Product Review: C3 IoT Platform
The C3 IoT Platform is a “complete platform-as-a-service solution that enables the rapid design, development, deployment, and operation of enterprise IoT applications.” In other words, the C3 IoT PaaS provides a suite of software application development tools and capabilities for enterprises seeking a complete IoT solution. Tools include the C3 Integration Designer, Application Logic, Data Explorer, and UI Designer, among others. The combination of these tools allows for enterprises to develop applications quickly. C3 IoT notes nine major platform capabilities including data integration, APIs, machine learning, analytics, and workflow. Additionally, the company provides a suite of pre-built IoT applications, including predictive maintenance, sensor and network health, energy management, fraud detection, customer engagement, and more. Enterprise customers can license these applications, easily adapt them using the platform’s comprehensive toolset, or build custom applications using the platform as a service.
Note that this review is not quite the norm since we’ll be covering an entire IoT platform. This review will take a look at several components of the IoT platform in more detail, but also keep in mind the purpose of each piece in the overall system.
“C3 IoT has demonstrated a unique ability to rapidly design, provision, and deploy scalable, elastic cloud enterprise big data analytics and machine learning capability into highly functional and beneficial enterprise applications.” Fabio Veronese, Head, Infrastructure and Technological Service at the Enel Group
Key Application Development Tools
At the heart of the C3 IoT Platform are eight different software tools that together provide much of the functionality in the IoT platform. Of these eight tools, four have “Designer” in their name, though only the UI Designer would be used in a particularly artistic way. The other three of these are the Type Designer and Integration Designer – useful primarily for creating canonical objects and object definitions – and the Analytics Designer, which has a self-explanatory name. Besides these four pieces of software, C3 IoT includes a few more tools in their IoT software suite. Three of these are on the data and analytics side of things – Application Logic, Data Explorer and C3 Ex Machina. The Application Logic is used to implement custom business logic as well as custom analytics, while the Data Explorer provides a data visualization framework for uncovering new business insights. C3 Ex Machina, which is also sold separately from the rest of the IoT platform, allows for the importing of many data sources and integration in any of several visualization types. The last of the eight software tools is the Provisioner, which allows application configuration to be safely changed relative to the runtime environment.
One of the biggest selling points for C3 IoT with their IoT platform is the time-to-market advantage afforded to their business clients. In fact, C3 advertises that their clients should be able to develop in-production applications in a range of 4-16 weeks. How do they expect customers to be ready for deploying new applications in that short of a time frame? The IoT platform has a number of features that will help speed up application development. One is the comprehensive set of software pieces that are integrated in the IoT platform. These pieces share a consistent programming language, set of data processing services and standard development model. The IoT platform also features a scalable architecture that is used by business clients both large and small.
C3 IoT also emphasizes the effort that has been put into the data side of their IoT platform. The distributed cloud computing architecture of the C3 IoT Platform is able to handle petabyte-sized data sets. In addition to the software tools mentioned previously in this article, C3 has also developed the C3 Enterprise Data Lake, a data repository intended for integration of data sets across an enterprise for querying and analysis. The data can then be accessed by third-party visualization software to foster additional business insights. The C3 Enterprise Data Lake can be purchased separately.
C3 IoT is a full-scale production IoT platform designed to be fast, scalable and feature-rich. It can be seen that C3 has created a number of useful tools intended to aid companies in rapidly developing IoT applications.
C3 IoT is competing against a number of bigger companies in the industrial IoT market, such as Siemens, IBM and GE’s Predix software, according to a recent Harbor Research report. The multiple-page independent report, which was summarized by MarketWatch, considers C3 to be a market leader, in part because of its “robust data aggregation and integration capabilities.” The report does note that C3 will have challenges as it expands to a broader market, though this of course represents an exciting opportunity for the company as well. The report notes that larger companies, such as GE and Siemens, lag behind C3 in product development; it posits that some smaller competitors, specifically Uptake.io, have products more in line with the C3 IoT Platform, but these companies may not be able to match C3’s customer base or deployment scale.
A list of upcoming C3 events could not be found in the company’s newsroom, though it appears evident that the company has been represented at a number of conferences in the past several months. These include the IoT Global Innovation Forum in Barcelona, in June, and the China International Internet of Energy Summit 2016, where C3 IoT President and CTO Ed Abbo gave the opening keynote address.