IoT platforms comparison: open-source (Kaa IoT) vs. commercial (IoT PaaS) platforms

IoT PaaS Kaa IoT platform
Technology ownership
Technology ownership
You rent a bed You own the house
Code control
Code control
Proprietary and opaque Open-source and transparent
Cost of ownership
Cost of ownership
Annual fee + usage fee + services + support Services + support
Deployment
Deployment
3-rd party cloud Complete freedom: on-premises, cloud, hosted, hybrid
Scalability and security
Scalability and security
Limited visibility and control Full visibility and control
New features
New features
Limited control, slow response (reportedly weeks to months) Absolute control (open-source), continuous integration, under a week typical response
End-to-end solution
End-to-end solution
Fill in the gaps yourself or engage with a VAR / 3-rd party Turnkey, custom solution enablement by KaaIoT
Vendor expertise
Vendor expertise
PaaS Full stack: embedded development to data analytics, machine learning, visualization, etc.
Talent attraction
Talent attraction
Challenging due to the proprietary nature of the platform Straightforward due to the open source and reuse of proven and widely adopted open-source components
Professional services
Professional services
Expensive, shared, on-demand resources Dedicated team; proven and cost-efficient offshore methodology

Five key differences

IoT paradigms

Choosing an IoT platform can be a challenging task in terms of becoming sufficiently knowledgeable about a specific vendor’s offering before getting both feet on board. Nearly as difficult is making an accurate comparison of IoT platforms by the brand since most of the available information is rooted in companies’ unqualifiable marketing hype.

However, two key paradigms for the IoT, which are open-source and commercial platforms, are clearly differentiated on several key lines. Comparing Internet of Things platforms along these lines can help you build a frame of reference for selecting a proper platform for your company’s needs. We believe that unless the factors below are taken under close scrutiny, the selected platform may turn into a waste of time with an unsuitable and costly tool or, in the worst case, into a vendor lock-in.

Kaa is a 100% open-source IoT platform, so it fits perfectly to illustrate what can be the option for IoT enablement other than a commercial PaaS. Kaa also brings its own recipes to address IoT project challenges. While IoT PaaS promise a fast kick-off for IoT application development, Kaa aims to provide a comprehensive IoT platform that guarantees quality and reliability across the entire product lifecycle.

Overall, the following five factors make the biggest difference in our IoT platforms comparison:

Technology ownership

Technology ownership

Kaa comes under the Apache 2.0 license, which is a free software license, giving the full ownership over the final solution as well as the solution’s source code to the user. Every bit of everything under the hood is therefore transparent and open to review. It is also easy to modify things or add custom features as soon as the need arises.

IoT PaaS provides a ready-to-go environment for development, which, however, works as a black box and always will. If someday you want to change things around on your own, add a new feature or integrate with some third-party solutions, there will be very few options at your avail in that room you rented. And there is always a risk of being left out in the cold if the PaaS provider’s business goes south.

Cost

Cost

The math is simple: to use IoT PaaS, you have to pay a rent in the form of annual fee, per-device fee, etc.; Kaa is a free platform. Additional services or support options are available for both.

New features

New features

With Kaa, you have absolute control over the source code of the solution. The most important implication here is that you control the time to market for new features and modules. You can use either in-house development team or request services from KaaIoT, the company behind Kaa - there is no vendor lock-in like with proprietary and PaaS solutions.

With IoT PaaS, you have limited control over new features development, so it might be very important to check that everything fits the bill before subscribing to the service. After that, it’s the PaaS way or the highway.

Interoperability and third-party integration

Interoperability and third-party integration

Building a broad end-to-end solution – where an IoT part is just a link in the chain – is a strategic direction which is not equally feasible with different IoT platforms. IoT PaaS may provide only minimal interfaces for integration with third-party systems and the required integration services may well be out of the PaaS provider’s expertise, which is easy to check beforehand. You will have to fill in the gaps yourself or engage with a third-party development team.

Kaa, as an open-source solution targeted for a broad community of IoT developers, features a variety of established integrations with popular IoT hardware and data processing systems. Kaa is also supported by KaaIoT, a company with in-depth expertise in IoT, embedded development, Big Data, mobility, consumer electronics, and web – allowing you to order a turnkey end-to-end solution at one shop.

Support

Support

The quality of support services is, as a rule, in direct proportion to the amount of provider’s expertise. While most of IoT PaaS providers have been in business for just a few years, KaaIoT is a product IoT development company with over two decades of experience. There’s a large pool of senior software engineers engaged for Kaa development and services, and a cost-efficient offshore methodology is another competitive edge of support services from KaaIoT.

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