Innovation

VMware launches Liota, an open source SDK to fight gateway problem in IoT

VMware recently announced Liota, an open source developer kit for building secure IoT apps that can work across multiple gateways.

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On Thursday, VMware announced Liota, a vendor-neutral IoT software development kit (SDK) that could make it easier to build apps for collecting and utilizing the data from connected devices.

Liota stands for "Little IoT Agent," and its goal is to decouple IoT data from the devices that produce it, in hopes of making the data more secure and easier to analyze. Being that it is vendor-agnostic, it allows companies to create an IoT application that could work across multiple gateways, regardless of who created them.

SEE: The Power of IoT and Big Data (Tech Pro Research)

The announcement came in the form of a blog post by Bask Iyer, senior vice president and CIO of VMware. In his post Iyer specifically pointed out that the SDK could be used for "building secure IoT gateway data and control orchestration applications."

In addition to decoupling, or splitting, the data from the connected device, these gateways also act as a sort of bridge to move the data to the cloud or the data center. Liota aims to provide the types of libraries needed to develop the apps that will help connect and orchestrate that data movement.

With all the growth IoT has experienced in the past few years, the gateway component has proved one of its biggest hindrances. In a University of Michigan paper on the subject, the authors equate our current approach to IoT (with proprietary vendor gateways) to "requiring a new web browser for each website." In short, it isn't scalable.

But, Liota's ability to work with other IoT systems without vendor preference could be one step forward in helping to solve one of the IoT market's most pressing needs.

"Liota has been generalized to allow, via modules, interaction with any data-center component, over any transport, and for any IoT gateway," Iyer wrote.

So far, Iyer said that Liota has been tested with VMware products like AirWatch, vRealize Operations Manager, and the open source tool Graphite. Iyer also quoted Jason Shepherd, director of IoT strategy and partnerships at Dell, who mentioned that Liota works with Dell Edge Gateways as well.

For developers, Iyer said the goal of Liota is to help eliminate some of the mundane backend operations so they can focus more on innovation. Liota being open source could also be key to its potential success, as TechRepublic columnist Jack Wallen argued how critical open source will be to the future of the IoT ecosystem.

SEE: 10 ways to capitalize on the Internet of Things (TechRepublic)

Still, even if Liota is widely adopted, it only solves part of the problem of IoT development. IoT projects are still plagued by unrealistic expectations of what is involved, and a lack of clarity when it comes to actually building out the hardware itself. Although, Liota could be a step in the right direction.

Liota is available now on Github, and it works with any gateway or OS that supports Python.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. VMware recently launched Liota, an open source SDK for IoT development that could help developers build gateway data and control orchestration apps that are vendor-agnostic, solving the problem of multiple gateways in an IoT deployment.
  2. Liota could potentially help better decouple data from IoT devices, and make it easier to analyze that data and securely transport it to the cloud or a data center.
  3. Despite the problems that Liota could solve, IoT development has a host of other problems in terms of unrealistic expectations and lack of standards that also need to be addressed.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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