Microsoft, Amazon & Huawei Lead the Overall IoT Platform Landscape in Completeness; ClearBlade & FogHorn Emerge as Leading Edge-Focused IoT Platforms

CISCO, Arm, and Google lead with end-to-end security and orchestration capabilities, whereas, PTC, Nutanix & WebNMS scores well on several Application Enablement capabilities.

San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – May 19, 2020

Counterpoint Research has completed its latest in-depth analysis using its proprietary CORE (COmpetitive Rankings & Evaluation) framework evaluating the leading 20 IoT platform players on more than 35 capabilities and ecosystem success parameters highlighting completeness, comprehensiveness, and competitiveness.

IoT is becoming more pervasive as more and more devices are being connected to the cloud via the internet to monitor, analyze, and take action. However, there is an increasing need for real-time collection, processing, and analysis of this data within the device or nearby gateway i.e. close to or actually at the edge of the network so that actions can be taken almost instantaneously. This is leading us to the intelligent edge or Intelligent Internet of Everything (IIoE) in which real-time AI/ML-based computing is embedded at the network’s edge.

Commenting on this trend, VP Research, Peter Richardson, highlighted, “The next wave of digital transformation will be driven by these intelligent edge devices and corresponding highly scalable and secure IoT software platforms with edge computing capabilities. As a result, we are seeing multiple edge-first IoT platforms entering the market. These players are looking to compete or partner with incumbent cloud-first IoT platform players who themselves have also been strengthening their edge IoT capabilities.”

Exhibit 1: IoT Platform Capabilities Extending from Intelligent Cloud to Intelligent Edge

IoT Platform Capabilities

To better understand the evolution, positioning, platform strategy, and competence of the various IoT platforms, Counterpoint has analyzed and evaluated key IoT platforms ranging from cloud-first to edge-first. The research helps industry stakeholders gain insights on the leading IoT platforms and their unique capabilities, limitations, partnerships, successful deployments, reach, and outlook. The chart below highlights the leading IoT platforms scorecard using our proprietary CORE framework.

Exhibit 2: Counterpoint CORE – Leading IoT Platform by Completeness i.e. End-to-End Capabilities

Counterpoint CORE - World's Leading IoT Platforms ScorecardThese leading platform players can be classified based on their core business and how they have evolved into IoT platform providers.

Cloud-first incumbents such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, Baidu, IBM Watson, Alibaba Cloud, and Cloudera have successfully extended their IoT platform capabilities from the cloud to the edge. This end-to-end offering has helped them score well in terms of “completeness” in our evaluation.

Hardware vendors such as Huawei and CISCO that lead in terms of edge IoT endpoints, networking, and computing components, have also been successfully integrating their offerings with edge and cloud IoT capabilities. Thus, these vendors also score well on completeness, expanding their offering.

Software vendors such as SAP, PTC, WebNMS, Nutanix, and Software AG which are successful enterprise software companies, have added robust IoT Application Enablement Platform (AEP) capabilities to nicely complement their existing business. These vendors have been expanding their edge and cloud IoT capabilities through in-house development, partnerships, and acquisitions.

While these incumbents have grown on their IoT capabilities, Research Analyst, Ms. Falguni Shah, highlights emerging trends, “Choosing a more integrated and complete IoT platforms such as Microsoft Azure IoT, Baidu AIoT, or PTC ThingWorx, is attractive for enterprises looking to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. Especially for those enterprises who already have established relationships with these players and have complete control and visibility over their IoT budget and deployment. However, many enterprises have a diverse set of IoT problems that they are trying to solve, and for many, these begin at the edge. As a result, edge IoT deployments are on the rise and estimated to be the bulk of future IoT deployments. Furthermore, greater flexibility, application-led customization, lower costs, no vendor lock-in, and better developer tools are also important criteria for enterprises as they embark on their IoT journey. This is the reason why several platforms are rushing to add edge IoT capabilities. However, we are also seeing the rise of highly capable edge-first IoT platforms, mainly from startups.”

In our evaluation, edge-first IoT platform players such as FogHorn, ClearBlade, Crosser, and Arm are addressing this exact problem in a more focused way. Some of these platforms lead in our evaluation, challenging the incumbents on several edge-focused capabilities. These include data ingestion, data processing, edge orchestration – all powered by a ground-up, purpose-built, easily customizable but scalable, edge IoT software platform. These vendors have gained preference and have driven successful edge IoT deployments across key verticals such as industrial, transportation, and retail, among others. Microsoft Azure is one of the only incumbents that comes somewhat close to building such robust edge IoT capabilities.

Highlighting this trend, VP Research. Neil Shah, notes, “The IoT market is largely still a blue ocean and in the nascent stages, with enough room for every IoT platform to grow and be successful as we see millions of enterprises and governments kickstart their digital transformation initiatives. We will likely see a co-opetition model as many of these highly capable platforms compete as well as complement each other to help build an effective and efficient IoT solution. Moving into the new decade, we also expect healthy M&A activity to address several capability gaps between incumbents and startups identified by our research.”

