Category Archives: Internet of Things Telecoms

Microsoft grows Azure IoT offerings with Solair purchase

Microsoft To Layoff 18,000Microsoft has acquired IoT platform provider Solair in a bid to bolster its Internet of Things division, writes

The acquisition will see Solair integrate with the Azure IoT business within Microsoft, a move which Microsoft says will continue to enhance its IoT offering for enterprise consumers. While it wasn’t forthcoming with in-depth details, suggesting that more specifics are in the offing, Microsoft did highlight some of the areas in which Solair already has its solutions in live deployment.

Solair is already integrated into the Azure cloud, and provides IoT gateways and platforms to both connect and monitor IoTdevices and processes, coupled with customisable management software. According to Sam George, Partner Director for Microsoft’s Azure IoT division, Solair has proven success in developing and deploying industrial IoT services, about which there exists quite a lot of excitement at Microsoft.

“Solair’s IoT customization and deployment solutions, built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, are engineered to help businesses in any industry utilize IoT to run more efficiently and profitably,” he said. “For example, Solair has brought the power of IoT to the Rancilio Group’s full line of espresso machines, allowing the Italian manufacturer to remotely monitor machines resulting in greater efficiency across the supply chain. Using the power of cloud-based data and analytics, Solair has helped the Rancilio Group reduce costs and increase revenue.

The cost of the acquisition to Microsoft is yet to be disclosed, although George did suggest further information and details of the deal are to be release in the not-too-distant future.

Hybrid environments and IoT pose biggest threats to infosec – F5

F5 Forum 2Service providers and enterprises face an insecure networking environment in coming years as more applications, data and services are sent to the cloud, according to networking vendor F5, writes

Speaking at the F5 Forum in London, VP of UK and Ireland Keith Bird stressed security is now front and centre not only to the CTO and CEO, but to consumers as intrusion or security breaches regularly make headlines. Bird pointed to the hybrid on-premise/cloud-based environment, in which an increasing number of enterprise and service providers operate, as a huge challenge looming for the information security industry.

“Not so long ago, we looked at just single points of entry. In today’s hybrid world, we’ve got apps in the data centre or in the cloud as SaaS and this is only increasing,” he said. “What we know for sure is that there is no longer a perimeter to the network – that’s totally disappeared.”

“81% of people we recently surveyed said they plan on operating in a hybrid environment, while 20% said they’re now moving over half of their corporate applications to the cloud. Even some of the largest companies in the world are taking up to 90% of their applications to the cloud.”

Given the volume and nature of data being hosted in the cloud, firms are far more accountable and held to tighter information security standards today than they have ever been. The average financial impact of an information security breach is now in the region of $7.2 million, according to F5 research.

“The average cost of a security breach consists of $110,000 lost revenue per hour of downtime – but the effect on a company’s website or application is costing potential business,” said Bird. “The average customer will abandon an attempted session after roughly four seconds of inactivity, so there’s new business being lost as well.”

F5 said of the threats it is seeing at the moment, according to customer surveys, the evolving nature and sophistication of attacks ranks highest, with the internal threat of employee ignorance a close second.

“So what are the top security challenges our customers are seeing?” said Bird. “58% are seeing increasingly sophisticated attacks on their networks, from zero-day to zero-second. 52% were concerned that their own employees don’t realise the impact of not following security policies. Obviously plenty of people said they don’t have enough budget, but that’s not quite the biggest problem facing security departments today.”

F5’s Technical Director Gary Newe, who’s responsible for field systems engineering, said the looming prospect of IoT “scares the bejesus” out of him.

“We’ve all heard about the IoT,” he said before pointing to the connected fridge as a farcically insecure IoT device. “There are 3 billion devices which run Java, which makes it 3 million hackable devices, and that scares the bejesus out of me. This isn’t just a potential impact to the enterprise, but it could have a massive impact on consumers and families. Fitness trackers, for example, just encourage people to give a tonne of data over to companies we don’t know about, and we don’t know how good their security is.”

The scariest bit, Newe emphasised, is the growing knowledge and intelligence of more technically adept youngsters today, and how the rate of technological change will only exacerbate the requirement for a fresh approach to network security.

“Change is coming at a pace, the likes of which we’ve never seen nor ever anticipated,” he said. “We’re building big walls around our networks, but hackers are just walking through the legitimate front doors we’re putting in instead.

“The scariest thing is that the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] has said the average IQ today is 10 points higher than it was 20 years ago. So teenagers today are smarter than we ever were, they’ve got more compute power than we ever had, and they’re bored. That, to me, is terrifying.”

