LogMeIn’s Xively: An Amazon Web Services for the Internet of Things?
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That’s where Xively is aiming.
“Innovators will take an object, they’ll write an application, and they need infrastructure in between to really make those things communicate and record what they do, Jones says. “A lot of those innovators will kind of hand-wave and say, ‘Ah, I’ll just use the cloud.’”
But that can also mean a lot more custom work, programming software to make all of those connections and ensure that the work is spread out among servers that handle all of the Internet traffic, he says. Simply put, there’s not a clear market leader yet that works as a plug-and-play fix for connected-device creators.
Xively thinks its service has an advantage because of its combination of startup roots and established company guts.
The Pachube system gained a lot of attention when it cropped up, including serving as a connection for people who hacked together a system of real-time Geiger counter information feeds in Japan following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.
Meanwhile, back in Boston, LogMeIn had built its business on top of a proprietary online networking system called Gravity Cloud, which already “connects hundreds of millions of devices and supports tens of millions of users in 240 countries,” the company says.
Gravity Cloud has always been used to provide the connections for LogMeIn’s cloud-based office software—its flagship remote computer-access software, along with products like the document-sharing service Cubby and the business communication service Join.me.
“The products all run on this worldwide cloud, run on about a dozen data centers. It’s not on Amazon. It’s ours,” Jones says. ““We’re in direct control of the infrastructure and have been for 10 years. Our downtime is incredibly small. We know how to do this at scale.”
Since it has always specialized in connecting users to remote computers, Jones says, the Gravity Cloud system is well-suited to an Internet of things scenario that links a potentially huge number of miniature computers to the Internet or each other.
On top of rolling out Xively for developers today, LogMeIn also is forming a partnership with ARM, a major manufacturer of processors for mobile devices, to offer a prototyping kit that includes ARM hardware and access to Xively’s service for $130. Xively itself will be based on a “freemium” model for personal use, and will start at $999 for professional accounts aimed toward developers making commercial products.
It’s a very interesting turn for LogMeIn, which has traditionally served a mostly small and medium-sized business customer base with its online software services. As that industry gets more crowded, it’s a bold move for the company to build an entirely new lane for itself.
Xively’s Jones says the most exciting stuff is still to come for connected devices—particularly since nobody quite knows what the next wave of hackers and creators are going to come up with once the hardware, software, and infrastructure are cheap and reliable enough to let new inventions flow.