Category Archives: IoT

What did we learn at Cloud & DevOps World?

Cloud & DevOps WorldThe newly branded Cloud & DevOps World kicked off yesterday with one theme prominent throughout the various theatres; cloud is no longer a disruption, but what can be achieved through the cloud is still puzzling decision makers, reports Telecoms.com.

One word which was heard more than any other was maturity, as there would appear to be a general consensus that cloud computing had matured as a concept, process and business model. Although finding the greatest value from the cloud is still a challenge, there is a general feeling those in the IT world are becoming more adventurous and more willing to experiment.

Speaking in the Business Transformation theatre, Hotels.com CIO Thierry Bedos opened up the conference with a look into future trends in cloud computing. Maturity was the main driver of the talk here, as Bedos pointed out AWS’ dominant position as market leader and innovator is starting to loosen. While it would generally be considered strange to call tech giants such as Google and Microsoft challenger brands, it would be fair in the context of public cloud. But not for much longer, as the gap is slimming. For Bedos, this competition is a clear indication of a maturing market.

Along Bedos, Oracle’s Neil Sholay gave us insight into the world of data analytics, machine learning and AI in the Oracle Labs. Bill Gates famously said “Content is King”, and while this remains true, Sholay believes we can now go further and live by the rule “Corpus is King”. Content is still of value, though the technologies and business practise to deliver content have dated the phrase. The value of content is now in mastering its delivery through effective analytics to ensure automation, context and insight. A content campaign is only as good as the information you feed it to provide value to the consumer.

The Cyber & Cloud Security theatre held a slightly different story, but maturity was still a strong theme. ETSI & GSMA Security Working Group Chairperson Charles Brookson commented to us while there is still a lot of work to do to ensure security, the decision makers are maturing in the sense they have accepted 100% secure is unachievable and remaining as secure as possible for as long as possible is the new objective.

For a number of the delegates and speakers this is a new mind-set which has been embraced, however there are still some technical drawbacks. Futuristic advances such as biometric security is set to become a possibility in the near future, but Birmingham University’s David Deighton showed the team had made solid progress in the area. Failure rates are still at 2%, which was generally received as too high, but this has been reduced from 15% in a matter of months. The team would appear to be heading in the right direction, at a healthy pace.

Once again the concept of failure was addressed in the IoT & Data Analytics theatre as conference Chairperson Emil Berthelsen (Machine Research) told us the important lesson from the day was to set the right expectations. Some project will succeed and some will not, but there is no such thing as failure. The concept of IoT is now beginning to gain traction in the enterprise world, starting to show (once again) maturity, but for Berthelsen, the importance of scalability, security and data in IoT solutions was most evident throughout the day.

Day 1 showed us one thing above all else; we’re making progress, but we’re not quite there yet.

Connected home will be operated by Apple and Google

Research from Gartner has claimed 25% households in developed economies will utilise the services of digital assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant, on smartphones as the primary means to interact with the connected home.

The user experience is an area which has been prioritized by numerous tech giants, including those in the consumer world, as the process of normalizing the connected world moves forward. Although IoT as a concept has been generally accepted by industry, efforts to take the technology into the wider consumer ecosystem are underway.

Connecting all IoT applications under a digital assistant could be a means to remove the complexity of managing the connected home, playing on the consumer drive for simplicity and efficiency. The digital assistant also presents an entry point for artificial intelligence, as appliances and systems in the home can be optimized alongside information available over the internet. Energy consumption, for example, could potentially be reduced as the digital assistant optimizes a thermostats levels dependent on current weather conditions.

“In the not-too-distant future, users will no longer have to contend with multiple apps; instead, they will literally talk to digital personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant,” said Mark O’Neill, Research Director at Gartner. “Some of these personal assistants are cloud-based and already beginning to leverage smart machine technology.”

The process of normalizing IoT in the consumer world will ultimately create a number of new opportunities for the tech giants, as the technology could offer a gateway into the home for a number of other verticals. Banks and insurance companies for example, could offer advice to customers on how they could save money on bills, should they have access to the data which is generated in the connected home.

