How to set up and register a thing to use in AWS IoT


IoT greatly complicates data management for almost all business enterprises—for many, the job is just too large and moving too quickly to handle alone. The cloud can help.

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Image: metamorworks, Getty Images/iStockphoto

For many businesses, data management now includes the collection, processing, storing, and analyzing of massive streams of data from a multitude of sources located in an interconnected network known as the Internet of Things (IoT). For all but a few large enterprises, managing data under those conditions requires specialized third-party provided cloud services—the job is just too large and moving too quickly to handle alone.

All of the major cloud service providers (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud) seem to offer an effective set of IoT bi-directional collection and control protocols for their respective cloud ecosystems. Therefore, choosing which service to deploy in your business enterprise may come down to a variety of factors, including familiarity, ease of use, and continuing costs. For this article, I will focus on AWS IoT services.

According to Amazon, “The AWS IoT service provides secure, bi-directional communication between Internet-connected devices such as sensors, actuators, embedded micro-controllers, or smart appliances and the AWS Cloud.” Using the AWS Control Panel, this tutorial shows you how to set up and register a “thing” for AWS IoT services.

SEE: Managing the multicloud: Companies capitalize on using multiple cloud providers (TechRepublic Premium)

How to configure an AWS IoT server

For the purposes of this exercise, the term “thing” refers to any internet-connected device, including sensors, actuators, embedded micro-controllers, smart appliances, robots, computers, autonomous vehicles, and so on. If it is connected to the network, and it generates data that must be processed, stored, and/or analyzed, it is a thing in the IoT sense of the word.

The Amazon AWS IoT set of services includes numerous components, which include:

  • Device gateway
  • Message broker
  • Rules engine
  • Security and Identity service
  • Registry
  • Group registry
  • Device shadow
  • Device Shadow service
  • Device Provisioning service
  • Custom Authentication service
  • Jobs service

But before any of those components can be brought into play, a thing must first be registered.

Start by logging into the AWS Control Console using an account with administrative credentials. Using the Services tab, navigate to the Internet Of Things subsection to reach the IoT Manage console (Figure A).

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Figure A

As you can see, there are no things registered yet, so click the Register A Thing button to start the process. Figure B reveals that you can bulk register similar devices at the same time, but for this example, we will register a single thing by clicking the appropriate button.

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Figure B

The first question on the next page asks you to give your new thing a name and to classify it as a specific type of thing (Figure C).

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Figure C

Odds are you will have to create a type for your new thing. Click the Create A Type button and provide a name and description of this new type of thing (Figure D). You may establish several attributes of the device type to help you find and track your things in the future. Click Create This Type when you are finished.

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Figure D

Back on the thing registration page (Figure C), you may also add your thing to a group or add additional attributes for tracking purposes. When you are finished, click the Next button at the bottom of the page.

The next screen asks you to provide an authentication certificate for your newly registered thing (Figure E). This is an important step for security purposes because no matter how many things reside on your IoT system, each and every one must have a certificate that identifies and authorizes its data.

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Figure E

AWS recommends you use the one-click method, but if you have a certification system established, you could use that as well. For this example, I will keep it simple and use the one-click method (Figure F).

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Figure F

As you can see in Figure G, we now have our first AWS IoT “thing.”

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Figure G

From the AWS IoT console, I can now connect this and all of my other things to more AWS cloud functions. I can also edit attributes, establish policies, audit results, and monitor its activity. With potentially thousands of IoT devices per enterprise to manage, the ability to apply commands across devices of a specific type, collectively, could prove to be invaluable.

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