"Our international members have adapted to 'virtual' Technical Plenaries and we are on track to publish Release 4 specifications"

August 2020 - In this interview, Roland Hechwartner of Deutsche Telekom (DT) and Chairman for oneM2M's Technical Plenary (TP) describes the latest developments and lessons learned from oneM2M's recent TP46.

Q: This is oneM2M's second TP using a virtual format. Is this working well?
Roland Hechwartner Portrait 002

RH: Our in-person TP sessions are usually arranged over a period of a single week in different locations, giving international members an opportunity to attend in person. Given the current public health situation, we arranged working sessions over a period of several weeks. We also scheduled the timing of group meetings to accommodate members who are calling in from different parts of the world. Despite these changes and challenging circumstances, member companies remain engaged and continue to contribute to the work in oneM2M. Good progress was made on several topics at this meeting as we adapt to the new circumstances. There is a greater use of email as members exchange ideas and collaborate on detailed issues offline. The new approach is productive, and we remain on track to finalize Release-4 in 2020 and to ratify the release in Q1 2021.

Q: What were the highlights from this TP?

RH: This TP addressed a mix of topics ranging from information to help software developers use Release 3 of oneM2M standards, to making progress on standardizing new capabilities that will appear in Release 4 and Release 5 of the standard. We also made progress on liaisons with other industry and standardization bodies and laid out plans for an interoperability testing event later this year.

Q: How would you describe the initiative to help developers use oneM2M standards?

RH: Let me first provide some background, using a simple model for illustrative purposes, about oneM2M REST APIs. These are used to manage data generated by Application Entities (AE), which correspond to IoT device or application endpoints, and Common Service Entities (CSE), which are correspond to middleware IoT platforms. These REST APIs handle CRUDN (Create, Retrieve, Update, Delete and Notification) operations for oneM2M resources, as specified by the oneM2M standard. This set of common APIs can be used by all developers without dependencies on specific platforms or software packages. Their use provides a true 'write once and run anywhere' experience.

During this TP, members approved a new work item on a oneM2M API Guide for Release 3 (WI-103). The companies supporting this work item include Hansung University, KETI, ETRI, Nokia, and Deutsche Telekom. The objective of this work item is to update the TR-0051 document (oneM2M API Guide) to match the APIs corresponding to the Release 3 specifications which address new resources, features, and functions. The goal is to provide a collection of the main APIs, not to cover all the resources of the specifications.

The new documentation will be helpful for software developers. It will provide an overall understanding of the main functions offered by the oneM2M architecture, before going more deeply into the analysis of the oneM2M standards. Sorted by resource type and type of operations, developers can quickly find examples of REST APIs providing guidance to quickly develop respective software. For each CRUDN message, the guide will provide a full description, applicability, pre-requirement, call flow, resource URL information, message header information and example of request and response messages.

Q: And what are some of the new capabilities that came up during this TP?

RH: I am pleased to say that we completed five Release 4 work items during TP46.

In addition to its work on release 5 features, the Requirements and Domain Model (RDM) working group dealt with two Release 4 work items. One of these was WI-0075 on the topic of Industrial Domain Information Model Mapping and Semantic Support. The goal of this work was to study the Industrial Domain Information Model and its semantics features with the aim of enabling oneM2M systems in the industrial domain. This study, its results and conclusion are now available in a new Technical Report, TR-0049 - Industrial Domain Information Model Mapping and Semantics Support.

The Work Item (WI) on Smart Device Template 4.0 is the second work item completed by the RDM working group. The Smart Device Template (SDT) is a template method which is used to model the capabilities, actions, and events of connected devices. The intent of the SDT is to give developers a tool to model any type of connected device using a well-accepted and standardised format. The design principle of the oneM2M abstract information model for home appliances is to use SDT 3.0, which is defined in oneM2M TR 0017. The latest work item enhanced the SDT 3.0 to its 4.0 version, which supports requirements from other verticals and additional information models. The SDT 4.0 is published under the 3-Clause license BSD License on the oneM2M GitLab. This evolution is a good example of how oneM2M seeks to build on and continuously enhance existing capabilities.

