Enterprises are deploying Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to collect and manage data from devices and increase returns. However, enterprises are facing various challenges in building a powerful IoT system. Alibaba Cloud IoT Platform offers solutions to these challenges and has advantages over user-created MQTT clusters and MQTT servers.

Differences between IoT Platform and user-created MQTT clusters

The following table describes the differences of capabilities between Alibaba Cloud IoT Platform and user-created MQTT clusters.

Item IoT Platform User-created MQTT cluster
Cost-effectiveness

Supports multiple billing methods, including pay-as-you-go and subscription.

Supports automatic scaling to meet business growth.
Supports the subscription billing method, which requires a one-time investment in IaaS resources.

Requires manual scaling to meet business growth.

Device connection

Provides device SDKs to establish connections between devices and IoT Platform. IoT Platform supports connections to devices around the world. These devices include devices in heterogeneous networks, devices that run in various environments, and devices that run based on different protocols.

Supports stable connections to hundreds of millions of devices, and automatic scaling. IoT Platform processes device messages within 50 ms.

Requires the efforts of embedded system developers and cloud developers in infrastructure deployment. The development features high workloads and low efficiency.

The architecture may have difficulties in maintaining stable connections to millions of devices. If a large number of devices go online or offline at the same time, the platform may break down.

Concurrency Processes millions of concurrent messages and supports horizontal scaling. The core message processing system uses a stateless architecture without failure dependency. If a message fails to be sent, IoT Platform automatically retries. The architecture may have difficulties in processing millions of concurrent messages. A large number of concurrent upstream and downstream messages have negative impacts on the system. The load balancing feature is not supported. The business is affected during peak hours.
Security Supports three levels of Multi-Level Protection Scheme (MLPS) 2.0 to protect device data.
  • The access layer uses high Anti-DDoS Pro to prevent DDoS attacks.
  • Device authentication is supported to guarantee the security and uniqueness of devices.
  • Device data transmission supports TLS encryption to prevent data tampering.
  • Important keys and data are encrypted to prevent thefts.
  • Alibaba Cloud Security and permission control ensure data security in IoT Platform.
  • IoT Platform is protected by the Alibaba Cloud security team.
Requires the development and deployment of security measures. Securing device data is a challenge.

If an enterprise does not have security professionals or sufficient security awareness, the enterprise cannot eliminate security risks in a timely manner.

Availability

Adopts multi-data center deployment to eliminate failure dependency.

Guarantees the 99.9% service availability. If the guaranteed service availability is not reached, claims will be settled based on the relevant standard. IoT Platform can detect a fault within 1 minute, locate a fault within 5 minutes, and troubleshoot a fault within 20 minutes.
Requires manual troubleshooting. If an MQTT cluster does not respond during data migration, you must locate and resolve the error. Service may be interrupted during the data migration. Therefore, service availability is not guaranteed.

Provides no quantitative service availability. Errors must be handled by the technical team and the O&M team. The timeliness of error handling cannot be guaranteed. Enterprises must bear the losses that are caused by the errors.

Ease of use Supports plug-and-play deployment, and provides a console, device SDKs, and IoT Platform SDKs to simplify development and deployment.

Provides a one-stop device management platform that monitors devices in real time. IoT Platform is also integrated with multiple Alibaba Cloud services. IoT Platform allows you to build complex IoT applications with ease.

Supports Thing Specification Language (TSL) models. TSL models eliminate the need to define data syntax, and simplify data analysis and visualization.

Provides a comprehensive monitoring and alert platform. After you configure the alert settings, you can receive alerts in real time if a system or business exception occurs.

Provides APIs and supports data transfer among devices, IoT Platform, and business servers.
Requires server deployment to build a load-balanced distributed architecture, and requires considerable investment into an IoT system that handles connection, computing, and storage requests.

Provides no consoles. Enterprises must set up both the frontend and backend. The device connection management, lifecycle management, and remote O&M are complex.

Global access IoT Platform is globallyavailable in six regions. The regions are distributed in Asia, Europe, and North America. Your devices can be connected to the nearest access points.

Provides the domain acceleration feature to reduce the latency in global communications.

Complies with GDPR provisions to ensure data security.
Requires high costs to deploy devices in other regions. High latency is required to access these devices. Security compliance must also be considered.
Synchronous server call Supports synchronous RRPC responses. Unsupported.
Data parsing based on custom protocols Supports data parsing based on custom protocols. The related scripts are hosted on the cloud. Unsupported. The data must be parsed by business servers.
Data forwarding Supports data forwarding among various cloud services by using the rules engine. Unsupported. Coding is required to implement the data forwarding feature.
Device shadow Supported.
OTA updates Supports multiple firmware update modes.
Logging Supports the log query feature and large-scale log storage.
Real-time Monitoring Visualizes real-time metric data on charts, and supports threshold-based alerts and event alerts.