availability: B

A first draft of Smart Object is available. My guess is that this is just the start.

Adoption: C-

It is still very early days. I don’t know anyone who has adopted Smart Objects.

 M2M Alliance

M2M Alliance is a German-based trade association that has been setup to promote the M2M Industry. It has a German focus and its main deliverable is the annual M2M Summit in Dusseldorf.

I will not rate the M2M Alliance since their primary deliverable is the M2M Summit. I attended the 2013 edition and recommend it to anyone that wants to be in the German IoT market.


There is not going to be one consortium or standard that will dominate IoT. IoT is just too big. I also expect more consortiums will be started over the next year. It seems to be the thing to do in a growing industry.

I would welcome any feedback or insight into any of the above rankings. I do expect that things will change and I might update the rankings at a later date.


Published at DZone with permission of Ian Skerrett , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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