IBM aims to take Watson IoT to the next level with new global HQ

HighLight Munich Business TowersUS IT giant IBM has made a major statement of intent towards IoT by opening a global HQ dedicated to its Watson Internet of Things offering in Germany, reports

Watson is IBM’s cognitive computing unit, designed to use machine learning and natural language processing to analyse unstructured data. At the core of IoT will be the ability to collect vast amounts of data from billions of different sources and make sense of it. IBM is betting that positioning itself as one of the companies best able to help with that process is the way forward.

The Watson IoT HQ in Munich (pictured) will apparently employ 1,000 IBM developers, consultants, researchers and designers all exploring at the intersection of cognitive computing and IoT. IBM sees Europe as the hub of global IoT development and this HQ is its most extensive European investment in over 20 years.

“The Internet of Things will soon be the largest single source of data on the planet, yet almost 90 percent of that data is never acted upon,” said Harriet Green, GM of Watson IoT and Education. “With its unique abilities to sense, reason and learn, Watson opens the door for enterprises, governments and individuals to finally harness this real-time data, compare it with historical data sets and deep reservoirs of accumulated knowledge, and then find unexpected correlations that generate new insights to benefit business and society alike.”

One early Watson IoT partner is the smart building arm of Siemens. “By bringing asset management and analytics together with a deep technical understanding of how buildings perform, Siemens will make customers’ building operations more reliable, cost-optimized and sustainable,” said Matthias Rebellius, CEO of Siemens Building Technologies. “We are excited to stretch the envelope of what is possible in optimizing building performance by combining the asset management and database technologies from IBM’s Watson IoT business unit with our market leading building automation domain know-how.”

IoT is perhaps the defining technological trend for the next decade, encompassing every part of the ICT spectrum. IBM is right to say that all these embedded sensors and smart devices are pointless unless we use all the data they will generate to make useful decisions. In many ways this is the natural evolution of Big Data and it will be no less challenging to demonstrate ROI on IoT.

BT and the IoT

BT Sevenoaks workstyle buildingIt is often said that the Internet of Things is all about data. Indeed, at its absolute heart, the whole ecosystem could even be reduced to four distinct layers, ones that are essentially applicable to any vertical.

First of all, you have the sensing layer: somehow (using sensors, Wi-Fi, beacons: whatever you can!) you have to collect the data in the first place, often in harsh environments. From there you need to transport the data on a connectivity layer. This could be mobile or fixed, Wi-Fi or something altogether more cutting edge.

Thirdly, you need to aggregate this data, to bring it together and allow it to be exchanged. Finally, there’s the crucial matter of analytics, where the raw data is transformed into something useful.

Operators such as BT sense the opportunities in this process – particularly in the first three stages. Some telcos may have arrived a little late to the IoT table, but there’s no question that – with their copious background developing vast, secure infrastructures – they enjoy some fundamental advantages.

“I see IoT as a great opportunity,” says Hubertus von Roenne, VP Global Industry Practices, BT Global Services. “The more the world is connected, the more you have to rely on a robust infrastructure, whether it’s connectivity or data centres, and the more you have to rely on secure and reliable environment. That’s our home turf. We are already active on all four layers, not only through our global network infrastructure, but also via our secure cloud computing capabilities and a ‘Cloud of Clouds’ technology vision that enables real time data crunching and strategic collaboration across very many platforms.”

An example of how BT is positioning itself can be seen in Milton Keynes, a flagship ‘smart city’ in the UK, with large public and private sector investment. BT is one of over a dozen companies from various industries testing out different use cases for a smarter, more connected city.

“In Milton Keynes we are the technology partner that’s collecting the data. We’ve created a data hub where we allow the information to be passed on, but also make it compatible and usable. The governance body of this Milton Keynes project decided very early to make it open source, open data, and allow small companies or individuals to play around with the data and turn it into applications. Our role is not necessarily to go onto the application layer – we leave that to others – our role is to allow the collection and transmission of data, and we help turn data into usable information.”

One use case BT is involved in is smart parking – figuring out how to help traffic management, reduce carbon footprint, and help the council to reduce costs and better plan for parking availability. “Lots of ideas which can evolve as you collect the data, and that’s BT’s role.”

Another good example of how BT can adapt its offerings to different verticals is its work in telecare and telehealth, where the telco currently partners with the NHS, providing the equipment, monitoring system, and certain administrative and operational units, leaving the medical part to the medical professionals.

While BT’s established UK infrastructure makes it well positioned to assume these kinds of roles in developing smarter cities and healthcare, in other, more commercial areas there are no place-specific constraints.