“APIs are the key to interoperating with new digital interfaces and a well-managed API program is a key success factor for organizations that are interested in reaching consumers in their connected homes,” said O’Neill. “In the emerging programmable home, it is no longer best to spend time and money on developing individual apps. Instead, divert resources to APIs, which are the way to embrace the postapp world.”

Samsung acquires containers-cloud company Joyent

Money Tree, Currency, Growth.Samsung has agreed to buy San Francisco based cloud provider Joyent in an effort to diversify its product offering in declining markets, reports Telecoms.com.

Financial for the deal have not been disclosed, however the team stated the acquisition will build Samsung’s capabilities in the mobile and Internet of Things arenas, as well cloud-based software and services markets. The company’s traditional means of differentiating its products have been through increased marketing efforts and effective distribution channels, though the new expertise will add a new string to the bow.

“Samsung evaluated a wide range of potential companies in the public and private cloud infrastructure space with a focus on leading-edge scalable technology and talent,” said Injong Rhee, CTO of the Mobile Communications business at Samsung. “In Joyent, we saw an experienced management team with deep domain expertise and a robust cloud technology validated by some of the largest Fortune 500 customers.”

Joyent itself offers a relatively unique proposition in the cloud market as it runs its platform on containers, as opposed to traditional VM’s which the majority of other cloud platforms run on. The team reckons by using containers efficiency it notably improved, a claim which is generally supported by the industry. A recent poll run on Business Cloud News found 89% of readers found container run cloud platforms more attractive than those on VMs.

While smartphones would now be considered the norm in western societies, the industry has been taking a slight dip in recent months. Using data collected from public announcements and analyst firm Strategy Analytics, estimates showed the number of smartphones shipped in Q1 2016 fell to 334.6 million units from 345 million during the same period in 2015. The slowdown has been attributed to lucrative markets such as China becoming increasingly mature, as well as pessimistic outlook from consumers on the global economy.

As a means to differentiate the brand and tackle a challenging market, Samsung has been looking to software and services offerings, as creating a unique offering from hardware or platform perspective has become next to impossible. In terms of the hardware, the latest release of every smartphone contains pretty much the same features (high-performance camera, lighter than ever before etc.), and for the platform, the majority of the smartphone market operates on Android. Software and services has become the new battle ground for product differentiation.

Last month, the team launched its Artik Cloud Platform, an open data exchange platform designed to connect any data set from any connected device or cloud service. IoT is a market which has been targeted by numerous organizations and is seemingly the focus of a healthy proportion of product announcements. The launch of Artik Cloud puts Samsung in direct competition with the likes of Microsoft Azure and IBM Bluemix, as industry giants jostle for lead position in the IoT race, which has yet to be clarified. The inclusion of Joyent’s technology and engineers will give Samsung extra weight in the developing contest.

The purchase also offers Samsung the opportunity to scale its own scale its own cloud infrastructure. The Samsung team says it’s one of the world’s largest consumers of public cloud data and storage, and the inclusion of Joyent could offer the opportunity to move data in-house to decrease the dependency on third party cloud providers such as AWS.

As part of the agreement, CEO Scott Hammond, CTO Bryan Cantrill, and VP of Product Bill Fine, will join Samsung to work on company-wide initiatives. “We are excited to join the Samsung family,” said Hammond. “Samsung brings us the scale we need to grow our cloud and software business, an anchor tenant for our industry leading Triton container-as-a-service platform and Manta object storage technologies, and a partner for innovation in the emerging and fast growing areas of mobile and IoT, including smart homes and connected cars.”

IBM takes Watson to Asia

The globe close up, Asia pastIBM has opened a new research centre in Singapore as it aims to expand its cognitive computing offering Watson into the Asian markets.

The Watson Centre will be located in IBM’s current office at Marina Bay Financial Centre will help commercialize the cognitive, blockchain and design capabilities through partnering with local organizations and co-creating new business solutions. The company claims the new centre will act as a hub for almost 5,000 IBM cognitive solutions professionals in the Asia Pacific region.

