“This TP shows how oneM2M is a dynamic standard that addresses new requirements while constantly improving the quality of its early components”


In this interview, Roland Hechwartner of Deutsche Telekom (DT) and Chair for oneM2M’s Technical Plenary (TP) describes the latest developments and lessons learned from oneM2M’s recent TP51. It comprised sessions of the technical plenary and all working groups, over the period from August 30th to September 17th, 2021.

Q: What were the major developments to come out of this TP?

RH: Each year, our members have an opportunity to cast their votes to recognize colleagues who have made a major contribution to oneM2M. This year, four individuals received oneM2M Technical Excellence Awards. In other matters, we are seeing good momentum behind oneM2M’s recently launched sustainability initiative.

On the topic of standardization activities, I would group developments into two categories. The first deals with Release 4 activities and some of the new developments that tackle practical application issues. You can think of these as capabilities that support key operational processes. The second category involves improvements to existing areas of the oneM2M technical standards. These are a result of feedback from implementation and review activities. They help us to ensure that our standards are robust and that we are looking for ways to improve on some of the ideas in earlier releases of the standard.

Q: Please explain a bit more about the oneM2M Technical Excellence Awards and this year’s recipients.

RH: The purpose of the awards is to recognize contributions to our Technical Plenary (TP) activities. In this cycle, our members voted to present awards to Marianne Mohali from Orange, for her contributions to the SDT work as well as her work on the TS-0001 Functional Architecture as Rapporteur. Likewise, Marianne is very active as Vice Chair in the Requirements and Domain Models Working Group.

Another recipient is Rana Kamill from BT for her contributions to the oneM2M security discussion with ITU-T SG20. These relate to the comment resolution process for TS-0003 and Rana’s continued support of the oneM2M security work. We recognized Massimo Vanetti who represents the EU’s association for Small Business Standards (SBS) for his engagement in the industrial area, his work with various SMEs as well as for representing oneM2M on various occasions at external industry events. Our fourth award recipient is Andreas Neubacher from Deutsche Telekom. The award is to thank him for his technical contribution to the work of oneM2M and in recognition of the numerous times he has represented oneM2M at industry events, workshops, and conferences. In past years, we have recognized winners in person. We miss the chance to applaud and congratulate individuals in person. I’m sure you will see posts from our Marketing team over the coming weeks, with photos that our award winners took with their plaques.

Q: oneM2M’s sustainability initiative has been going for a few months. What are its accomplishments to date?

RH: Dale Seed of Convida Wireless, who is the convenor for the sustainability initiative, gave TP attendees a good presentation about recent developments. The early work has focused on building up a group of interested members and generating awareness of issues around IoT and sustainability. Dale and others have published several articles online. There has also been a webinar on IoT sustainability topics such as low-code approaches and the future of ultra-low-powered devices.

Several members have been collaborating on a White Paper which was going through its final review process at the time of the TP. That White Paper is now available in the public domain, and I encourage readers to look through its contents. It deals with an important topic from the viewpoints of a diverse set of companies and stakeholders that are involved in oneM2M’s sustainability initiative. There are application examples that demonstrate how IoT technologies can help society address sustainability challenges and how individual businesses can meet sustainability goals. It also encourages IoT stakeholders to apply responsible IoT system design and deployment principles.

Q: It seems that oneM2M is tackling several operational aspects related to IoT system deployments. Would you summarize the key developments?

RH: Yes, you can say that the early work on oneM2M standardization addressed a set of basic building blocks. Examples include connectivity and device management within the framework of a horizontal architecture that provides a means of abstracting complex technology details to reduce the knowledge burden on IoT application developers.

Several activities at this TP dealt with capabilities that will feature in Release 4 of the standard. For context, let me remind you that our process for ensuring quality in oneM2M standards follows a three-stage process. Stage 1 corresponds to use cases and the derivation of requirements from those use cases. Ideally, we want to identify common or repeated requirements as these are the right candidates for standardization.  Stage 2 deals with architectural aspects of these requirements while stage 3 deals with protocol specifications. During this TP, participants finalized a set of new features which corresponds to the so-called stage 3 freeze milestone. From now, only corrections and clarifications are allowed in the coming weeks to get the specifications ready for publication by the oneM2M partners. Examples of some of these new features include the following:

  • There was agreement on a new common services function (CSF) which is labeled Session Management. This CSF provides capabilities to establish, configure and manage sessions between oneM2M entities (i.e., session endpoints). These sessions define session descriptions and policies used to enable message exchanges between the session endpoints. Release 4 supports the management of two types of sessions, one being end-to-end QoS sessions and the other multimedia sessions. In the case of end-to-end QoS sessions, the Session Management CSF applies session policies to configure and manage the establishment and tear-down of a QoS session in an underlying network used by the oneM2M entities. The session policies are also used to manage the scheduling and store-and-forwarding of oneM2M requests and responses exchanged between the oneM2M entities over oneM2M defined reference points and protocols. For the second case, involving multimedia sessions, the Session Management CSF enables applications (AEs) to exchange and agree upon a session description defining the configuration of a multimedia session that the applications then establish between themselves. As with other oneM2M CSFs, the aim is to automate various ‘housekeeping’ activities so that developers can focus on building their applications and systems without having to become experts in so many different underlying technologies.
  • Another addition to Release 4 is the Process Management CSF. Many IoT use cases (e.g., home automation, manufacturing, logistics and agriculture) involve repeated processes to collect data produced by sensor devices, to analyze this data, and to perform actions such as issuing a command to one or more actuator devices or, sending a notification to an application when certain values or thresholds for the data have been met. The new capability allows an IoT device or an application to define and offload a process to the Process Management CSF. This offloading process can simplify and reduce overhead on an AE, which can be important when using constrained devices. Offloading a process can also help reduce load on a network by reducing the number of messages exchanged between an endpoint (i.e., an AE in oneM2M terminology) and an IoT platform (i.e., a common service entity in oneM2M terms).

Q: You mentioned that oneM2M members also continue to review and improve on the baseline building blocks. Would you provide a few examples of that from this TP?

RH: While our members continue to explore new use cases and identify new standardization requirements, implementation and interoperability test activities help us to improve the quality of published specifications. An example is some implementation feedback and input contributions that helped us to clarify the ‘Time Series’ function and to resolve an ambiguity in the documentation. Through a similar process, we also agreed updates to the attribute based ACPs (access control policy) functionality as well as for the Software campaign functionality.

Another area that we have been looking at relates to the Smart Device Template and potential improvements from using the ‘flexContainer’ resource type. To explain further, the Container resource is used for sharing data instances between entities such as an AE sensor and an AE dashboard. It functions as a mediator that buffers data exchanged between AEs and/or CSEs. The flexContainer resource type is a customizable container for data instances. In other words, it provides a template for the definition of flexible specializations of data containers which are used to share information with other entities and to track the data. They can also include associated content directly inside the flexContainer in zero or more customizable attributes.

We introduced flexContainers into oneM2M’s Smart Device Template (SDT) as a means of allowing developers to create an abstract information model to handle various kinds of IoT device. The SDT is an elegant way to standardize interactions in a way that applies to many kinds of devices. That provides flexibility when devices and device-attributes are not known in advance when specifying an IoT system. As part of our review activities, a team from Orange examined the possibility migrating the Device Management (DM) common service function towards the SDT model. This is out of a concern that the DM CSF might introduce complexity in IoT deployments and devices. The conclusion from their study is that it is not desirable to engage in a full migration of the current DM CSF, which is based on Management Objects, to an SDT-based DM. However, there is now a proposal for a new work item on an Interworking Proxy Entity (IPE) based Device Management function, potentially using the flexibility of flexContainer resource types. This study is a good example of how oneM2M members continue to re-assess existing capabilities with a view to addressing improvements. it shows that oneM2M is a dynamic standard that can keep pace with new developments and new requirements.

Q: Finally, we have spoken about Release 5 activities in the past. What is the latest on that front?

RH: We have started to discuss the scope and timeline for Release 5. This release will comprise functionalities such as advanced semantic discovery, system enhancements to support data protection regulations, interworking with the Sensor Thing’s API, effective IoT communication to protect 3GPP networks. We are also looking at system enhancements to support Data License Management which, among others, will enable smart city and many other use cases. The freeze milestone for stage 1, which means the deadline for accepting new normative requirements for release 5 was set to Q1 2022. As we have publicized, we are open to suggestions from the wider industry and there will hopefully be an opportunity to gather inputs at our hybrid TP in December.

AI is an important field for the IoT industry, and I’m pleased to report that we continue to make progress on a technical report (TR) which provides an introduction and use cases to enable AI in oneM2M. At this meeting, we discussed and agreed new use cases and potential requirements for the AI/ML enablement within the scope of a new work item WI-0105.

There is an active pipeline of new work items the scope of which we will discuss before approving in future TP meetings.