Category Archives: IoT

The Internet of Things: Where hope tends to triumph over common sense

The Internet of Things is coming. But not anytime soon.

The Internet of Things is coming. But not anytime soon.

The excitement around the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, and even more bullish predictions and lavish promises will be made made about and on behalf of it in the coming months. 2015 will see us reach “peak oil” in the form of increasingly outlandish predictions and plenty of over-enthusiastic venture capital investments.

But the IoT will not change the world in 2015. It will take at least 10 years for the IoT to become pervasive enough to transform the way we live and work, and in the meantime it’s up to us to decode the hype and figure out how the IoT will evolve, who will benefit, and what it takes to build an IoT network.

Let’s look at the predictions that have been made for the number of connected devices. The figure of 1 trillion has been used several times by a range of incumbents and can only have been arrived at using a very, very relaxed definition of what a “connected thing” is. Of course, if you’re willing to include RFID tags in your definition this number is relatively easy to achieve, but it doesn’t do much to help us understand how the IoT will evolve. At Ovum, we’re working on the basis of a window of between 30 billion and 50 billion connected devices by 2020. The reason for the large range is that there are simply too many factors at play to be any more precise.

Another domain where enthusiasm appears to be comfortably ahead of common sense is in discussions about the volume of data that the IoT will generate. Talk of an avalanche of data is nonsense. There will be no avalanche; instead we’ll see a steadily rising tide of data that will take time to become useful. When building IoT networks the “data question” is one of the things architects spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about. In truth, the creators of IoT networks are far more likely to be disappointed that their network is taking far longer than expected to reach the scale of deployment necessary to produce the volumes of data they had boasted about to their backers.

This article appeared in the latest issue of the BCN Magazine. Click here to download a digital version.

Even the question of who will make money out of the IoT, and where they will make it, is being influenced too much by hope and not enough by common sense. The future of the IoT does not lie in the connected home or in bracelets that count your steps and measure your heartbeat. The vast majority of IoT devices will not beautify our homes or help us with our personal training regime. Instead they will be put to work performing very mundane tasks like monitoring the location of shipping containers, parcels, and people. The “Industrial IoT” which spans manufacturing, utilities, distribution and logistics will make up by far the greatest share of the IoT market. These devices will largely remain unseen by us, most will be of an industrial grey colour, and only a very small number of them will produce data that is of any interest whatsoever outside a very specific and limited context.

Indeed, the “connected home” is going to be one of the biggest disappointments of the Internet of Things, as its promoters learn that the ability to change the colour of your livingroom lights while away on business doesn’t actually amount to a “life changing experience”. That isn’t to say that our homes won’t be increasingly instrumented and connected, they will. But the really transformational aspects of the IoT lie beyond the home.

There are two other domains where IoT will deliver transformation, but over a much longer timescale than enthusiasts predict. In the world of automotive, cars will become increasingly connected and increasingly smart. But it will take over a decade before the majority of cars in use can boast the levels of connectivity and intelligence we are now seeing in experimental form. The other domain that will be transformed over the long-term is healthcare, where IoT will provide us with the ability to monitor and diagnose conditions remotely, and enable us to deliver increasingly sophisticated healthcare services well beyond the boundaries of the hospital or the doctor’s surgery.

Gary Barnett

But again, we are in the earliest stages of research and experimentation and proving some of the ideas are practical, safe and beneficial enough to merit broader roll-out will take years and not months. The Internet of Things will transform the way we understand our environment as well as the people and things that exist within it, but that transformation will barely have begun by 2020.

Gary Barnett is Chief Analyst, Software with Ovum and also serves as the CTO for a non-profit organisation that is currently deploying what it hopes will become the world’s biggest urban air quality monitoring network.

Wireless IoT Forum launches to drive Internet of Things development

The Internet of Things is in need of standards

The Internet of Things is in need of standards

The Wireless IoT Forum (WIoTF) has announced its launch, saying it aims to drive the standardisation and deployment of connected devices and appliances, and the development and adoption of wireless wide-area networking (WAN) technologies, reports

The organisation said it will work with stakeholders across the board, including operators, infrastructure providers, app developers in utilities, government and specialist SMEs, semiconductor vendors, and end-users.

