IoT 3 mins read

Will LWM2M deliver its promise of IoT plug and play?

A protocol called LMW2M® adoption is growing across sectors from utilities to smart cities, helping to drive usage of the IoT.

Stefan Vaillant Stefan Vaillant

A protocol called Lightweight M2M’s (LMW2M®) adoption is growing across sectors from utilities to smart cities, helping to drive usage of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Whether you are monitoring water pipelines in remotest Australia or measuring the vibration of oil drilling equipment in North Dakota, you somehow must get that data to where it can be analyzed. How? Start with standards. 

For the emerging IoT market, standards are imperative. Compared to other standards (e.g. MQTT), LWM2M has been designed to provide a plug and play user experience: Pick an IoT device from any vendor from the warehouse, connect it to your IoT platform (like Cumulocity IoT), and immediately use it without software development.

As IoT usage continues to grow so does the need to manage and use remote sensors and devices in areas with intermittent connectivity – and those situated far from power connections. LWM2M provides a standardized way to manage these devices and send telemetry data, drawn in by the sensors, cost-effectively to the cloud.

For example, in Australia, water utility pipelines can stretch thousands of miles from broadband and power lines. In order to monitor them for leaks and breakages, utilities must install low-power sensors to collect the data from pipes and pumps. The data then has to be communicated to a central system where it can be analyzed to help detect and prevent leaks, tampering and contamination.

Why LWM2M?

LWM2M is emerging as the standard protocol for IoT device management and IoT business data exchange. It is an open protocol from the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), designed for mobile, low-power devices with limited compute power.

So that sensors and devices can be managed centrally and viewed remotely, LWM2M defines a common language for the communication between devices and IoT platforms. With LWM2M this also includes the metadata, which describes the actual data exchanged. The IoT platform needs the metadata to understand the capabilities of a given device and interpret the data sent by the device. With LWM2M, metadata is conveniently stored in a central repository in the cloud, making IoT plug and play a reality.

Using the metadata and efficient data encoding allows devices to minimize the transmission of data. Saving bandwidth accelerates transmission as well as reduces communication costs for mobile networks: Every kilobyte saved counts if you have rollout plans for millions of water meters.

Device management

Remember, we are talking about managing a massive number of remote, constrained objects. What happens when a device behaves atypically? Can it be rebooted? Isolated? Can the security credentials be replaced? What about providing critical firmware updates?

These aspects are covered by device management functionality of the IoT platform. Market-leading IoT platforms like Cumulocity IoT provide out-of-the box device management applications to, for example, manage the software and firmware of device from web-based user interfaces. And the cloud-based application needs a counterpart at the device side.

Traditionally these require time-consuming and expensive project-based development. Here is where LWM2M kicks in: LWM2M precisely defines all device management operations, so an LWM2M-confirming device can manage devices without development from day one.

Software AG’s Technology Radar recommends clients adopt LWM2M for IoT. Our radar evaluates current technologies and gives recommendations about their use. Especially where plug and play with various device vendors is important – like in smart city deployments.

For more information on LWM2M and other trending technologies please click below.