The Five Layers of the IoT Cake

You might not be able to find an IoT cake in your local bakery, but the structure of Internet of Things closely resembles some of your favorite sweet treats. IoT is the icing on top of a five-layered cake – each layer with its own technology, market segmentation and business opportunities. Each also comes with its own pace of innovation and strategic trends. As IoT solutions become more dynamic and comprehensive, so too does the ecosystem of technology and devices. Here are the five distinct layers of the IoT cake:

The Edge

This is made up of the devices, nodes, and sensors that collect data and provide an entry point into the networks. These system endpoints streamline the data flow at the boundary between two or more networks. They interact and communicate real-time data from smart products and services and allow local data analysis. Local data analysis increases low latency and allows the processing of large amounts of data, thereby avoiding transportation to the cloud.

The Gateway

Either a physical device or software that allows data to flow from the edge to the platform, the gateway improves network performance and response times by analyzing data at the edge prior to transmission. The new generation IoT gateways are intelligent and capable of filtering out the high priority information from and taking action on the data received. For example, if the gateway senses that the temperature is too high, the gateway can send instructions to turn on the air conditioner.

The IoT Platform

The IoT platform facilitates communication, data flow, device management, and the functionality of applications. Smart device vendors and startups can use it to equip their products with remote control and real-time monitoring functions, configurable alerts and notifications, pluggable cloud services, and integration with consumers’ smartphones and other devices.

Software Applications

These are the programs that users access to solve their business problems working with data stored in the IoT platform. There are thousands of contrasting IoT software development vendors, often a source of confusion for businesses looking to partner and build technology to fit its existing infrastructure.


This is an important category with major challenges. It involves mechanisms that protect the Edge, and the data as it’s transmitted through the gateway, the platform, and all the way to the user. There are numerous threat vectors such as authentication and authorization, software, device and network threats and system vulnerabilities, all making this a huge area of focus for innovation.