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How JSON and Big Data Will Shape the Internet of Things

RESTful APIs a key component in data interactions

The catchphrase "Internet of Things" may seem like a relatively new term, but in reality has been around since the late ‘90s, when there was a desire to more efficiently track the flow of goods for supply chain purposes. The enabling technology was RFID which made it possible to report on stock levels and inventory in real-time.

These days, the term "Internet of Things" has a much broader meaning than just supply chain technology. In the many years that have passed, big data and mobile technology have grown by leaps and bounds. This means that it is possible to crunch large amounts of sensor data and deliver context-relevant information to users on their smartphones. As a consequence, just about any physical object out there can be measured as long as there are sensors that can transmit this information. This has huge implications for global economic growth, and could lead to a 2 percent to 5 percent gain in GDP in 2025, according to a report from the Progressive Policy Institute

For relevant sensor data to be delivered, every single "Thing" that is connected to the internet needs to have an API that allows access to key data elements. This data must also be readily streamed quickly into a Big Data cluster so that contextual information can be served up in a timely manner.

While the API is a key component of ensuring that data is accessed in a RESTful manner, the format of the payload is also equally as important. JSON is not as verbose as XML and consequently does not contain detailed processing instructions. Being a lightweight data interchange format, it is faster to use JSON to send bits of data from a sensor. The increasing popularity of REST over SOAP in newer APIs only foreshadows greater usage of JSON as the preferred data interchange format.

To answer the question of why JSON would be the most widely used format for the Internet of Things, one only need look at the rapid development of Raspberry Pi, which started a little over two-and-a-half years ago, and has gained massive traction worldwide. This credit-card sized microcomputer is extensible, and a recent project called RaZberry has turned it into a device capable of controlling your home automation through - you guessed it - a JSON interface. With future development of the Internet of Things, the proliferation of JSON as the preferred data delivery mechanism will only increase.

Even more interesting is how this data can be fed into a Big Data cluster to perform predictive modeling and analytics. Just over a year ago, Google BigQuery added support for JSON and explicitly mentions how sensor data and its attributes can be measured as a consequence. With time, it is only inevitable that developers in other Big Data ecosystems will use JSON when setting up their clusters to perform analytics from the various source data from the Internet of Things.

We have an exciting few years ahead of us in the technology industry and the Internet of Things will play a large part in it. With the enabling technology of JSON, and the growth of Big Data, we are sure to witness many new breathtaking innovations in this area.

More Stories By Ashwin Viswanath

Ashwin Viswanath is an accomplished platform product marketer and product manager with several years’ industry experience in Fortune 500 enterprise software companies such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Oracle. At Sun, Ashwin was responsible for growing the Windows business unit by several million dollars during the recent 2008 recession. He also worked at NetSuite where he was focused on the platform. He has deep platform experience working with Windows Azure, Force.com, Heroku and Cloud Foundry. Ashwin currently works at Informatica. You can follow Ashwin on Twitter @Ash__V. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.

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