Ayla, an IoT platform, provides a high level software solution to get things connected, through the idea of virtualisation and digital twins - the digital models that represent the physical device in the cloud. This quarter, the headline take away of what Ayla’s providing in its newest product launch is captured in two main areas, one is helping companies in IoT overcome restriction on a selection of wireless modules. The second is to help streamline enterprise application development - when you have your device connected, and you have this data, what do you do with it?
I spoke with Josh Pederson of Ayla Networks, who explained that nine times out of ten people are creating applications with analytics to unlock that data and Ayla can help them with this.
Ayla offers a solution called the cloud adapter, to make it easier to have more freedom, so you can tie in with other clouds. Through the framework the cloud adapter makes it really easy to tie into other companies, cloud services. Pederson said: “If you wanted your fridge to work with Nest, and Nest is on another cloud, or if you wanted your data from your device to be integrated with cellforce data, which is on another cloud – these can easily be tied in together.”
The main aim from Ayla is to allow customers flexibility and the ability to move their data around really easily and efficiently through a data pipeline. It also aims to reduce latency between a consumer pressing a button on their mobile, to turn on a fan, and the fan actually turning on. The data pipeline flow is really important, Pederson explained: “The idea also works with an operation team within a company, who is responsible for a vast number of products, again let’s say 10,000 refrigerators. How do they manage this? How do they push for more updates? Through the pipeline.
“Finally another element is how do you build on top of your data? How do you develop rapidly and efficiently on that mobile application. The mobile experience might just be for a consumer in a commercial sense, but you need the enterprise application level on top. So how do you deliver the higher level data for your team to understand the consumer usage?”
This is exactly what Ayla is here to help with and provide customers, an application that can work for one company but has different levels to help the different areas and jobs within the organisation.
Pederson stated: “This is how Ayla sees the world of IoT and what an IoT platform should be providing.”
As I said Ayla is focusing on two areas, connectivity and applications, so taking a look at the connectivity side, Ayla provides a high level of understanding that you may have the product, the end-device to focus on or the gateway, but either way, these devices need to connect to the cloud, so they have created the Ayla portable agent.
Additionally, Ayla now runs on the Google cloud platform so there is even more flexibility and choice for customers and infrastructure.
Now the challenge is connecting the end-devices to the cloud through WiFi and cellular products.
If customers have high overhead Ayla supports this with its new module, the Ayla portable agent which acts as a ‘Bring Your Own’ approach to module selection for cellular and WiFi products.
Pederson explained: “You might want to connect your product to another module maker that Ayla doesn’t yet work with. If you have to work on that chipset you have limited options. You could adapt your own embedded team – which can take a year and pushes back the launch of your product. But Ayla is trying to provide more flexibility, so what we have created is what we call portable agent.”
This is a solution when you don’t want to use pre-certified agents, and want something else so by taking the portable agent you can leverage this core networking and security stack that Ayla provides. That is the hard part - then customers can just build around it to suit them and put it on their module of choice.
Problems customers face include a high impact on product time to market, a high impact on product BOM cost, or if customers need to certify their connectivity stack on new modules. The portable agent can help avoid all these problems, and allows the customer a great deal of flexibility. With the portable agent Ayla provides a guide and a test suite so customers can be sure of the quality performance of the chip.
Ayla additionally provides an ecosystem of partners, so you can leverage Ayla’s professional services and the development partners, to ensure customers get the partners and modules that best suit and make sense to them.
Application enablement area
The second focus for Ayla is the application side, AEP (Application Enablement Piece) which touches on mobile and enterprise applications.
Starting with mobile, as IoT is evolving with age we are seeing some interesting challenges emerge for mobile development. One challenge is if you are rolling - out even a basic application, let’s use a smartphone app for example, you need a consumer app – that’s the only app you need for the consumer to play with – you will however need an Android and iOS version.
Today that is completed through two different code bases, which doesn’t seem too bad, but what happens when you need to start providing these in different languages – for both versions, your number of code bases will soon start to increase and that’s just on the consumer side.
What Ayla is also increasingly seeing is on the commercial side, for example with products you may need apps for different people with different job roles in a company.
Pederson used the example of the smart fridge again: “This product will go in restaurants, so we need to create an app for the restaurant staff, we are also going to need another app for the people who install the smart fridge, and then there may need to be a third app for the staff that will need to fix the fridge. All three apps will share functionality, and again you will need an iOS version and Android - right there is just six versions, there will be plenty more needed, especially with location.”
This management can really become a challenge, so the Ayla Mobile Foundry has developed a solution to reduce the complexity of mobile IoT development, and it is really working on a configuration-driven approach.
Pederson added: “What Ayla is doing here at a high level is providing one file that maintains the functionality of apps, which you can then replicate and allow that singular point of functionality to be leveraged by multiple apps.”
This reduces complexity for mobile products, reduces management complexity, and most importantly reduces time-to-market.