A Quick Look at Temboo IoT Service

I have been checking out IoT service providers to see which ones are potentially worth using for my Raspberry Pi based experiments (with my Raspberry Pi Daq setup).

My main Pi Daq system has 24 channels of 12 bit analog input, eight channels configured as 0-4.096V with 1mV resolution, and sixteen channels configured as 0-8.192V.

I’ve been logging channels at rates between once per 0.01sec to once per six minutes, usually to CSV files, depending on the test I am running. Recently, I’ve also been experimenting with logging data to “the cloud”.

Today I am taking a “Quick Look” at Temboo.com. I found out about Temboo in a thread on the Raspberry Pi forums.

Temboo Quick Look @ http://Mikronauts.com

(click on image for larger version)

I’ll start by saying there are quite a few things to like about Temboo – they have obviously invested a lot of money in setting up their site, and even more into marketing it.

There are a lot of tutorials and videos on their site, along with a large number of “Choreo’s” available for use.

Once of my pet peeves is marketing departments thinking up new names instead of names already in use.

Why not simply call “Choreo’s” what they appear to be? Web pages connected to generating scripts to connect to other web services, scripts to analyze data, and user device like Arduinos interface scripts.

One of their videos shows how you can fill in fields in a form to stream temperature and light data to a Microsoft Power BI account – it even generates an Arduino sketch for you.

That seems great, and will really appeal to non-techies (and pointy haired bosses) who will not calculate their usage cost before signing up.

I am not worried about sticker shock experienced by PHB’s (they deserve it for not doing their due diligence).

I am worried about new makers, who do not even think in terms of calculating their future costs before signing up and using IoT services.

I n order to evaluate the value proposition presented by Temboo, I signed up for their free account, to see if it was worth investing my time in using their service.

Here is their pricing structure:

Temboo Quick Look @ http://Mikronauts.com

(click on image for larger version)

Ok, they break things into amount of data transferred per month, and amount of calls per month.

Wait a second. What is a “call”?

I did not find an easily comprehensible definition on their web site. Time to try technical support…


Temboo Care, Apr 21, 11:48:

Hi there. Thanks for getting in touch.

A call is counted each time you execute a Choreo in the library. This includes executions that come from your code, the Temboo website, or from Twyla (our Choreo Designer).

If you were updating multiple values in a single call, this would still count as just 1 call. Viewing data that was previously uploaded would typically require another call, so this scenario might be 2 calls – 1 call to upload and 1 call to retrieve a result.

You can read more about Temboo plans here:

https://www.temboo.com/pricing

Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Thanks,

xxxxxx (name redacted)


The good news is that you can apparently batch up a number of values at once – so if you wanted to upload say 100 values (for all the sensors in your house) that could count as only one call.

The bad news is that basically everything counts as a call – executing an update script, filling in a script (choreo) form, editing in the form designer, and the “executions that come from your code, the Temboo website” suggests to me that when you display a page that shows data generated by a script at Temboo.com, that counds as a call.

Let’s do a bit of cost analysis…

Account Type Cost/month GB/month Calls/month Calls/day Calls/hour Calls/minute
Free Free 1 250 8.1 0.3 0.0
Maker Plan $7.00 n/a 25000 806.5 33.6 0.6
POWER $49.00 16 100000 3225.8 134.4 2.2
ULTRA $199.00 80 500000 16129.0 672.0 11.2
EPIC $349.00 160 1000000 32258.1 1344.1 22.4

Yellow indicates usage cases that are not useful in my humble opinion.

Now if what I understand about calls is correct, the numbers under calls/day, calls/hour, and calls/minute represent the total number of updates, web page views, or script (sorry Choreo) executions possible in that time period.

Now imagine running a popular web site, and embedding something generated from a “Choreo” call in a web page… and having that page bring a lot of traffic. You could easily go through a million calls in a few days!

As far as I can tell:

  • Free plan is useless for home monitoring
  • Maker Plan would be enough to monitor/view the sensors in your home roughly every five minutes
  • POWER plan would let you monitor/view your home every minute
  • ULTRA plan would let you monitor/view your home about five times a minute
  • EPIC would let you display your home monitored result on a moderately popular web site

I welcome corrections in case any of the calculations – or how calls are counted – are incorrect, and will be happy to update the article with corrections.

Frankly, I thought the InitialState service was too expensive, however Temboo manages to be even more costly.

I think there will be valid business cases for hosted IoT services “in the cloud”, however in order for their adoption to be wide spread, services will have to take a careful look at their pricing structures, and the needs of their target audience.

I am certain there must be some business out there for whom the monthly cost of such services is easily justified by not having to have an on-site IT person – heck even the EPIC plan at $349/month is a drop in the bucket by comparison to the fully burdened cost of an IT person – as long as the non-IT staff are capable of maintaining the IoT feed and “Choreos”. I think this is Temboo’s target market.

I will not be using Tamboo, as by my cost analysis, I’d have to get EPIC level of service (at least) for my needs – and I just can’t justify spending $349/month for what they provide.

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