Building a Specification on top of MQTT to Meet Your Industry Requirements

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Building a Specification on top of MQTT to Meet Your Industry Requirements

MQTT is the de-facto standard for IoT data movement due to its ability to connect millions of devices securely and reliably. However, during the implementation phase, companies may struggle to define the MQTT specification without a roadmap. Some specifications for MQTT-based communication already exist, such as MQTT Sparkplug, which is now successfully speeding adoption in the Industrial IoT space. However, other industries and use cases could use a similar boost that Sparkplug gave. We’re here to help.

This guide aims to help IT Architects, IoT developers, solutions architects, and engineers take the right steps to deploy MQTT for IoT data movement and create the standard, or specification, for their unique implementation. Once you put the right foundation in place and define a uniform approach to communication via MQTT, all data publishers and subscribers can easily communicate with each other regarding their common use case.

The following steps will help you define the MQTT specification for your needs to build value upon a robust and flexible foundation for IoT messaging.

Key Steps to Building an MQTT Specification

An MQTT specification should map all facets of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication as completely as possible, only leaving out those areas for which no uniform approach can be defined. One should also consider future growth or potential implementation or use case changes.

Root the initial definition of an MQTT specification on the primary use case. For example, suppose the primary application is a smart building or a communication to a fleet of ships. In that case the specification will develop differently than if it was a connected car use case. Each industry vertical has unique requirements.

To build an MQTT specification, start by defining the following requirements for your IoT project.

  • Interoperability requirements
  • Evolution requirements
  • Infrastructure and deployment requirements
  • Communications requirements
  • Data integrity requirements
  • Functional data requirements
  • Maintainability requirements

Next, take the following key steps:

Step 1 – Define a Topic Namespace

The free and dynamic use of topic names is a major benefit of MQTT, but the protocol doesn’t dictate the message topic namespace or data representation. In production environments, it is necessary to define a topic namespace, so all devices and applications involved know, understand, and use the same terms and relationships in that space.

Step 2 – Specify the Payload Data Structure

Similar to the definition of the topic namespace, a schema for the contents of the messages, or the payload, must be defined to use MQTT in production environments. This can be implemented elegantly with the native concepts of MQTT 5, described in detail in the next section.

Step 3 – Define the State and Data Flow Management

Knowing the state of any device is relevant for most use cases. MQTT has useful features for this purpose, which will be discussed in detail later in this paper. Since MQTT was originally developed to monitor real-time systems, it inherently handles network failures, low bandwidth, and high latency well for data flow management.

Step 4 – Define the Security Requirements

IoT messaging communication must guarantee that each device is trusted and authorized to exchange information. A secure access validation process should be part of the specification.

Step 5 – Set Boundaries

Finally, the specification should also state the scope of its validity. These provisions may specify the audience, define the industry or use case, and outline the limitations of its use.

Download this guide by HiveMQ to find out more.