MQTT – Valuable Then and Now

In 1999, Dr. Andy Stanford-Clark of IBM and Arlen Nipper invented a simple messaging protocol designed for low bandwidth, high-latency networks. They named it MQ Telemetry Transport, better known as MQTT. This pub/sub, lightweight protocol adds a heightened security element to messaging via highly unreliable networks. It requires minimal network bandwidth and device resources, while ensuring MQ’s noted reliability and assured delivery standards.
What makes MQTT still valuable today? This protocol has dramatic implications and growing use cases for the Internet of Things (IOT), where the world of connected ‘things’ connects an endless variety of devices, sometimes with minimal power availability. In other words, as all these devices “talk” via the Internet, the MQTT  transport protocol ensures that these conversations stay secure and private. In order to understand how MQTT can improve your company’s ability to navigate the digital economy, you’ll need to get more acquainted with the nuts and bolts of the protocol.
Standards: While in the process of undergoing standardization at OASIS, the protocol specification is openly published and is royalty free.
SCADA and MQIsdp: SCADA Protocol and MQ Integrator SCADA Device Protocol are both old names for what is now known as MQTT.
Security: You can pass a user name and password with a MQTT packet in V3.1 of the protocol. Encryption is independent of MQTT and typically handled with SSL, though this does add network overhead. Keep in mind there are other options outside of the base protocol.
Implications and use cases: One of the oft-cited use cases, likely due to the underlying popularity of the application, is the Facebook messaging application.
When Facebook engineer Lucy Zhang was looking for a new messaging mechanism for their app, she knew she had to address bandwidth constraints, power consumption and platform variety (iOS, Android, Windows, etc). She turned to MQTT. While a truly innovative use for the protocol, this type of messaging isn’t the most typical use case.
M2M: MQTT’s true power lies in machine-to-machine communication. It’s specification to cover device communications enables any device to communicate information to any other system or device. Smart meters are an excellent example of an MQTT use case. This lightweight messaging protocol excels in communication among multiple sensors, often in remote locations, with limited power and inconsistent network connectivity.
In the case of smart grids, utilities companies can use MQTT to better predict where crews need to be in advance of weather events. In addition, transportation authorities can monitor road conditions to modify routes in advance of storms or accidents and detour commuters around construction sites.
Conclusions: MQTT has only recently come into its own as a mature, supported, reliable transport protocol to enable communication in a truly connected world – a world where meters can feed their data into analytics systems, combining with other data like weather information or social media trends, to perform predictive analytics.
TxMQ is working with a number of companies on next generation use cases for MQTT that better drives the digital economy, improves outcomes in healthcare, enhances lives and improves our planet for all of us.
Get in touch today for information on how we can partner with you on your digital evolution.
Chuck Fried is the President and CEO of TxMQ, a Premier IBM Business Partner supporting customers in the US and Canada since 1979.   [email protected]