Its goal, according to the WIoTF, is to encourage the adoption of WAN IoT connectivity in competition with, or as a complement to, LAN, PAN, mesh and other options, spanning all forms of WAN connectivity, including 3GPP cellular-IoT and license-exempt WAN IoT

Although the founding members of the WIoTF won’t be revealed until 28 April, apparently to be announced at the M2M World Congress, the group said Will Franks has been appointed as Chairman and William Webb as CEO. Franks’ background is in Cisco-acquired small cell vendor Ubiquisys, where he was Founder and CTO. Webb is currently also President at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), as well as previously having held senior positions at Ofcom.

According to Franks, openness is a key to successful mobile technologies. “Successful wireless technologies have always been founded on interoperability, open standards, and a focus on the demands of end-users,” he said.

“The Forum is committed to securing these conditions and working with all major stakeholders to ensure successful and timely deployment of the Internet of Things worldwide. We are delighted to have helped bring together key industry players with the common goal of driving standardisation and interoperability. These players have the vision to recognise the need to collaborate to create robust technology platforms while competing to create dynamic markets.”

One of the aims of the WIoTF is to minimise fragmentation within the IoT market. Webb said: “The wireless Internet of Things is bringing connectivity and control to an order of magnitude more devices, however there is a very real risk of fragmented standards and technologies holding back the development of the market.

“There has also been a tremendous amount of work done in the IoT world across a wide range of technologies. As in the cellular world, the success of this will lie in the promotion of open standards. The Forum will work tirelessly to make this a reality in the IoT world.”

Nicolas Graube, fellow at Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR), agreed with the view the IoT will not materialise in a meaningful way unless common standards are put in place. Commenting on the back of an announcement about Cambridge Wireless’ upcoming Future of Wireless International Conference (to be held 23 and 24 June), he said: “The IoT is arguably at the peak of its hype cycle and there are some significant obstacles that must be overcome before this dream can become a reality.

“Standardisation coupled with the logistics involved in managing, protecting and making accessible the constant stream of data generated by an ever growing number of connected devices are just some of the key challenges that lie ahead’.

IoT certainly has been one of the industry’s most prominent buzzwords for some time but it seems lately a growing number of people have started to voice concern over the absence of any standardisation. As recently reported by, the importance of security and simplicity of use have also been highlighted as key considerations for the IoT. It looks like the period of hype is beginning to come to an end and the industry needs to start focusing on developing a framework under which the IoT can materialise in a meaningful way.

The 2nd annual Internet of Things World event to be held in San Francisco in May is due to address some of the challenges ahead of the industry in terms of IoT. Sign up here.


NXP: ‘Industry needs to ensure IoT is simple and secure’

Internet of Things devices need to be simple and secure if customers are to adopt

Internet of Things devices need to be simple and secure if customers are to adopt

The entire telecoms industry needs to focus on ensuring the IoT delivers real value to consumers, and the security and user simplicity of connected devices should be of paramount importance, said Jeff Fonseca, the regional sales director, Americas at chip vendor NXP in an interview with

As an NFC specialist whose customer case examples in the contactless payments space include the London Underground’s contactless travel, the badges at MWC, and several banks’ EMV cards, NXP is increasingly focusing on IoT. According to Fonseca, securing connected devices is something that has to happen for consumers to really get on board with the IoT.

“What we bring in terms of IoT is really the security. All the [secure] stuff we do in passports, all the stuff we do on bank cards, and secure payments, getting you securely onto trains, that type of secure technology, embedding that and infusing that into other categories like IoT [is on our agenda].”

But he said it is not yet clear what exactly is behind the much hyped term. “Honestly, IoT is a big word that I don’t know has a true definition of what’s going to be the one key thing that is IoT. There’s so many moving pieces and parts the difficulty is really unwrapping that, and then making sure we know where we need to be on the trajectory with the right players and partners.

“We need to have ways to execute upon very good security and connectivity that is simple for consumers to use, and that is scalable. It [IoT] shouldn’t be just a buzz word, it should actually have usable value for the consumer.”

Fonseca said there’s not much point in having numerous connected devices in the home unless there’s one common way to communicate with them. “You’re not gona have 10 different devices that all talk a different language in your home, that’s not gona scale in the IoT space. But if you have the ability to have a few devices that talk a similar language, then consumers start to see value from the perspective of managing your home with your smartphone, for example.”

