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What Are the Components of IoT?
MAR 31, 2015 07:15 AM
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What Makes Up the Internet of Things? 
By Irena Bojanova
Most definitions of the Internet of Things include physical objects or devices (also called “things”) that can sense and/or affect the physical environment, as shown in Figure 1. The IoT also includes virtual objects, such as electronic tickets, agendas, books, and wallets. 
The Internet of Things also includes people – this is particularly important in areas such as home automation, where humans can control the environment via mobile applications. Through services, such as cloud services, massive volumes of data (“big data”) are being processed and turned into valuable information, innovative applications are built and run, and business processes are being optimized by integrating device data, as shown below.
IoT also needs IoT Platforms – the type of middleware that is used to connect the IoT components (objects, people, services, etc.) to the IoT. The IoT platforms provide numerous functions, such as access to devices, ensuring the proper installation and behavior of the device, data analytics, and interoperable connection to the local network, cloud, or other devices. Finally, all of the components in an IoT environment should be tied together by networks through various wireless and wireline technologies, standards, and protocols to provide pervasive connectivity.  

IoT  Components


Physical Objects:



Sense the physical environment


Affect the physical environment

Virtual Objects

Electronic tickets, Agendas, Books, Wallets


Ex.: Humans can control the environment via mobile apps


Ex.: Cloud services – can be used to:

•   Process big data and turn it into valuable information

•   Build and run innovative applications

•   Optimize business processes by integrating device data.


Type of middleware used to connect IoT components (objects, people, services, etc.) to IoT. Provide numerous functions:

•   Access to devices

•   Ensuring proper installation/behavior of device

•   Data analytics

•   Interoperable connection to local network, cloud or other devices.


IoT components are tied together by networks, using various wireless and wireline technologies, standards, and protocols to provide pervasive connectivity.


Looking at the current IoT landscape, among “the good” are the standards efforts (including architectural and platform reference implementations), the growing number of available products, and the numerous potential benefits. Among “the bad” are the overlapping IoT standards efforts, apparent incompatibility of devices with proprietary technologies, and multiple complex security challenges.
Have ideas on  IoT components? Please share them in the comments section.
In future posts, I will discuss IoT components, available and emerging IoT frameworks, products, and solutions; IoT government efforts; IoT standardization issues; and of course what is the big deal about IoT security.
Irena Bojanova, Ph.D., is a program chair, a professor at UMUC and a computer scientist at NIST. She is the founding chair of IEEE CS Cloud Computing Special Technical Community,  a  Co‐Chair  of the IEEE Reliability Society IoT Technical Committee, and a founding member of the IEEE Technical Sub‐Committee on Big Data. She is Acting EIC of the IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing, AEIC of the IEEE IT Professional, and AE of the International Journal of Big Data Intelligence (IJBDI). Dr. Bojanova is a General Co‐Chair of ISSRE 2015 and OC member of STC 2015 Conference. You can read her Cloud and IoT blogs on Dr. Bojanova is a senior member of IEEE and can be reached at
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