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Architecture#

Components#

Mainflux IoT platform is comprised of the following services:

Service Description
users Manages platform's users and auth concerns
things Manages platform's things, channels and access policies
http-adapter Provides an HTTP interface for accessing communication channels
mqtt-adapter Provides an MQTT and MQTT over WS interface for accessing communication channels
coap-adapter Provides a CoAP interface for accessing communication channels
opcua-adapter Provides an OPC-UA interface for accessing communication channels
lora-adapter Provides a LoRa Server forwarder for accessing communication channels
mainflux-cli Command line interface

arch

Domain Model#

The platform is built around 3 main entities: users, things and channels.

User represents the real (human) user of the system. It is represented via its e-mail and password, which he uses as platform access credentials in order to obtain an access token. Once logged into the system, user can manage his resources (i.e. things and channels) in CRUD fashion and define access control policies by connecting them.

Thing represents devices (or applications) connected to Mainflux that uses the platform for message exchange with other "things".

Channel represents a communication channel. It serves as message topic that can be consumed by all of the things connected to it.

Messaging#

Mainflux uses NATS as its messaging backbone, due to its lightweight and performant nature. You can treat its subjects as physical representation of Mainflux channels, where subject name is constructed using channel unique identifier.

In general, there is no constrained put on content that is being exchanged through channels. However, in order to be post-processed and normalized, messages should be formatted using SenML.

Edge#

Mainflux platform can be run on the edge as well. Deploying Mainflux on a gateway makes it able to collect, store and analyze data, organize and authenticate devices. To connect Mainflux instances running on a gateway with Mainflux in a cloud we can use two gateway services developed for that purpose:

Unified IoT Platform#

Running Mainflux on gateway moves computation from cloud towards the edge thus decentralizing IoT system. Since we can deploy same Mainflux code on gateway and in the cloud there are many benefits but the biggest one is easy deployment and adoption - once the engineers understand how to deploy and maintain the platform, they will have the same known work across the whole edge-fog-cloud continuum. Same set of tools can be used, same patches and bug fixes can be applied. The whole system is much easier to reason about, and the maintenance is much easier and less costly.