But with having billions of devices connected to the internet come security implications, and Fonseca said ensuring consumers’ security is a key consideration. “How does that work, and how does that work securely? How do you take the cloud and connect it down to these end-point devices in your home and still manage them with your smartphone or your tablet.

“These are the difficult conversations we all have to have as an industry to move in that direction to make sure that in the end it’s all about the consumer, and making sure that there’s an extremely simple and usable product for them. Even though it’s complex underneath to do all this stuff that has to happen in IoT, the consumer doesn’t care, the consumer just wants it to work and they want it to be secure.”

At the MWC 2015 NXP was showcasing its product portfolio, which on top of the technology to secure bank cards and passports also includes solutions for connected car, wireless mobile charging, and ‘smart-audio’ solutions that enhance voice and call clarity based on information passed on by algorithms designed to recognise the environment from which the call is made. The firm has also developed wireless, magnetic inductance-based earbuds as part of a concept it calls ‘true mobility’.

At the beginning of the month NXP announced its plan to acquire competitor Freescale Semiconductor. “We are going to acquire them and the announcement so far has stated that part of that [acquisition] is this IoT convergence play,” Fonesca said. “Freescale is very strong in that category as well, and we’ll see some obvious synergies from taking what NXP has and from what they can bring to the table towards an IoT play.”

Visit the world’s largest & most comprehensive IoT event – Internet of Things World – this May

Business Cloud News magazine Issue 2 | March/April 2015

OFC_BCN_April15-1Business Cloud News is proud to announce the second issue of BCN is now available online.

In this issue we focus on the two interrelated trends – which create equally entangled issues and questions – and the cloud’s role therein: Big Data and the Internet of Things.

We asked over 700 senior IT decision makers globally about their big data rollout plans in order to get a better sense of their views on where the challenges and bottlenecks lie, and crucially, what components of their data systems will move to the cloud, when, and why.

Also in this issue, we look at the role open source cloud technologies are playing in the rapid transformation of the film and TV industries; the IT strategy driving the innovative vehicle manufacturer Nissan; and the growing presence of cloud computing in what is often thought to be a technologically conservative industry – the financial services sector.

Elsewhere in this issue we look at the shifts in the core capabilities that underpin and to some extent enable cloud computing: the emergence and impact of software-defined networking, and computational heterogeneity in the cloud.

We hope you enjoy issue #2 of BCN!


Cisco to open Internet of Things innovation centre in Australia

Cisco will open an Internet of Things innovation centre in Australia this year

Cisco will open an Internet of Things innovation centre in Australia this year

Networking giant Cisco plans to open an Internet of Everything Innovation Centre in Australia this year, which the company said will house experts in the Internet of Things and help catalyse IoT innovation in the region.

The $15m centre, one of eight planned globally (Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Songdo, Berlin, Barcelona, Tokyo and London) will include locations in Sydney at Sirca and in Perth at Curtin University. Perth-based energy firm Woodside Energy will also contribute resources to the centre.

The centres include dedicated space to demonstrate Internet of Things platforms, and are being pitched as areas where customers, startups and researchers can come together to prototype and test out their ideas.

“Australia is a sophisticated market with a high level of innovation and an early adopter of new technology. Australia is already highly regarded globally for its resources and agriculture sectors and is well-placed to serve the rapidly growing Asian markets, and the Australian government has prioritised these sectors accordingly,” said Irving Tan, senior vice president Asia Pacific and Japan at Cisco.

“The aim now with Cisco IoE Innovation Centre, Australia and its ecosystem of partners is to accelerate innovation and the adoption of the IoE in Australia,” Tan said.

The announcement comes the same week Cisco published a report claiming UK Internet of Things startups could generate more than £100bn over the decade as their offerings catch on in industries like healthcare, retail, transport and energy.

The company also said large firms, SMEs, and government organisations in the UK need to cultivate more joint innovation partnerships if any industry stakeholders are to reap the financial benefits of such a proliferation in internet-connected devices.

