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What is the difference between IoT and M2M?

Devices, computers, and machines were already connected by the time Kevin Ashton coined the term Internet of Things. The concept gained popularity for its ability to connect the unconnected – physical-first objects. The meaning and application of the term IoT will continue to evolve as new connected technologies emerge, replacing physical-first objects with smart connected devices. Examples of IoT include connected cars, smart meters, and smart cities, wearables etc.

M2M means machine to machine communication, is basically communication between a machine or a device with a remote computer. It is a data communication standard. M2M is also named as Machine Type Communication (MTC) in 3GPP.
There are three processes involved in an M2M communication:
  •     It connects the device to the cloud.
  •     Manage the device.
  •     Collects the machine and/or sensor data.
M2M the subset of IoT, initially represented closed, point-to-point communication between physical-first objects. Some experts define M2M as a subset of IoT, while others like to call IoT as an evolved version of machine to machine. Either way, M2M is more recently referred to technologies that enable communication between machines without human intervention. Examples include telemetry, traffic control, robotics, and other applications involving device-to-device communications.

The concepts of IoT and M2M are inherently subjected to the confusion associated with meaning, use cases, and adoption. Traditional M2M solutions typically rely on point-to-point communications using embedded hardware modules and either cellular or wired networks. In contrast, IoT solutions rely on IP-based networks to interface device data to a cloud or middleware platform. Though M2M solutions offer remote access to machine data, these data are traditionally targeted at point solutions in service management applications. Rarely, if ever, are the data integrated with enterprise applications to help improve overall business performance.

There is also a clear difference in the applications of these technologies. M2M solutions, because of their limited scope, are confined to creating a network of machines that work in synchronization. On the other hand, IoT creates 360° solutions that allow for flexible responses and multi-level communication.

Integration of device and sensor data with big data, analytics and other enterprise applications is a core concept behind the emerging IoT. The cloud-based architecture also makes IoT inherently more scalable thereby eliminating the need for incremental hard-wired connections and SIM card installations. This is one reason why M2M is often referred to as “plumbing,” while IoT is a universal enabler.


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