What is MQTT?
Co-inventor, Andy Stanford-Clark explains his vision of billions of digital appliances, from smartphones to sensors in homes, cars, trains and machines of all kinds, that would communicate with each other to automate tasks and make life better for all. Mr Stanford-Clark’s vision of what he calls “the Internet of Things” is inspiring and as you will see if you watch the video below, wholly believable. Certainly there are some problems to overcome in getting all the smartish gadgets to talk to each other and that’s where a group of of technology companies — including Cisco Systems, I.B.M., Red Hat and Tibco have come up with the idea that a technology with a mouthful of a name is the answer.
They have introduced the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport protocol as an open standard through an international standards organization, Oasis.
Here is what Steve Lohr of The New York Times wrote:
MQTT, the less-than-catchy abbreviation for the software, is not really a lingua franca for machine-to-machine communication, but a messenger and carrier for data exchange. MQTT’s advocates compare its potential role in the Internet of Things to that played by the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, on the Web. HTTP is the foundation of data communication on the Web.
MQTT’s origins go back nearly two decades. Its co-inventor, Andy Stanford-Clark, who holds the title of distinguished engineer at I.B.M., has long been a passionate home-automation tinkerer. His laboratory has been his house, a 16th-century stone cottage with a thatched roof on the Isle of Wight, in the English Channel. His electronic gadgets range from temperature and energy monitors to an automated mousetrap. His TedX talk explains the back story.
His home automation projects required machine-to-machine data communication, and Mr. Stanford-Clark wrote his own code.
At I.B.M. he became immersed in the technology for machine-to-machine communication in the late 1990s, when the company was working with industry partners to mine sensor data from offshore oil rigs for preventive and predictive maintenance.
One of those industry partners was Arlen Nipper, an American engineer and expert in embedded systems for oil field equipment. Together they wrote the initial version of MQTT in 1998. They kept improving their open-source messenger software over the years.
“Our goal was to give it enough legs so that it could make a difference,” Mr. Stanford-Clark said.
It has made steady progress, and is used by many industrial companies and others. Facebook, for example, has adopted MQTT for the live notifications it sends to Facebook users on devices running Apple’s iOS software — that is, iPhones and iPads.
Formally going through the standardization process is an endorsement that should help further. And there is increasing demand for machine-to-machine communications. Vijay Sankaran, director of application development for Ford, said improved message-handling technology will be vital to the company’s plans for automated diagnostics and new consumer services.