UK IoT startups could generate over £100bn in ten years but barriers persist, Cisco claims

UK IoT startups could generate billions of pounds for the economy, but only if stakeholders are willing to incubate and accelerate innovation

UK IoT startups could generate billions of pounds for the economy, but only if stakeholders are willing to incubate and accelerate innovation

A recently published report commissioned by networking specialist Cisco suggests Internet of Things startups could generate over £100bn over the decade as their offerings catch on in industries ripe for IoT-centric transformation (healthcare, retail, transport and energy). But Tom Kneen, head of business development, the British Innovation Gateway (BIG) at Cisco told BCN the industry needs to overcome key barriers in order to enable the market to flourish.

The report, The Internet of Everything: Unlocking the Opportunity for UK Startups, looks at the potential opportunities for IoT startups in four key sectors: healthcare, retail, transport and energy.

It claims the healthcare industry currently has the greatest opportunity, with the potential to access over £48bn over the next decade through IoT innovation. This is followed by the retail industry with £37bn, transport (£11bn) and energy (£7bn).

Cisco has not shied away in past from dropping large numbers to illustrate the potential of a segment in which it has vested interests – the company famously claims there will be around 50 billion IoT devices by 2020.

But it said that large firms, SMEs, and government organisations in the UK need to cultivate more joint innovation partnerships if any industry stakeholders are to reap the financial benefits of such a proliferation in internet-connected devices.

“UK companies of every size are devoting time and ingenuity to designing and building IoE applications, from the smallest SMEs to the largest enterprises. These companies are not just digitising in the conventional sense but finding completely new ways to connect people, processes, data and things, from their supply chains to their office spaces and their customers,” said Phil Smith, chief executive, Cisco UK and Ireland.

“The UK’s startup community is a great source of innovation, and we’re confident that we’re only witnessing the first wave. In the coming months and years, we can expect these businesses to be at the forefront of the transformation of the UK economy as we fully embrace the possibilities of a digital future,” Smith said.

Cisco’s Tom Kneen told BCN there are still a number of barriers preventing the IoT market from really kicking off – and that access to technology isn’t one of them.

“The hardest part for today’s tech savvy entrepreneurs when developing an IoE startup is not writing the code or building the infrastructure, but being allowed to play at all,” he said. “But while many traditional tech start-ups can build entire businesses using little more than free developer tools and rented server space, most IoT start-ups typically need much broader business-focused skillsets. Particularly when you factor in aspects like dealing with regulatory and standards bodies, which are more prevalent in some industries than others.”

“In addition, a typical customer for an IoT startup may not be your single app-focused consumer, but a large enterprise or government department. Even finding the right person to talk to, or the appropriate level to engage at can be a challenge in such large organisations – let alone talking the same language.”

Kneen said to succeed in the IoT space companies need both hardware and software-based skills, but that the UK has a number of areas cultivating these simultaneously – “such as Cambridge and the Midlands, where the development of low-cost, low-power processors to pioneering connected car technology are in full swing.”

Microsoft reveals Office 2016, Skype for Business, Azure IoT services

Microsoft chief exec Satya Nadella previewed a number of new services at Convergence this week

Microsoft chief exec Satya Nadella previewed a number of new services at Convergence this week

Microsoft revealed a slew of new cloud offerings and updates to its productivity offerings at the company’s annual Convergence conference this week, including a developer and enterprise preview of Office 2016, a re-branded Microsoft Lync (Skype for Business), and an Azure-based suite of Internet of Things services.

The company was keen to show off Office 2016, which will be available later this year and ship with a few new services – notably Office Delve, which uses machine learning algorithms to surface corporate Office 265 documents and files that are relevant to specific users in a cloud-based collaboration environment.

“You know how Facebook has a newsfeed? Think of this as your work newsfeed,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “It’s about enabling anyone in the organisation to find useful information without having corporate hierarchies get in the way.”

Microsoft also announced the general availability of PowerBI, it’s analytics and dashboarding platform, which will come with new connectors for Google Analytics, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Zuora, Acumatica and Twilio – with connections for other analytics platforms coming in the near future.

Microsoft Lync, the company’s enterprise collaboration and communications platform, has been re-branded to Skype for Business and been given a noticeable facelift.

The company also unified its Azure-based analytics and machine learning offerings into what Microsoft is calling the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite. The suite combines Azure Stream Analytics and Azure ML (machine learning) and is being aimed at developers creating real-time data services.

