LogMeIn’s Xively: An Amazon Web Services for the Internet of Things?

5/14/13Follow @curtwoodward

A couple of years back, business software company LogMeIn bought a little startup called Pachube. This happens all the time, of course—a public company snapping up a small fry, hoping to bring some scrappier DNA or a promising product into the fold.

But this acquisition, more than many others, seemed to hint at an intriguing future.

Pachube, an early leader in the burgeoning “Internet of things” field, had developed online software that let tinkerers and hackers connect their electronic creations to the Internet.

LogMeIn, best known for its cloud-based remote access software, re-branded the service as Cosm last year, but it was still a “beta” test version. The future remained a little unclear.

Now, we can finally answer the nagging question of just what LogMeIn (NASDAQ: LOGM) wanted with that connected-devices startup. Today, the Boston-based company is unveiling Xively (rhymes with “lively”), another new name for the software service formerly known as Pachube.

And with it, LogMeIn hopes to build out its software business far beyond its current competition with companies like Box, Citrix, and Google for the inboxes and desktops of office workers around the world.

As a subsidiary of LogMeIn, Xively is using its parent company’s underlying cloud infrastructure to offer a connectivity hub for developers who want to build that “Internet of things” by connecting physical objects—temperature sensors, light switches, and much more—to the Internet.

If that sounds like a page out of the much-admired (and constantly cited) playbook for Amazon Web Services, then LogMeIn is starting to get its message across. “We’re going to do the same thing for the Internet of things,” says Chad Jones, a Xively vice president of strategy.

Time will tell if the new effort has the juice to make that lofty vision come into focus. But LogMeIn thinks it has some natural advantages.

It’s all part of a major trend that seems like it’s been on the cusp of happening for many years now. As Clive Thompson wrote in Wired, “Back in the ’90s, big companies built systems to do tricks like this, but they were expensive, hard to use, and vendor-specific. The hype eventually boiled away. The Internet of things turned out to be vaporware.”

That has changed, quite noticeably with some high-profile products aimed at the everyday home. A major one is the Nest thermostat, a slick-looking digital heating and cooling controller produced by some of the folks who cranked out the first iPods. It’s connected to the Web and spits out reports of how much energy is being used in a home, while using machine-learning software to adjust to the patterns of its owners.

Another example is the WeMo system, made by connectivity company Belkin, which allows consumers to link relatively cheap power outlets and motion sensors to Web applications, allowing users to turn on their appliances or lights from a smartphone, for instance.

Both of these items are widely available—Nest thermostats are sold at Lowe’s hardware stores, and WeMo setups are prominently displayed at Best Buy locations. So it’s pretty clear this stuff is moving out of the realm of nerdy hobbyists.

“The possibilities are endless for how the community can design new sensors and the meta apps that connect them in innovative and useful ways,” says Scott Miller, CEO of hardware manufacturing consultancy Dragon Innovation, which counts the the Pebble connected smartwatch among its clients.

That means there’s going to be some intense competition, especially on the typically lucrative software side of the equation. There are bigger players trying to get some communication standards in place, Cisco and IBM among them.

Meanwhile, a group of smaller companies jockeys for position as an online “platform” that handles the Internet-connection layer of programming, making it easier for product developers to bring their creations to life. … Next Page »

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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  • Mike B.

    As a developer, I think the new service from Xively sucks. I’ve been with the service for a long time; first with Pachube, then COSM, and now Xively. The Xively site is terrible.

    First, they made the changeover with ZERO heads up to the developers. They took away our Summary page (which had graphs of all of our data summarized on a single page). And now you have to click to see each graph of your data points. Used to be, you could see multiple graphs and multiple data points all on the same screen (say 30 or so). Now, I went from 1 click to over 10 clicks to see the same data. Shame on whoever came up with the new website design. They obviously NEVER talked to a developer about their new design…

    In the late 80s, whatever Computer Associates bought turned to crap in about 2 years. Seems as if LogMeIn is trying the same trick. Urg!

    • http://www.facebook.com/Etheredge Andrew Etheredge

      So if you had to pick some things that you would like to see in a service such as Xively what would you like? I would love to hear your input on the subject. Shoot me a message on FB thanks!

  • AW

    Just to second Mike B’s comments. I was affected by the COSM / Xively sudden change. Having to open each plot separately each time the page is opened is a real pain. Half the page is taken up with display of Request Log, API Keys, triggers, and other Help information which I don’t often need to have displayed. The data only plots for 6 hours without an adjustable time scale so I can’t easily look at 1day, 1 week, 1 month. Also it is now broken for IE8. Nobody cares, I’m sure, but there are several locations where I still have that as a constraint. I’m looking for an alternative now unless xively happens to fix it before I find one. ThingSpeak.com looks similar but have not figured it out yet.

    • AW

      Just an update on this, the plots have now been improved so that different time durations can be plotted (6 hours, 1day, 1week, etc). Also if you display the feed page rather than the toolbox, you can get the full width of the plots.

  • Aliasgar Babat

    I liked what LogMeIn was doing for a while, but over time, I guess I “outgrew” it and became a little disenchanted with it. Now I’m using RHUB’s appliance, which gives me Web conferencing and remote access / support, all in one appliance. Plus, it’s only a one-time purchase, instead of never-ending monthly fees.

  • Steve

    Have you checked this one – http://www.ammyy.com/en/index.html