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Google Lets Companies Manage Millions of Devices Remotely

Google’s service for connecting and managing millions of Internet of Things devices, ranging from sensors embedded in an oil pipeline to tracking systems installed in city buses, is generally available. The company said that the IoT Core could be used to feed information into the machine learning algorithms in its public cloud.

Google has targeted the Internet of Things to differentiate its cloud from rivals Amazon and Microsoft. The company said that the service would cost only a fraction of a cent per megabyte. But these fragments could add up with billions of embedded devices that companies may have to disconnect and reconnect, monitor and manage, and patch for several years.

Google recently acquired Xively, which helps companies connect devices to an Internet of Things network and manage them remotely, for $50 million. The company expects to add around 45 employees from Xively, which earned $3 million last year from customers like smart home supplier Lutron and smoke alarm maker Halo, while logging $13 million of expenses.

The service supports Google’s Android Things embedded operating system, which can be used inside microcontrollers and other low power processors. The company has also partnered with Intel, Cisco, NXP and other companies to make more hardware compatible with a service for “globally distributed devices,” said Indranil Chakraborty, product manager for IoT Core.

“Previously, we needed to individually set up each sensor,” said John Heard, chief technology officer of Smart Parking, which uses IoT Core to install sensors that monitor parking spaces in cities, in a statement. “Now we allocate manufactured batches of devices into IoT Core for site deployments and then, using a simple activation smartphone app, the onsite installation technician can activate the sensor or device in moments.”

Google has also partnered with ARM, which introduced last year a rival cloud platform for device management. On Thursday, the company updated mbed Cloud to let customers manage millions of devices from a private instead of a public cloud. It also plans to support simpler devices that lack the processing and memory to support internet protocols stacks, like HTTP.

“Due to regulations, legal liabilities, financial considerations or simply technical limitations, many companies favor an on-premise deployment over a cloud deployment,” said Dipesh Patel, president of ARM’s IoT services group, in a blog post. He added that private clouds can provide stronger security and lower the bar for businesses to integrate legacy systems.

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