“Devices will come and go. But the most interesting thing is the data being collected,” Nadella said, adding that the rapid increase in the volume and velocity of data requires better and more unified tools for developers.

“We’re going to have something like 26 billion internet-connected devices and 44 zettabytes of data in the cloud by 2019,” Nadella said. “How do we make sure that the ability to have access to that data, the ability to act on the insight – those small patterns that, we as humans, recognise in data? The real power comes from our ability to act on those insights.”

Cloud Computing in 2020: Looking into that Crystal Ball

Cloud Computing in 2020Recently, @thedodgeretort of Enterprise CIO Forum held a Twitter chat about what cloud computing in 2020 will look like. I decided to write up a quick blog sharing my thoughts on the topic. Looking into the crystal ball, I see a few things happening with cloud by 2020 — call it 5 years out. First, cloud will transform into more of a utility and a grid of computing power. Second, we’ll see a much deeper manifestation of the core characteristics of cloud computing, especially with regard to flexible capacity, consistent access, and high portability. Third, I anticipate a lot of activity in machine-to-machine transactions and communications (call it IoT if you like). Fourth: superesilient applications. Fifth: compute traded as a commodity. And finally, within 5 years, I think IT and the overall business will come together to actually take advantage of these technologies. Read on for more detail.

Cloud Computing in 2020


1. A utility and computing grid

In 5 years, large companies will still hang on to their datacenters to run some services. However, with security more robust, I think that corporations will make available their own computing resources as much as they consume cloud resources – just like some households generate their own electricity and sell it back to the grid. I think Cisco’s Intercloud concept has an angle on this.

2. Flexible capacity, consistent access, and high portability

A cloud/compute socket just like an electrical socket. Standardized applications and connectors that “plug in” to the grid and are removed just as easily. Virtualization has the first stab at this, encapsulating the OS, data, and applications neatly in a VMX and VMDKs. Containers are the next stab. Redhat has an angle on this with their CloudForms PaaS. Raw compute power becomes more and more of a commodity as portability improves; meaning downward pressure on IaaS prices will remain to some degree (see #4).

3. IoT or machine-to-machine communications/transactions

One machine determines that it needs to acquire more compute power to complete its work. It makes a “deal” to go out and acquire that compute power, uses it, and gives it back to the grid. Or, on the flip side, a machine that knows when it can stand idle and rent its own power. Another angle on this, a virtual machine or application has knowledge of its SLA, and moves to the provider who can deliver on that SLA at the least cost. Love it or hate it, Apple’s Siri has an early angle on this. From what I’ve read about the technology, queries to Siri find their way back to Apple datacenters, not only to obtain answers, but to improve the accuracy of queries for all Siri users.

4. Superesilient applications

As prices for cloud trend downward and portability improves (see #2 and #5), disaster recovery will take a new shape. Instead of running on a 2-site/2-region DR architecture, applications will run on a 5, 10, 20, or 30-site “DR” architecture, with all nodes being active. Does it matter where your application is running at that point? Potentially, it’s running all over the east coast, or all over the country. Some services from AWS already have an angle on this with services that are redundant across regions (a.g., S3, elastic load balancing, etc.), not to mention things like DNS on the Internet. I think it will become cost-effective to do this, in general, within 5 years.

5. Compute traded as a commodity, just like crude oil

This might be a stretch in 5 years, but with the trend of IaaS being more commoditized and portability improving, we’ll see a day when compute power is traded in a commodities market. In the channel, this is already fairly common – IaaS providers are eager to cut favorable deals with resellers who agree to purchase large chunks of infrastructure upfront, only to resell at a later date.

6. IT and the business coming together

DevOps was the first marriage of two groups that had been previously at odds (oftentimes). Within 5 years, I think maturity in IT will improve to the point that they become as focused on the business as any other traditional LOB. IT becomes an Innovation Center — they are focused on the business, and behave proactively. Corporate IT shifts its focus from requirements to possibilities. See my previous posts on the emerging idea of a cloud architect who will be important in this shift.


To sum up… we’re just at the beginning of possibilities in cloud computing.


To hear more from John, you can download his eBook, “The Evolution of the Corporate IT Department

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