Internet of Things! What Can Drupal Bring to The Table?

Stating that we're living in a " connected world" is almost like saying that "the sky is blue". We're just stating the obvious. And so is "predicting" that ioT, the internet of things, will dramatically impact the way we live, as digital experiences consumers, and the way we do business, as enterprise or small-business owners striving to speed up our digital transformation. So, we're back, again, to the question in this post's heading: "What Can Drupal Bring to the Table?". Well, let me show you how you can use Drupal for exploiting the power of ioT:

But First: How Exactly Does ioT Change The Way We Do Business?

Since, as Drupal developers, we're witnessing in-depth changes in the way organizations run their businesses, we need to proactively adapt to these new emerging business models.

Now to list some of the key “issues” that your future ioT solutions will need to address:

  • they'll need to be security threat-centered: needless to stress the significant security risks that any ioT implementation involves. How do companies respond to these new security threats? By implementing cloud-based solutions, the only ones able to deal with real-time security issues.
  • they'll need to be brand visibility-enhancing: exploiting the power of ioT means handling massive amounts of data from multiple sources. Data which can be turned into the right “fuel” for crucial decision making and business strategies setting up, but which can also lead to all types of data security concerns. Ponder on this when you're “engineering” your ioT solutions and implement them with Drupal!
  • they'll need to be agile platform-based: since the data security challenge doesn't cover just the enterprises, themselves, they need to (and implicitly the Drupal developer that they're contracting) craft integrated agile platform-based solutions aimed at protecting both the data on these companies' devices, as well as the one stored in the cloud. 

“Security threats” will always be just “another word” for ioT. So, we're all (both business owners and developers) looking forward to 2017's own contribution to the never-ending development of increasingly sophisticated cyber security measures.

What Can Drupal Bring to the Table?

And we're back to my initial question: how could Drupal play a key role in the Internet of Things' arena?

Here is how precisely Drupal can power your ioT-based projects/business apps:

  • Drupal comes with a platform for the genetic content
  • Drupal offers user access control
  • Drupal delivers and stores user-generated content
  • Drupal offers control over the data and the data structures on its platform
  • Drupal serves as an online data storage service
  • Drupal's serves particular data integration purposes, too

In a nutshell: Drupal's easy-to-handle platform helps you store valuable data sent out by particular ioT devices. Moreover, it “interprets” it for you and delivers it to you as a single piece of meaningful content.

Drupal Interacting With ioT Devices: A Few Practical Examples

Why should we continue talking about how Drupal “could” interact with ioT devices, about how its cool features “could” help you with the data collection, storing and delivering it in the form of meaningful content, if we don't actually have practical examples to “put our fingers on”, right?

Then let us “talk practical examples”! Here are just a few:

1. A Health-Monitoring System

Now this is probably one of the examples of using Drupal as a back-end support with the biggest impact on users' lives. 

Here is how such a Drupal-powered system would “look” like and function:

  • it could either take the shape of a device to be put on the user's wrist, storing valuable data about his/her health or that of a web-based app installed on his mobile device, aimed at tracking and storing the data related to his/her daily activities, with a direct impact on his health; one that can provide him with real-time analytics
  • Drupal, “acting” as a back-end support, will collate all the data and deliver pertinent graphs and reports to our hypothetical user, data about his health, of course; moreover, it can also to push notifications “reminding” him to engage in a workout, for instance. 

Drupal can even keep our hypothetical user connected with his circle of friends and set up, let's say, certain workout challenges within this particular circle. Pretty cool, don't you think?

2. Online Store for Connected Fridges

Hard to believe that Drupal could actually “make” your fridge order beer for you? Well, you'd better believe it! Drupal can truly power such a system.

Now let's take a look at the whole mechanism behind this “too good to be true” ioT-based scenario:

  • a device installed in your hypothetical fridge would let you know whether you've run (or you're about to) out of grocery or beer
  • this signaled information will then get transmitted and stored in Drupal (which, again, acts as a back-end support)
  • what Drupal will do with the received data depends on what you, the Drupal developer, “program” it to do: it could either send the user recipe suggestions based on the types of food available in his fridge or it can send out notifications on his/her mobile device letting him/her know that he needs to go shopping.

There's more!

I've selected just 2 practical examples of how Drupal can interact with widely used ioT devices for easing our lives and adding value to it. But there are plenty of other examples that I had to leave out.

For instance, imagine this “doable” scenario: an online store can rely on Drupal as a back-end support for placing an order based on a user's food routine and preferences showing in his/her user profile.

Is this enough proof that Drupal can and will play a major role in the Internet of Things' arena?

Just a Few Things About “Headless Drupal”

And so we've seen that, indeed, Drupal is more than “just a tool” for building sites. It's an amazing back-end support for ioT devices, or, even better put: a “bridge” between various devices connected to the internet. 

What I haven't tackled is Drupal's ability to fuel Internet of Things... headless.

What does “headless Drupal” mean?

Well, nothing but Drupal with a JS front-end and its specific back-end. So, it's nothing but replacing its theming layer with a front-end theming library. 

This is not the time and place for talking about the benefits of Drupal 8 having REST Api in its core. The main idea that I wanted to point out as I'm reaching the end of this post is that with headless Drupal capable to serve The Internet of Things you can benefit both from a JS front-end framework and from the flexibility of a Drupal back-end support.

Since “Content is King” has turned into “Consumer is King”, Drupal's ready to streamline your efforts of crafting some truly personalized digital experiences. How about you: are you ready to start perceiving Drupal as a “tool” for collecting, storing and turning user-generated data into tailor-made digital experiences or you'll continue to see Drupal “just” as a website building tool?