Arrow Electronics gives IoT a voice, connects devices to communications tools

by Dave Michels

Companies get into IoT for multiple reasons. In the case of Arrow, the Internet of Things (IoT) was thrust upon it. Now, however, Arrow Electronics is trailblazing into IoT platform services.

Last year, Arrow did nearly $24 billion in revenue that was largely split between two businesses: electronic components and enterprise computing solutions. Historically, these two divisions had little overlap, but IoT has bridged the two units.

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A similar story is occurring at organizations everywhere as IoT converts disconnected things into computing peripherals. For example, hospital refrigerators that store blood and medicine are increasingly integrated into intelligent building management and communications systems.

The default formula is that every smart system has its own management platform. Each requires specialized administration and integration. This approach is limited in options and scale.

Arrow Connect: Middleware for IoT

Arrow saw an opportunity to fill the gap between its two businesses. It created an IoT platform service called Arrow Connect. Arrow Connect follows a middleware approach that supports two-way communications. It can connect things to things or systems, or Arrow Connect can simply be used as an IoT data repository. Connect also has programmatic logic that can be used to trigger events based on data.

One advantage of a platform approach is the ability to combine independent systems. For example, a motion alert from generic motion sensors could trigger lighting, text notifications and other systems. The key to Arrow Connect is its extensive collection of libraries and integrations.

Arrow Connect links IoT to communications platforms

Arrow Connect can also give the IoT a voice. Arrow has used its expertise in Avaya to create Connect SDKs for both Avaya Breeze and Zang. Avaya Breeze is a drag-and-drop development tool that gives developers access to SMS text, database, web services, decision logic, context store, call processing, etc. Zang, an Avaya subsidiary, offers communications through a service API model.

The Arrow Quick-Start IoT Developer Toolkit includes three-month accounts with the Avaya Collaboratory and Arrow Connect, a test IoT sensor, and technical support. The toolkit provides the resources necessary to implement a proof-of-concept communications workflow. Arrow claims that new workflows can go from concept to reality in minutes.

Additionally, there’s really no limit to the types of devices or data that Arrow Connect can link. Arrow Connect supports APIs for dozens of web services that can be invoked from any language or platform, and developers can use Python, Java, Windows or Linux.

An IoT platform approach is very versatile, as just about any type of IoT device can become intelligent and integrated into a larger workflow, for example, a fleet management system that could collect data from a variety of unrelated systems, such as vehicle weight, speed, fuel, cargo temperature and location.

Arrow Connect interfaces with help desk systems

Arrow Connect can also interface with systems such as ServiceNow. Based on the data collected, it can automatically open a service ticket. And if the ticket is not closed within a defined time period, Arrow Connect can escalate notifications to calls or texts. Rules can be built that start applications, send emails, send text messages, run analytics, etc.

The upshot? The path to intelligent, managed IoT continues to get easier. The many emerging platform services such as Arrow Connect each have slightly different benefits. Some of the large cloud providers offer more compute services, but Arrow’s extensive collection of device libraries and expertise in compute and communications make for a powerful combination.

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