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InfoQ Homepage News Akamai IoT Edge Connect Brings MQTT to its Serverless Edge Platform

Akamai IoT Edge Connect Brings MQTT to its Serverless Edge Platform

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Akamai IoT Edge Connect, part of Akamai Edge Cloud, provides a fully managed service for the operation of IoT devices with auto-scaling, failover, and data synchronization.

Akamai IoT Edge Connect runs on Akamai Edge Platform, which brings IoT infrastructure close to devices thanks to a network of edge nodes available in over 140 countries. According to Akamai, this provides real-time connectivity at scale and ease of scalability. Among the advantages of Akamai IoT Edge Connect, says Akamai, is a robust implementation of publish-subscribe messaging protocol MQTT that is specifically aimed to IoT applications due to its small footprint and suitability to use with low-bandwidth and intermittent networks. In addition, it attempts to address security concerns at the network level by providing support for mutual authentication and allowing customers to choose and customize the TLS versions and ciphers they use.

InfoQ has spoken with Lior Netzer, vice-president and CTO of IoT at Akamai Technologies to learn more.

InfoQ: What are the major challenges for IoT applications in the next few years? What factors can determine their success or failure?

Lior Netzer: IoT has reached a point of maturity when IoT projects are migrating from the lab to large scale adoption. From our vantage point, the most critical challenges IoT developers face center on production infrastructure scale and performance.

Even common situations such as large volumes of concurrent connections, validating and enforcing authentication credentials, etc. can quickly overwhelm most existing cloud IoT services and enterprise MQTT brokers.

MQTT has focused on centralized servers by design, yet IoT devices are found broadly around the world. Ensuring a consistent user experience is critical to the success or failure of an IoT project.

Scaling IoT applications across multiple data centers, whether for resilience or performance, is exceptionally challenging. Most existing MQTT solutions are designed for single data center use-only, compromising safety, consistency, and performance.

InfoQ: Could you describe how Akamai provides value to IoT developers? How does the Akamai ecosystem look like? And what differentiates Akamai from competitors in the IoT arena?

Netzer: Akamai has recently introduced its new IoT Edge Connect (IEC) platform as part of the Akamai Edge Cloud.

IEC is the first edge cloud IoT service, putting a fully deployed, serverless edge platform close to devices in the hands of developers.

IEC provides the only 100% ISO-compliant MQTT broker service available from a cloud provider. All features, such as QoS 2 support, retained messages, last will and testament, etc. found in standalone brokers are found in Akamai’s IoT Edge Connect platform. Our vision was to enable developers to use standard, open source client software to transparently migrate from existing enterprise MQTT brokers to a cloud service. No proprietary client software is required. IEC also provides converged HTTP-MQTT messaging, enabling HTTP-enabled devices to participate transparently with MQTT-enabled devices.

IEC is a geo-replicated edge service which sits close to devices, reducing radio overhead and improving performance. IEC takes full advantage of Akamai’s global edge footprint across 140 countries to provide superior scale and reliability vs. centralized cloud services.

IEC also incorporates data streams that automatically aggregate all IoT data to feed backend analytics and Big Data systems and a key-value database to enable developers to store critical data (up to 256MB per object) close to devices for more consistent performance.

InfoQ. Speaking of security, which, of all the factors that shape an IoT solution, is the one that can cause most worries in end-users and hamper adoption? What suggestions can you provide for developers to build secure devices and services? How does Akamai help in that respect?

Netzer: The most critical security improvement comes from the adoption of brokered protocols such as MQTT vs classic client-server protocols such as HTTP. Because IoT is frequently characterized by bidirectional communication at enormous scale, it’s critical that developers use protocols designed to reduce the attack surface at the device level. Brokered protocols create a “walled garden” without open ports on devices, within which authenticated access controls can be applied per-user, per-device at the application level.

Akamai’s IEC provides extensive access controls with a default “whitelist-only” policy, preventing spurious device-to-device communication.

Akamai’s IEC provides built-in DDoS resilience by distributing connection, authentication, and authorization overhead across the global Akamai platform.

Akamai’s IEC provides built-in bad actor detection to automatically contain faulty or compromised devices.

Akamai IoT Edge Connect and IoT Edge Cloud are premium solutions. Free trials are available to help evaluate their performance.

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