The following leaderboard highlights leadership in eight sub-criteria, which themselves comprise more than 35 sub-capabilities critical to the platforms’ competitiveness.

Exhibit 3: Counterpoint CORE Leaderboard1 :: Leading IoT Platforms by Capabilities – Edge, Cloud, Business Metrics

Counterpoint CORE Leaderboard - Leading IoT Platforms by Capabilities – Edge, Cloud, Business Metrics
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Leaderboard: Top three platforms based on the addition of 35+ individual capabilities scores which rolls into the above eight sub-categories across three main categories Edge, Cloud, and Performance

Key research findings:

  • Microsoft Azure IoT platform leads the overall evaluation in 26 out of 35 capabilities across Edge IoT, Cloud IoT, and Platform Performance categories. Coming from a strong enterprise cloud business, Microsoft Azure IoT is the only end-to-end platform that has successfully built its Edge IoT capabilities and offers greater interoperability with other value chain players.
  • Amazon AWS IoT has also done well in terms of completeness benefiting from a robust Cloud IoT and Application Enablement capabilities. Further, AWS has been building its edge capabilities via AWS Greengrass. However, AWS Greengrass still lags Microsoft and other edge-first vendors to offer an advanced and scalable edge data analytics engine. Amazon was the leader in 10 out of 35 capabilities in our evaluation.
  • Huawei ranks third in our evaluation offering edge to cloud capabilities. Huawei Ocean Connect offers several edge components offering edge chipsets, to devices, to software, complementing its Cloud IoT capabilities. Huawei has a growing customer base within China and Europe, however, current US sanctions could slow its enterprise IoT business outside China.
  • PTC ThingWorx leads in IoT data ingestion, visualization (dashboard & AR), marketplace, and developer support capabilities. Further, PTC has been able to attract a strong roster of partnerships and customers across the IoT value chain. PTC was a leader in 12 out of 35 capabilities.
  • Nutanix, Losant, and WebNMS have also done well building great developer tools, open API integration, and application modules for IoT developers to accelerate application development and commercialization. They are fast emerging as highly capable Application Enablement Platforms (AEP).
  • IBM leads in Cloud IoT components in our evaluation benefitting from its industry leading position in Cloud and ML/AI space. RedHat acquisition also strengthens the edge software, security and virtualization offering. However, IBM needs to advance its edge analytics capabilities and expand its partnership roster to capitalize on the Edge IoT opportunity.
  • SAP’s strong foothold in enterprises with its current ERP customers puts its Leonardo IoT platform in a uniquely advantageous position. These customers can use the huge volume of business data coming from SAP ERP systems to build the business logic and extend it to the edge. SAP has been offering flexibility to its customers to either integrate their businesses with Leonardo IoT and SAP Cloud platform or AWS IoT Core or Azure IoT Hub via its partnership with Amazon and Microsoft, respectively. SAP Leonardo IoT platform leads in Business Apps integration, ecosystem geographic reach, and edge connectivity services capabilities.
  • Looking at the important Edge IoT landscape, ClearBlade and FogHorn are leaders offering advanced edge capabilities that span data ingestion, analytics engine, third-party integration, and scalability.
  • ClearBlade has the best edge software which is highly scalable across different edge hardware due to its lowest software footprint but still packing most of the advanced edge data processing features. ClearBlade has carved its niche in key verticals such as transportation, retail, and consumer edge devices. However, ClearBlade needs to scale across other verticals building key ecosystem partnerships and advanced developer tools.
  • FogHorn is also one of the hottest edge platforms, which is being heavily adopted in industrial IoT applications due to its proprietary but highly capable real-time edge analytics engine.
  • FogHorn’s edge-first platform is also integrated with easy-to-use and highly efficient expression language. This is helping industrial OT personnel leverage their domain knowledge and seamlessly design and deploy ML models at the edge.
  • Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT is one of the more mature IoT platforms with healthy adoption across Europe. Cumulocity IoT excels at real-time streaming analytics via its powerful Apama Event Processing engine at the edge and in the cloud. Cumulocity is one of the leaders for the edge and cloud analytics capability in our evaluation.
  • Crosser is another emerging edge-focused player, growing fast with an absolute focus on real-time streaming analytics at the edge via its advanced edge analytics engine. Crosser is partnering with several cloud vendors to complement its Cloud IoT prowess with its offering.
  • Players such as CISCO, Arm, and Losant are leaders in Edge Orchestration helping customers efficiently manage edge devices, connectivity services, and formulate business logic workflows via easy-to-use tools.
  • Google, CISCO, and Arm are setting the standard for chip-to-cloud security. For example, Google’s security approach begins with hardware root-of-trust and spans software, network, and cloud. Microsoft is also partnering with multiple chipset vendors to integrate Azure Sphere for a direct secure out-of-the-box connectivity to Azure IoT Cloud.

The complete CORE evaluation and analysis research on the world’s leading IoT Platforms is available for purchase or licensing, please contact [email protected]

Analyst Contacts:

Falguni Shah  

Peter Richardson 

Neil Shah