The three other items we completed during this TP fall within the scope of the System Design & Security (SDS) working group. The first of these was the work item on Enhancements on Semantic Support. Release 2 partially specified the functionality and protocol enhancements required for semantic support of oneM2M based on sematic annotation and simple queries, for example. Release 3 provided the new TR-0033 studying semantic solutions and TS-0034 adding key semantic functionalities like semantic queries, semantic mashups, and support for managing ontologies. While these are key advances in the support of semantics, not all requirements identified in oneM2M have been fulfilled in Release 3. This WI further progressed the work identified in Release 4. An example of this is the definition of basic capabilities to enable semantic reasoning and basic capabilities to enable and support analytics.

The second SDS work Item dealt with interworking with 3GPP networks. This WI specifies an interworking arrangement between a oneM2M service layer and Cellular IoT network (3GPP Rel13, Rel14 & Rel15) features. This allows for some 3GPP (Rel-13, Rel-14 & Rel-15) features to be exposed to the oneM2M service layer for the benefit of IoT applications, and vice-versa (some oneM2M features that can be used by Cellular IoT networks). The mapping of relevant oneM2M data to the parameters exposed by the 3GPP Service Capability Exposure Function (SCEF) northbound API, in TS 23.682 and TS 29.122, has been specified.

In case this sounds complicated, here is what it means for IoT developers and mobile network operators. oneM2M interworks with underlying network technologies to help manage network connectivity and communication to IoT devices on behalf of applications. This eases application development tasks for developers since they do not need to take care of 3GPP specificities. At the same time, it helps network operators to control access to the network and enables them to restrict "misbehaving" applications from disrupting the network. These operational safeguards reply on functions that support the scheduling and buffering of messages based on device reachability, selection of underlying network connectivity options for device communication, triggering of devices to establish a network connection based on when applications need to communicate with devices, and QoS configuration based on applications needs.

The third SDS work Item dealt with Modbus interworking, which is a widely adopted protocol in industrial and other domains. KETI, Hyundai Motor, ZTE, Datang, BOE, Hitachi, Computer Network Information Center, and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CNIC) supported this work.

Q: Looking outside of oneM2M, what are the activities involving other bodies?

RH: We have been working for some time with The ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) to transpose oneM2M standards into the ITU-T's format. During this TP, we made good progress on our collaboration with ITU-T SG20 (Internet of things and smart cities and communities to resolve comments on oneM2M's security specification and to explore more general terms for closer collaboration and exchange of information in the future.

Over the past few months, I have spoken about expanding the oneM2M ecosystem to address different aspects of adoption. In this context, our Testing & Developers Ecosystem (TDE) WG met with the Global Certification Forum (GCF) to discuss the next steps on certification of oneM2M Release 2 as well as the oneM2M Core specification and Test Specification development plan for Rel-3 & 4.

Finally, representatives from the GSMA's recently launched Operator Platform Group (OPG) gave a presentation of their activities and invited oneM2M to participate in further collaboration. Their interest is in making networks programmable and finding ways to expose and monetise network capabilities. This looks like a promising area for cooperation because oneM2M standardisation also supports federated systems which correspond to the network arrangements that mobile network operators already use in their current operational models. Also, oneM2M was conceived as a distributed architecture that aligns with the Fog & Edge paradigm which is one of the topics that the OPG's Telco-Edge Taskforce is working on. In oneM2M, we are currently preparing a response to the OPG showing where and how the oneM2M standard fulfils their requirements.

Q: Finally, what's next?

RH: We hear a lot about Release 4 which is going through stage 3 of our standardization process and on track for publication in 2020.

Within the TDE working group, work on developing Rel-3 Testing specifications progressed well and parallel to activities on oneM2M Release-4 Testing specifications and Test Purposes for discovery-based operations. I mention these activities in the context of the 7th oneM2M Interop Event which will also be our first remote interoperability event. Registration is currently open for this and participation is free of charge. The event is scheduled for 16-27 October 2020 co-located with the TP47, co-organized by TTA, ETSI and the Indico Project. The oneM2M Interop Event delivers several benefits to solution providers and developers. It helps to validate the oneM2M standards in order to eliminate ambiguities and potential issues. It provides a forum to test interoperability between implementations from different companies as well as to provide conformance testing to verify the existing TTCN-3 test scripts as well as to debug participants' implementations. The scope of the interoperability test event covers Release 2 and Release 3 features.

Finally, considering the global status of the COVID-19 pandemic, oneM2M leadership decided to re-schedule all meetings in 2020 and in Q1 2021 as virtual meetings. The key dates cover TP47 (Sep 28 - Oct 23, 2020), TP48 (Nov 30 - Dec 18, 2020) and TP49 (Jan 18 - Feb 10, 2020).