Although countries like Japan and China would be considered more mature in their adoption of cloud and next generation technologies, there are numerous others who are in the early stages of adoption. Countries like India and Indonesia have economies which are demonstrating healthy GDP growth at 7.3% and 4.7% respectively, as well as being the third and fifth most populous countries worldwide. Cloud adoption is beginning to accelerate in countries such as these representing a lucrative opportunity for companies such as IBM.

“Watson and blockchain are two technologies that will rapidly change the way we live and work, and our clients in Asia Pacific are eager to lead the way in envisioning and creating that future,” said Randy Walker, CEO IBM Asia Pacific. “Here they can leverage the latest in customer experience design, use cognitive technology to draw insight from vast quantities of data, and draw on IBM’s huge investments in research and development. In partnership with our clients we are nurturing local talent and building an ecosystem to accelerate the development of cognitive solutions and blockchain platforms.”

It would appear the IBM team will be focusing on the financial services, healthcare and tourism industries in the first instance, and the team already have a number of wins in place including Parkway Pantai, DBS Bank and ZUMATA Technologies. The Asian markets have seemingly been a target for Big Blue, and is one of the areas the company has been seeing positive results in recent months. Despite reporting its 16th consecutive quarterly revenue decline in April, the Asian markets were one of the few areas the team saw growth.

Watson has seemingly been the focal point of the company’s efforts to redefine their market position, as the team aim to position itself firmly in the cloud space. Last month the team announced it would teach Watson Korean in an effort to increase the usage and adoption of cloud computing within the region, and acquisitions over recent months have been geared more towards the IoT business unit.

“So where are we in the transformation?” said Martin Schroeter, CFO at IBM during the quarterly earnings call. “It is continued focus on shifting our investments into those strategic imperatives, it is making sure that the space we’re moving to is higher margin and higher profit opportunity for us and then making sure we’re investing aggressively to keep those businesses growing.”

HPE give IoT portfolio an edgy feel

Oil and gas platform in the gulf or the sea, The world energy, OHPE has unveiled new capabilities and partnerships to bring real-time data analytics and IoT insight to the network edge, reports Telecoms.com.

The team claims its new offerings, Edgeline EL1000 and Edgeline EL4000, are the first converged systems for the Internet of Things, capable of integrating data capture, analysis and storage at the source of collection. Transport and storage of data for analytics are becoming prohibitively expensive, the company claims, so the new products offer decision making insight at the network edge to reduce costs and complexities.

HPE claims the new offerings are capable of delivering heavy-duty data analytics and insights, graphically intense data visualization, and real-time response at the edge. Until recently, the technology to drive edge analytics has not been available, meaning data has had to be transferred to the network core to acquire insight. The team have also announced the launch of Vertica Analytics Platform which offers in-database machine learning algorithms and closed-loop analytics at the network edge.

“Organizations that take advantage of the vast amount of data and run deep analytics at the edge can become digital disrupters within their industries,” said Mark Potter, CTO of the Enterprise Group at HPE. “HPE has built machine learning and real time analytics into its IoT platforms, and provides services that help customers understand how data can best be leveraged, enabling them to optimize maintenance management, improve operations efficiency and ultimately, drive significant cost savings.”

The news follows an announcement from IBM and Cisco last week which also focused on IoT at the edge. Alongside the product launches from HPE, the team also announced a partnership with GE Digital to create more relevant propositions for industry. The partnership focuses on combining HPE technical know-how with GE’s industrial expertise and its Predix platform to create IoT-optimized hardware and software. GE’s Predix platform will be a preferred software solution for HPE’s industrial-related use cases and customers.

While the promise of IoT given the industry plenty to get excited about in recent years, the full potential has been difficult to realize due to the vast amount of data which needs to be transported to the network core to process and drive insight from. Although it would seem logical to process the data at the source of collection, technical capabilities have not been at the point where this has been possible. Recent advances from the IBM/Cisco and HPE/GE partnerships are removing the need to transfer information, and also the risk of bottleneck situations, points of failure and storage expenses from the IoT process.

