GCF adds mobile-industry scale to IoT standardisation

  • 01 Jul 2019
  • Bob Flynn - Chordant Inc, Ken Figueredo - Convida Wireless

A typical Internet of Things (IoT) use case involves a connected device, machine or sensor sending data to an IoT application for remote-monitoring or control purposes. One example is an application for a fleet of connected vehicles to manage just-in-time deliveries, in real-time. Another involves data monitoring of a high-value machine for predictive maintenance purposes.

In all IoT solutions, there is a middleware component that manages connectivity and communications between edge devices and their IoT applications. oneM2M is an open standard for this middleware capability. It consists of a set of common service functions, such as registration, data management, device management and security. It is the hidden hand that ensures robust and reliable IoT applications.

The benefit of standardising common functions in a horizontal architecture is to make them re-usable across many IoT applications and in different IoT verticals - and what business doesn’t like the idea of building their applications once and re-using the common elements many times over. Service providers can do exactly this, through standardisation which equips them with the middleware tools for building scalable and interoperable IoT solutions.  

In February 2019, the Global Certification Forum (GCF) and South Korea’s Telecommunications Technology Association (TTA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This was a significant milestone for the IoT market, recognising the critical importance of mobile technologies in IoT-enabled solutions.

TTA is one of the founding members of oneM2M and is actively involved in the adoption of oneM2M standards across South Korea. TTA played a pathfinder role in recognising the need to test and certify IoT solutions. It was the organisation to certify the earliest oneM2M offerings from device suppliers, as well as IoT platform providers.

Today, the MoU brings GCF’s global reach and expertise in certifying devices to the 3GPP standard to a significantly larger market, one that is projected to exceed many tens of billions of connected devices over the coming years.

Since the MoU was signed oneM2M and GCF representatives held a joint workshop to agree detailed descriptions for conformance and interoperability testing frameworks.

Conformance and Interoperability Testing

The first of these frameworks -conformance testing, aims to demonstrate that a system meets the standard defined in oneM2M technical specifications. The early applications of the standard focused on IoT platforms and the first platform to pass these tests is known as the golden reference. It will be used for future test system validation.

The second testing framework addresses the interoperability challenge. An example may involve two platforms, based on the oneM2M standard, being able to cooperate with one another. Another example is a connected device or sensor from one vendor being able to work in a standardised manner with an IoT platform supplied by a second vendor. It is evident from the success of mobile roaming and messaging that interoperability capabilities are vital for large-scale industries such as mobile and the IoT. oneM2M has long known this issue and routinely hosts multi-company ‘InterOp’ testing events around the world. Numerous companies have tested their oneM2M offerings against one another, thereby improving their products and helping oneM2M to enhance the clarity of its technical specifications.

The benefits of certification

Testing is a valuable product development tool for vendors and solution providers and is a way of proving correct implementation of architecture, functionality and interoperability. Nevertheless, commercial success depends on market adoption for which testing alone is not enough.

Instead, certification is necessary, providing consumer assurance and a sense of quality. It generates confidence that specific devices will be compatible with the applications they support. For these reasons, the collaboration between GCF and oneM2M is vital and strategically important for the future of the IoT.

What’s next for GCF and oneM2M?

There is a growing interest in oneM2M testing from service providers and mobile network operators across the industry. Service providers are looking at demand for third-party testing solutions and services. Meanwhile, mobile network operators want to test their IoT platforms and prepare to address interoperability requirements.

Within oneM2M, members are working on broadening the scope of testing. The advent of low-power devices and embedded chip sets, which support NB-IoT technologies, will significantly expand the scope of test scripts. In anticipation of this development, oneM2M is developing testing profiles for sensor and actuator devices as well as gateways that can support oneM2M common services that typically reside in cloud platforms.

As the market for open standard IoT solutions grows, oneM2M looks forward to building on its collaboration with GCF.

For more information on oneM2M’s current work, visit: www.oneM2M.org.