The breadth of IoT’s distribution over the coming years will frustrate efforts to harness it as a unified resource. IoT application developers are embedding algorithmic capabilities in resource-constrained endpoints such as mobile phones, business machines, and consumer products of every type. More IoT edges are acquiring the ability to make decisions and take actions autonomously. More IoT devices are embedding machine learning and other sophisticated analytic algorithms.

Though they’re growing more powerful, IoT endpoints will continue to rely on resources located elsewhere in the sprawl, such as on adjacent devices, nearby gateways, and always-on public clouds. We’re moving into a world that’s growing more federated among the disparate IoT domains that must somehow interoperate for mutual advantage.

Every IoT endpoint, device, gateway, platform, cloud, and service is a potential domain unto itself. Each domain will have its own requirements, policies, rules, and constraints with which IoT must ensure compliance. If you want a good graphic overview of a federated IoT infrastructure, check out the diagram in Ajit Jaokar’s recent Data Science Central blog.

As IoT’s disparate nodes flow into and out of myriad federation relationships, they will attempt to achieve mutually beneficial cross-domain terms of engagement. Some of these cross-domain IoT federation agreements will be of long duration, while others will be purely evanescent, on the fly, and in the moment. A great many federation arrangements will focus on managing the end-to-end data/analytics resource requirements of IoT endpoints and other connected resources that process and act on sensor data.

Casting a wide IoT net

How will we ensure that increasingly federated IoT clouds enable dynamic end-to-end management of disparate data/analytics workloads? In this recent DZone/IoTZone article, Denis Canty discusses how IoT’s federation structure is likely to evolve in this new era. He proposes a model in which each IoT cloud, edge, and device will have a corresponding domain that is managed through its own “data management controller (DMC).” According to Canty’s model, federated DMCs could play the pivotal role in dynamically discovering, aggregating, and brokering all the resources — processing, memory, storage, bandwidth, and so on — that each IoT needs.

A federated IoT interoperability model such this will prove absolutely essential for many real-world applications running on mobile phones, embedded sensors, and other resource-constrained endpoints. Many IoT endpoints may not have sufficient local resources for storing all data and executing all algorithms necessary to do their jobs effectively. By the same token, these endpoints may incur a significant performance hit when accessing complementary resources from adjacent nodes and/or IoT clouds.