“In order to fully take advantage of the Industrial IoT, customers need data-centre-grade computing power, both at the edge – where the action is – and in the cloud,” said Potter. “With our advanced technologies, customers are able to access data centre-level compute at every point in the Industrial IoT, delivering insight and control when and where needed.”

Applications for the edge-analytics proposition could be quite wide, ranging from production lines in Eastern Europe to oil rigs in the North Sea to smart energy grids in Copenhagen. It would appear the team are not only targeting industrial segments, where IoT could ensure faster and more accurate decision making in the manufacturing process for instance, but also those assets which do not have reliable or consistent connectivity.

44% of consumers have issues with wearables functionality

Iot isometric flowchart design bannerFindings from Ericsson ConsumerLab claim consumer enthusiasm for wearables technology is still growing but vendors are not meeting price or functionality expectations, reports Telecoms.com.

The research focused on opinions from 5,000 smartphone users from Brazil, China, South Korea, the UK and the US, though it’s worth noting 50% of respondents were current owners of wearables technology, a much higher proportion of the general public. While the statistics demonstrated there is still an appetite for wearable technologies outside of fitness applications, price of entry could be a barrier for entry, as well as customer expectations on functionality generally exceeding what vendors are currently able to offer.

32% of respondents said they would be interested or willing to buy a Panic/SOS button, and 25% said the same for an identity authentication device. Smart Watches were still of interest to the industry as 28% said they would have an interest in purchasing such as a device, but this statistic contradicts recent reports the segment has been declining. Strategy Analytics forecasted a 12% decline in Apple watch sales this year after a strong launch. A third of non-users have stated the cost of keeping digital devices connected is a key reason why they haven’t invested in wearable technology to date.

While the SA report could indicate a slight hiccup in the adoption of wearables, this is also backed up to a degree by the Ericsson report which states 10% of wearable users abandoned the technology. This is mainly due to the capabilities which are on offer. A common cause of dissatisfaction is customers feel tethered to their smartphone, as the wearable device does not have standalone features. This could also be tied into the overall value/price proposition of the devices as could be seen as a product of convenience as opposed to a smartphone replacement.

In terms of the reasoning for abandoning wearables, over half of respondents said the devices did not meet expectations. 21% highlighted limited functionality and uses, 23% stated the fact the device was not standalone or didn’t have inbuilt connectivity was the reason, where as 9% said inaccurate data and information. Despite the concerns over functionality, 83% of respondents said they expect wearables to have some form of standalone connectivity in the near future. Should this be the case, 43% believe wearables will ultimately replace smartphones.

“Although consumers show greatest interest in devices related to safety, we also see openness to wearable technology further away from today’s generation,” said Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Consumer Insight Expert, Ericsson ConsumerLab. “In five years’ time, walking around with an ingestible sensor, which tracks your body temperature and adjusts the thermostat setting automatically once you arrive home, may be a reality.” Other use cases included a smart water purifier, gesture communicator, virtual reality sports attire, emotion sensing tattoos and a wearable camera.

The survey does demonstrate long-term viability for wearable technology, though there would have to be increased functionality before it could be considered mainstream. It would appear standalone connectivity would be the bare minimum required, as the currently offering seemingly does not offer the value to customers should they have to continue to carry a smartphone as well as the wearable device.

IBM and Cisco combine to deliver IoT insight on the network edge

Oil and gas platform in the gulf or the sea, The world energy, OIBM and Cisco have extended a long-standing partnership to enable real-time IoT analytics and insight at the point of data collection.

The partnership will focus on combining the cognitive computing capabilities of IBM’s Watson with Cisco’s analytics competencies to support data action and insight at the point of collection. The team are targeting companies who operate in remote environments or on the network edge, for example oil rigs, where time is of the essence but access to the network can be limited or disruptive.