“Typically our core customer base for global services are the large multinational players,” says von Roenne, “and these operate around the world. We are bringing our network and cloud integration capabilities right down to the manufacturing lines or the coal face of our multinational customers. Just a few weeks ago, we announced a partnership with Rajant Corporation, who specialise in wireless mesh deployments, to enable organisations to connect and gather data from thousands of devices such as sensors, autonomous vehicles, industrial machinery, high-definition cameras and others.”

Indeed, there are countless areas where data can be profitably collated and exploited, and next month von Roenne will be attending Internet of Things World Europe in Berlin, where he will be looking to discover new businesses and business opportunities. “I think there is already a lot of low hanging fruit out there if we just do some clever thinking about using what’s out there,” he says, adding that, often, the area in which the data could really be useful is not necessarily the same as the one it’s being collected in.

The capacity to take a bird’s eye view, bringing together different sectors of the economy for everyone’s mutual benefit, is another advantage BT will point to as it positions itself for the Internet of Things.

Jasper, Microsoft partner on enterprise IoT

Jasper and Microsoft are integrating Jasper's IoT tech with Azure

Jasper and Microsoft are integrating Jasper’s IoT tech with Azure

IoT platform provider Jasper has announced a new strategic partnership with software giant Microsoft designed to help businesses bring IoT services to market more easily, reports

The partnership will involve integrating Jasper’s platform with Microsoft’s Azure cloud suite, a preview of which will be available later this year. The combined platform will aim to cater for the full IoT journey, from sensors and devices, to wireless communication, to big data collection and analysis.

“Through this strategic partnership with Microsoft, we continue to increase the business value of IoT by making it easier and faster for enterprises to bring their IoT services to market, and to scale those services globally,” said Macario Namie, vice president of Strategy at Jasper.

“Our vision for the Azure IoT Suite is to help companies thrive in this era of IoT by delivering preconfigured solutions and world class services that any company, whether startup or the most established global enterprises, can use to create new value,” said Sam George, director of Azure IoT at Microsoft.

“Jasper’s IoT services platform is a critical component of delivering on this vision. By bringing together the Jasper Platform and the Azure IoT Suite, businesses of any size and in any industry can build cost effective IoT solutions for themselves or their customers.”

While it’s been around for over a decade, Jasper is currently accelerating its partnership activity with big tech companies in a sign that IoT itself is approaching critical mass. Earlier this week Jasper announced a similar partnership with Japanese telco SoftBank, to help it introduce IoT solutions to enterprise.

“The Japanese market is enthusiastically embracing the opportunity created by the Internet of Things to transform the way they operate, interact with customers and create revenue,” said Ken Laversin, senior vice president of Worldwide Sales at Jasper, “SoftBank’s partnership with Jasper demonstrates their commitment to bringing cutting edge IoT technology to Japan.”

KT, Nokia launch Internet of Things lab

KT and Nokia said the lab will be a testing ground for IoT innovators

KT and Nokia said the lab will be a testing ground for IoT innovators

Korean telco KT, alongside Nokia Networks, has announced the launch of the country’s first dedicated lab for progressing the development of the internet of things, making good on its MoU pledge at MWC earlier this year, reports

Nokia Networks has slated the lab to be the bedrock of its targeted “Programmable World” project by utilising the convergence of IT and telecoms. It claims small and medium-sized IoT firms looking for advice, expertise and an environment in which to test new products and ideas will be able to make the best use of the lab.

The launch of the lab shows the progress being made in the IoT space, after KT and Nokia signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an IoT lab facility at Mobile World Congress in March. Andrew Cope, Nokia’s head of Korea, said LTE-M (the LTE network enabling M2M communications) is a key basis of the lab’s capabilities, and displayed his pleasure in having the lab ready so soon after the MoU announcement at MWC.

“Executing upon an agreement signed at MWC15, Nokia Networks and KT have taken another step forward on an exciting journey that will culminate in the creation of the ‘Programmable World’ in Korea and beyond,” he said. “After showcasing the world’s first LTE-M for interconnection of sensors, we have now created Korea’s first IoT lab – a solid-point of our commitment to standardise LTE-M and create a strong and sustainable ecosystem.”

Yun Kyoung-Lim, KT’s head of future convergence said the lab’s approach to collaboration in IoT is essential to its development and to seeing its potential realised.

“Together with Nokia Networks, we are leveraging upon the convergence of IT and Telecommunications to hasten our transformation into an ICT powerhouse,” he said. “Furthermore, this lab is a strong iteration of our vision to become the number one player in Korea’s IOT market. Our efforts are aimed at encouraging greater participation by domestic companies, which are a crucial factor in driving the change towards a creative IoT-based economy.”