Roof Computing With Standard Interfaces Will Harmonise The IoT Ecosystem


In order to ease the efforts of businesses and developers to build secure and scalable applications over the Internet of Things, a unified interfacing and functional model is required. This is where Roof Computing, also known as, IEEE P1931.1 comes in. Read this interview to know what this technology is capable of.

Syam Madanapalli, Chair of IEEE P1931.1, The ROOF Working Group, speaks with Dilin Anand from EFY.

Syam Madanapalli, Chair of IEEE P1931.1, The ROOF Working Group
Syam Madanapalli, Chair of IEEE P1931.1, The ROOF Working Group

Q. Could you give a quick brief about what the P1931.1 standard is?

A. IEEE P1931.1, the upcoming standard for the Roof Computing, is a federated networking and computational paradigm for the Internet of Things (IoT) that is always available for real time onsite operations facilitation including next-hop connectivity for “things” (IoT products), real-time context building and decision triggers, providing efficient data connectivity to the Cloud/Service providers, and always-on security for “things” under the Roof.

Roof is based human evolution under the roofs.The roofs have played a significant role in the human evolution, especially, providing privacy and security for the people and their possessions. In addition, the people under the roof is part of a family or related, there is a trust built among them, and live autonomously within the roof and go outside for creating more value and earning. If there is a problem outside, for example, a strike, the people under the roof would continue to live and function, and will be able to live at least for few days without interacting with the external world. Like humans who are weak when positioned against the nature and anti-social elements, the Internet of Things are weak when exposed over the Internet as the Things in the IoT are constrained devices with limited capabilities to act and protect themselves. Also, a typical IoT deployment involves multiple sensors, actuators and/or other devices and machines, like a family under the roof, and require a trust to be established between the Things under the roof. The Internet of Things operating within the scope that is smaller than the Cloud or the Fog require an environment, wherein they can operate, build trust, collaborate and be secure.

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Q. How will this computing paradigm be deployed?

A. The Roof will be implemented as a software platform on various devices that proxy IoT products and their IoT services to the rest of the world including but not limited to mobile phones, home routers, gateways, personal computers, servers and other computing platforms as appropriate. Roof Computing is placed at few meters away from the Things and far below the Fog and the Cloud.

Q. How does this technology be of help to engineers and developers working with IoT technology?

A. The IoT Gateways and other device that implement the Roof will be able to support the last meter connectivity for the Things. The Roof network architecture reflects the traditional federated networking architecture that is being practiced since the widespread use of the Internet. Roof enhances this model for natural fit into the Internet and Cloud architecture for the Internet of Things.

Q. Could you elaborate on the technicalities of how this technology works?

A. Roof enables building generic IoT gateways that bridge the physical and cyber worlds, and plays a larger role in addressing the interoperability and security challenges among IoT devices, and will lower the cost and infrastructure complexity for end consumers, enterprises, and industrial environments which will result in reliable, scalable, stable, resilient and trustworthy IoT Networks. To realize this, Roof will provide a set of standard interfaces for device connectivity, cloud and application provider connectivity, managing the devices, privacy and security, and to be able to dynamically discover the new opportunities to improve the collaboration among the smart devices/sensors. These standard interfaces would allow companies to focus on their strength instead of developing end-to-end solution which is complex, expensive and time consuming, allowing developers and companies to innovate new applications, services and business models. If successfully implemented, Roof can expedite the growth of highly-connected and robust Internet of Things.

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Q. What do you feel about how companies with any Internet connected device are using the label “IoT” for their product?

A. Most businesses are hijacking the IoT to depict IoT and its value depending on what product or services these companies offer. IoT deals with the physical world, and deployed for a mission that requires it to function autonomously over a period of time, irrespective of what else is happening elsewhere, like a family under the roof. For example, an IoT deployment in a factory should continue to function if there is fibre cut outside the factory that disrupts the cloud connectivity. The Things in the Internet of Things should operate and co-operate in a secure and independent manner within the context of a local environment such as home, factory, office or airport etc. They need only connect into the fog or cloud only for added value including data storage and analytics on the data stored for future predictions.

Q. What is the biggest benefit to an engineer building IoT systems, once ROOF Computing comes into the picture?

A. Ability to provide autonomous operations, secure communications and privacy by design are the fundamental to the Roof Architecture. In addition, Roof harmonises the IoT ecosystem. Most of the today’s IoT solutions are vendor driven and vertically segmented – the vendor provides devices, IoT hub/gateway and cloud services. Unless the vendor is a big player in the market, it is unlikely that one will be able to get a new device to attach to their gateway. Roof with standard interfaces will harmonise the IoT ecosystem and allows to build more generic IoT gateways and cloud services such that one can choose devices from any vendor and get the services from any other vendor.

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Q. Could you throw some light on how it can be used to securely manage devices?

A. Conforming to the Roof standard means starting with security on day one. Roof avoids exposing IoT devices directly over the Internet to isolate the devices from being accessible directly by anyone on the Internet. Roof provides multi-level security, analyses threats using context building and requires two-factor authorisation for suspected activities. Roof will support authenticating to multiple service providers securely, and manage data access and privacy.

Q. How does it reduce the implementation barrier by leveraging existing standards and frameworks?

A. Roof has the capability to harmonise the IoT ecosystem by allowing individual components of the IoT system to evolve independently. This allows innovation for new business models and lower the barrier for entry for device manufacturers, service providers and other ecosystem players. This allows the development of devices and other solutions, and take them into market. In addition, Roof enables the rapid development of new innovative services based on existing devices by allowing access to multiple service providers. Roof also provides ability to choose and switch to any equivalent service providers, e.g. an user can choose and switch to any IoT enabled home insurance provider as his home insurance provider; this enables competitive market.



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