"MQTT is just for IoT... right?"

diva-e IoT expert contribution

Since I have been dealing with the topics Internet of Things (IoT) in general and with the messaging protocol MQTT in particular - and that has been quite some time now - I keep encountering statements like "MQTT is only for IoT!" or "That's way too far away from what we do, we don't do IoT." My answer to this is: no, MQTT is not just for IoT!

"MQTT is just for IoT... right?"

MQTT was developed in 1999 by Andy Stanford-Clark (IBM) and Arlen Nipper (Cirrus Link Solutions). It was only in the same year that the term "Internet of Things" was coined by a talk given by Kevin Ashton (Executive Director Auto-ID Labs) at MIT. Of course, the original application of MQTT, namely the monitoring of oil pipelines by sending telemetry data, suggests a use in the field of sensor technology. But let's take a closer look at the protocol.

MQTT and IoT: A dream team?

MQTT was developed with the goal of creating a lightweight, bandwidth-efficient and payload-independent protocol that is suitable for use over unreliable transmission paths and provides different levels of quality of service (QoS). MQTT works on the publish/subscribe principle. All these properties undoubtedly predestine the protocol for use in IoT scenarios. But why should one therefore want to sacrifice lightweightness, reliability, efficiency and payload independence in other application areas?

MQTT use cases: from chatbots to AI

With the help of an MQTT broker, many exciting and useful use cases can be implemented in no time at all, including a chat application, for example. Okay, that doesn't sound really exciting yet, but let's think a little further and let our imagination run wild. What if this chat application is not just for people to talk to each other? MQTT is easy to implement and client SDKs exist for more or less all systems and programming languages in use today. So why not integrate systems over it? And with a few more ingredients, such as the rule engine Node-Red, we quickly have our own chatbot. From here, many other perspectives quickly open up, with keywords ranging from chat commerce to data driven or artificial intelligence.

Of course, this is a somewhat simplified and idealized representation, and the real world is more complex. But that is not the point here. The point is to debunk the prejudice that MQTT is exclusively a protocol for the Internet of Things. It is by no means that, and modern MQTT brokers are powerful systems that often have the appropriate extensibility to be able to integrate them into many enterprise solutions. It doesn't always have to be a Kafka cluster. And if it does, MQTT and Kafka can also be connected via appropriate broker extensions.

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