The long promise of IoT has been to increase the amount of data organizations can collect, which once analysed can be used to gain a greater understanding of a customer, environment or asset. Cloud computing offers organizations an opportunity to realize the potential of real-time insight, but for those with remote assets where access to high bandwidth connectivity is not a given, the promise has always been out of reach.

“The way we experience and interact with the physical world is being transformed by the power of cloud computing and the Internet of Things,” said Harriet Green, GM for IBM Watson IoT Commerce & Education. “For an oil rig in a remote location or a factory where critical decisions have to be taken immediately, uploading all data to the cloud is not always the best option.

“By coming together, IBM and Cisco are taking these powerful IoT technologies the last mile, extending Watson IoT from the cloud to the edge of computer networks, helping to make these strong analytics capabilities available virtually everywhere, always.”

IoT insight at the point of collection has been an area of interest to enterprise for a number of reasons. Firstly, by decreasing the quantity of data which has to be moved transmission costs and latency are reduced and the quality of service is improved. Secondly, the bottleneck of traffic at the network core can potentially be removed, reducing the likelihood of failure. And finally, the ability to virtualize on the network edge can extend the scalability of an organization.

ABI Research has estimated 90% of data which is collected through IoT connected devices are stored or processed locally, making it inaccessible for real-time analytics, therefore it must be transferred to another location for analysis. As the number of these devices increases, the quantity of data which must be transferred to another location, stored and analysed also increases. The cost of data transmission and storage could soon prohibit some organizations from achieving the goal of IoT. The new team are hoping the combination of Cisco’s edge analytics capabilities and the Watson cognitive solutions will enable real-time analysis at the scene, thus removing a number of the challenges faced.

“Together, Cisco and IBM are positioned to help organizations make real-time informed decisions based on business-critical data that was often previously undetected and overlooked,” said Mala Anand, SVP of the Cisco Data & Analytics Platforms Group. “With the vast amount of data being created at the edge of the network, using existing Cisco infrastructure to perform streaming analytics is the perfect way to cost-effectively obtain real-time insights. Our powerful technology provides customers with the flexibility to combine this edge processing with the cognitive computing power of the IBM Watson IoT Platform.”

Intel continues to innovate through Itseez acquisition

IntelIntel has continued its strides into the IoT market through the acquisition of Itseez, a computer vision and machine learning company.

Itseez, which was founded by two former Intel employees, specializes in computer vision algorithms and implementations, which can be used for a number of different applications, including autonomous driving, digital security and surveillance, and industrial inspection. The Itseez inclusion bolsters Intel’s capabilities to develop technology which electronically perceive and understand images.

“As the Internet of Things evolves, we see three distinct phases emerging,” said Doug Davis, GM for the Internet of Things Group at Intel. “The first is to make everyday objects smart – this is well underway with everything from smart toothbrushes to smart car seats now available. The second is to connect the unconnected, with new devices connecting to the cloud and enabling new revenue, services and savings. New devices like cars and watches are being designed with connectivity and intelligence built into the device.

“The third is just emerging when devices will require constant connectivity and will need the intelligence to make real-time decisions based on their surroundings. This is the ‘autonomous era’, and machine learning and computer vision will become critical for all kinds of machines – cars among them.”

The acquisition bolsters Intel’s capabilities in the potentially lucrative IoT segment, as the company continues its efforts to diversify its reach and enter into new growth markets. Last month, CEO Brian Krzanich outlined the organizations new strategy which is split into five sections; cloud technology, IoT, memory and programmable solutions, 5G and developing new technologies under the concept of Moore’s law. Efforts have focused around changing the perception of Intel from a PCs and mobile devices brand, to one which is built on a foundation of emerging technologies.

Intel’s move would appear to have made the decision of innovation through acquisition is a safer bet than organic, in-house innovation. There have been a small number of examples of organic diversification; Apple’s iPhone is one example, though the safer bet to move away from core competence is through acquisition.

