FrameFlow Uses MQTT to Monitor IoT Sensors and Devices
"IoT Day 2014" by Medialab Prado is licensed under CC BY 2.0

FrameFlow Leverages Versatile MQTT Protocol to Monitor IoT Sensors and Devices

As FrameFlow evolves with our maturing technological landscape, we are pleased to announce that our software is now capable of monitoring a virtually unlimited range of devices by the leveraging the power of Message Queue Telemetry Transport, aka MQTT. Why is this important? MQTT is a versatile and lightweight messaging protocol that is finding an increasing number of applications on the Internet of Things (IoT).

What Is The MQTT Protocol?

MQTT is a publish/subscribe messaging protocol based on topics. MQTT is designed for distributed devices with limited computational power and battery life, typically operating on low-bandwidth networks with latency and/or reliability issues. Devices on these networks can easily publish a message to a topic. Other devices, including FrameFlow IT monitoring software, can subscribe to one or more topics and receive messages as they are sent by the publisher:

The design principles are to minimize network bandwidth and device resource requirements whilst also attempting to ensure reliability and some degree of assurance of delivery. These principles also turn out to make the protocol ideal for the emerging “machine-to-machine” (M2M) or “Internet of Things” world of connected devices, and for mobile applications where bandwidth and battery power are at a premium. MQTT.org

Applications of MQTT on The Internet of Things

The potential applications of M2M communications are really only limited by our imagination. On a household scale, for example, your washing machine will soon be able to sense that someone turned on the shower and temporarily pause itself until it’s safe to use the hot water again. On a larger scale, we could have much smarter traffic grids that can direct vehicles based on traffic patterns, weather conditions, construction and unexpected events like accidents or a water main that bursts in the dead of winter.

One the keys to operating on the IoT is the capacity for the machines and sensors to easily and reliably communicate metrics like temperature, pressure, volume etc. with each other in real time. The MQTT messaging protocol is ideally suited for such M2M communications:

M2M communication is often used for remote monitoring. In product restocking, for example, a vending machine can message the distributor when a particular item is running low. M2M communication is an important aspect of warehouse management, remote control, robotics, traffic control, logistic services, supply chain management, fleet management and telemedicine. It forms the basis for a concept known as the Internet of Things (IoT). – IoT Agenda TechTarget

Origin of MQTT

MQTT was developed in 1999 by Dr. Andy Stanford-Clark of IBM, and Arlen Nipper of Arcom, largely out of a growing need to facilitate reliable communication with a divergent array of remotely connected machines, operating on highly limited networks:

Being dissatisfied with the current technologies, both were working on projects to help get remote data onto disparate devices. They were seeking to leverage communications among devices using reduced network bandwidth and providing assured message delivery in a very constrained environment with (a) high latency, (b) devices that were limited in capacity and power and (c) expensive and even unreliable networks. Think of it as a messaging protocol to be used for sensors, meters, actuators and so on. – IBM developerWorks

MQTT Rescues Facebook Messanger

Fast forward from the days of dial-up in 1999, when MQTT was invented, more than a decade to 2011 where MQTT played a pivotal and timely role, under the hood, in the creation of one of the most widely adopted applications on earth, Facebook Messenger:

With just a few weeks until launch, we ended up building a new mechanism that maintains a persistent connection to our servers. To do this without killing battery life, we used a protocol called MQTT… specifically designed for applications like sending telemetry data to and from space probes, so it is designed to use bandwidth and batteries sparingly. By maintaining an MQTT connection and routing messages through our chat pipeline, we were able to often achieve phone-to-phone delivery in the hundreds of milliseconds, rather than multiple seconds. – Facebook Engineering

Importance of Monitoring IoT Sensors & Devices

Providing machines with the ability to quickly and reliably talk to each other is one of the obvious benefits of the IoT, but the capacity to collect data from sensors about their performance or a variety of critical conditions (think temperature and humidity in a server room) in real time, for analysis and corrective adjustments, is transformative:

The Internet of Things really comes together with the connection of sensors and machines. That is to say, the real value that the Internet of Things creates is at the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it. All the information gathered by all the sensors in the world isn’t worth very much if there isn’t an infrastructure in place to analyze it in real time. – Wired.com

FrameFlow Now Integrates with MQTT

At FrameFlow we’re super excited about our new 100% capacity to operate over the MQTT protocol to collect and analyze data from virtually an unlimited variety of IoT sensors and devices; in fact, our server and IT systems monitoring software can simultaneously operate very well on over 10,000 devices in a single installation! Very few vendors in the server and IT monitoring space can say that. Sound interesting? Why not give FrameFlow a Free Trial spin for 30 days… no obligation or credit card required!