12 most powerful Internet of Things companies

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Big money for big data

This alphabetized list is an unscientific preview of some of the biggest companies attempting to turn the IoT market into a reality. The Internet of Things (IoT) market is expected to balloon in the coming years. Research firm Gartner predicts IoT will generate $300 billion in revenue by 2020, with estimates of how many connected devices ranging from 25 billion to more than 200 billion. Those devices need sensors, networks, back-end infrastructure and analytics software to make them useful though. This list is an unscientific preview of some of the biggest companies attempting to turn the IoT market into a reality.

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Amazon Web Services

The cloud will play a big part of the Internet of Things, and the biggest infrastructure cloud player out there is Amazon Web Services. AWS is ready to take all this data and allow customers to do analysis on top of it. AWS has a variety of data platforms, including its RDS relational database, its DynamoDB NoSQL database, as well as its Red Shift data warehouse tool, and new analysis tools like Kinesis, a real-time processing service for streaming data. If IoT data lives in the cloud, AWS could play a big role in this market.

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AT&T

AT&T is making big strides to position itself as the network for the IoT. AT&T has many partnerships with other companies on this list, including Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel, and is attempting to be the de facto network provider to connect all of these devices. Other telcos like Vodafone, Telefonica and Verizon are looking to tap into this market as well.

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Axeda

Axeda, a pure-play Internet of Things and Machine to Machine (M2M) technology company, might be the least recognizable business on this list to network professionals. But this privately-held vendor has actually been around since 2000. Its cloud-based software collects and analyzes data generated by sensors and devices. Companies use this information to identify usage patterns, provide remote services and more.

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Cisco

Fundamentally, IoT is about having more devices connected to networks and routing that information so it can be analyzed. Cisco hopes to play a big role in facilitating all that through its line of connected grid routers, embedded switches (pictured) and application-centric networking software. Cisco did have somewhat of a hiccup recently with its IoT initiative when its executive heading up those efforts resigned.

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GE

Last year research firm IDC stated that GE is a “pioneer” in the Internet of Things movement. The conglomerate is credited with coining the term the “Industrial Internet,” bringing the idea of connected devices into the commercial and manufacturing sectors. The underpinning of the company’s efforts is Predix, a software platform that integrates machine-generated data with traditional and cloud databases. GE already has products for hospital operations management, airline fuel optimization and Grid IQ solutions for utility companies. Other industrial suppliers like Schneider Electric are making a big IoT push, too.

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Google

Google made waves in the IoT market when it bought Nest, which sells thermostats and fire detectors that are “smart,” meaning they learn patterns and interact with their owners. At $3.2 billion, the acquisition was a clear indication that Google hopes to play a big role in the Internet of Things world. Google is looking beyond just Nest’s current line, as it envisions a world of heating, lighting and appliances all connected and auto-responsive to users.

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IBM

IBM hopes to make the world a “smarter” place and it sees the IoT as playing a major role in that. When objects are connected to one another, more insight can be gleaned from them. IBM has a variety of products in this area including a messaging platform for machine to machine (M2M) data named MessageSight, along with MobileFirst, which gives objects mobile capabilities, and BlueMix, a development platform for apps that can manage IoT data collection and analysis. IBM isn’t alone in providing IT-centric IoT offerings though -- service companies like Wipro and CGI are making a big push, too.

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Intel

In this world of connected devices, that hardware will need processors, and Intel is rolling out a variety of chips to serve this market. It has a range of options, from the highly energy efficient QuarkSoC X1000 for low capacity workloads to Xeons for heavy-duty processing. Intel isn’t the only processor company talking up the IoT market either. Competitor ARM is readying its chips for a world of sensors, too.

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Microsoft

Microsoft says it wants to make the Internet of Things applicable to everyday business activities. It’s doing this through a variety of products, including customized Windows Embedded operating systems meant to collect and analyze data, as well as via products in its Azure cloud such as Intelligent Systems, a currently preview-mode offering that offloads heavy data analysis to the cloud.

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Oracle

The IoT movement is fundamentally about creating more data, and Oracle says all that data will need a place to be stored. The company has a suite of services, including a platform for enabling Java in embedded sensor devices, a middleware platform for creating applications to capture the data, and databases to store it all.

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Salesforce.com

While many other companies on this list are building ways for connected devices to impact industrial and commercial operations, Salesforce.com says that the IoT presents a new opportunity for marketers to glean deeper insights into their prospects and customers. Connected devices allow chief marketing officers (CMOs) to learn how their products are being evaluated and used, what stage of the process the prospects are in and potentially what factors influence buying behavior. Salesforce.com says IoT is not just about connected machines; it’s about connected products and marketing, too.

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Qualcomm

Qualcomm helped create AllJoyn, an open source IoT framework for connecting devices that is now managed by the Linux Foundation. While there are many efforts to enable devices to connect to the Internet, Qualcomm says that having a common open source standard protocol, such as AllJoyn, for uniting those devices is important.

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