Topic: The IoT World Forum (IoTWF) Standardized Architecture
In 2014 the IoTWF architectural committee (led by Cisco, IBM, Rockwell Automation, and
others)published a seven-layer IoT architectural reference model. While various IoT
reference models exist, the one put forth by the IoT World Forum offers a clean, simplified
perspective on IoT and includes edge computing, data storage, and access.
It provides a succinct way of visualizing IoT from a technical perspective. Each of the seven layers is broken down into specific functions, and security encompasses the entire model. The figure below details the IoT Reference Model published by the IoTWF.
Layer 1: Physical Devices and Controllers Layer
The first layer of the IoT Reference Model is the physical devices and controllers layer. This
layer is home to the “things” in the Internet of Things, including the various endpoint devices
and sensors that send and receive information. The size of these “things” can range from
almost microscopic sensors to giant machines in a factory. Their primary function is
generating data and being capable of being queried and/or controlled over a network.
Layer 2: Connectivity Layer
In the second layer of the IoT Reference Model, the focus is on connectivity. The most
an important function of this IoT layer is the reliable and timely transmission of data. More
specifically, this includes transmissions between Layer 1 devices and the network and
between the network and information processing that occurs at Layer 3 (the edge computing
As you may notice, the connectivity layer encompasses all networking elements of IoT
and doesn’t really distinguish between the last-mile network (the network between the
sensor/endpoint and the IoT gateway, discussed later in this chapter), gateway, and
Layer 3: Edge Computing Layer
Edge computing is the role of Layer 3. Edge computing is often referred to as the “fog” layer
and is discussed in the section “Fog Computing,” later in this chapter. At this layer, the
emphasis is on data reduction and converting network data flows into information that is
ready for storage and processing by higher layers. One of the basic principles of this
reference model is that information processing is initiated
as early and as close to the edge of the network as possible.
Upper Layers: Layers 4–7
The upper layers deal with handling and processing the IoT data generated by the bottom
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