What is an IoT platforn
To understand what an IoT platform is, you first need to understand what goes into a complete IoT system.
A complete IoT system needs hardware, such as sensors or devices. These sensors and devices collect data from the environment (e.g. a moisture sensor) or perform actions in the environment (e.g. watering crops). A complete IoT system needs connectivity. The hardware needs a way to transmit all that data to the cloud (e.g. sending moisture data) or needs a way to receive commands from the cloud (e.g. water the crops now). For some IoT systems, there can be an intermediate step between hardware and connecting to the cloud, such as a gateway or router. A complete IoT system needs software. This software is hosted in the cloud (what is the cloud?) and is responsible for analyzing the data it is collecting from the sensors and making decisions (e.g knowing from moisture data that it just rained and then telling the irrigation system not to turn on today). A complete IoT system needs a user interface. To make all of this useful, there needs to be a way for users to interact with the IoT system (e.g a web-based app with a dashboard that shows moisture trends and allows users to manually turn irrigation systems on or off).
IoT platforms are the support software that connects everything in an IoT system. An IoT platform facilitates communication, data flow, device management, and the functionality of applications. IoT platforms exist in part 3 and, often, part 4 of what is described above.
IoT platforms help:
Connect hardware, such as sensors and devices. Handle different hardware and software communication protocols. Provide security and authentication for devices and users. Collect, visualize, and analyze data the sensors and devices gather. Integrate all of the above with other web services.