Intel has dipped its toe into organic diversification, as it attempted to develop a portfolio of chips for mobile devices, though this would generally not be considered a successful venture, similar to Google’s continued efforts to organically grow into social, which could be seen as stuttering. On the contrary, Google’s advertising revenues now account for $67.39 billion (2015), with its platform being built almost entirely on acquisitions. The AdSense and Adwords services have been built and bolstered through various purchases including Applied Semantics ($102 million in 2003), dMarc Broadcasting ($102 million in 2006), DoubleClick ($3.1 billion in 2007), AdMob ($750 million in 2009) and Admeld ($400 million in 2011).

While diversification through acquisition can be seen as the safer, more practical and efficient means to move into new markets, it is by no means a guaranteed strategy. Intel’s strategy could be seen as a sensible option as there are far more examples off successful diversification through acquisition compared to organic growth. The jury is still out on Intel’s position in the IoT market but there are backing the tried and tested route to diversification.

Capgemini and Siemens team up to make buildings smarter

Iot isometric flowchart design bannerCapgemini and Siemens’ Building Technologies division have announced a new partnership to develop analytics-based services for the smart buildings space.

The new team will focus on developing the Siemens Navigator platform to produce an enhanced IoT management platform featuring asset management and analytics technology. The objective of the technology will be to increase energy efficiencies of the buildings, as well as the lifecycle potential of their customers’ real estate assets.

Siemens claims customers using their platform currently save 10.5 million tons of CO2 per year, though by incorporating Capgemini’s IoT, data analytics, and cloud capabilities, the ambition is to extend and drive this digital transformation project, in a phased approach.

The smart building industry has been gathering momentum in the last few months, though hasn’t been grabbing the same headlines as autonomous cars or the overarching smart cities projects. One estimate puts market value as high as $36 billion in 2020, highlighting that buildings can consume anywhere between 20-40% of the total energy intake of a country, creating a lucrative market for potential IoT vendors. While energy efficiency is one of the more obvious drivers for smart buildings initiatives, safety and security factors have also enhanced the growth of this market.

“The Internet of Things is a massive accelerator for digital transformation,” said Capgemini’s Olivier Sevillia. “Building a consistent strategy and providing an innovative platform for IoT services is an asset that companies can leverage for the benefit of their clients.

“This cloud based data driven services project will make the widespread benefits of connected buildings a reality for Siemens Building Technologies’ real estate customers, helping them to make more informed business decisions and realise operating efficiencies. Capgemini will support this roll-out from strategy development through to implementation and integration.”

Cisco reports 3% growth for Q3 and sets targets on IoT market

Cisco corporateCisco has reported 3% year-on-year growth for Q3, topping $12 billion for the quarter, with its security business leading the charge, though the team have reconfirmed IOT, software cloud and collaboration markets are priorities for the future.

The security portfolio demonstrated revenue growth of 17% while deferred revenue grew 31% driven by the ongoing shift from hardware to more software and subscription services. The Collaboration portfolio grew 16%, while the team were also confident in the performance of its next generation data centre portfolio. The ACI platform grew revenues approximately 100%, exceeding a $2 billion annualized run-rate.

“We delivered strong Q3 results against the backdrop of the Macro environment that continues to be uncertain,” said CEO Charles Robbins. “Despite this uncertainty we executed very well, with revenue growth of 3%. The operational changes we continued to make will further enable our customers to leverage strategic role to network as they transform their businesses to become digital.”

Regionally, the America’s accounted for a 4% lift, whereas EMEA and APJ were slightly less at 2% and 1% respectively. The emerging markets demonstrated healthy results for the business, as BRICs increased by 4%, Mexico by 4%, China up 22% and India up 18%. The team highlighted while there was good growth in the public and service provider segments, the enterprise was not as positive as the team pointed towards pressure driven by macro uncertainty as the reasoning.

The quarter also saw Cisco as one of the more active players in the M&A market, completing five acquisitions over the course of the quarter. The $1.4 billion acquisition of Jasper Technologies now makes Cisco the largest cloud based IOT service platform in the industry, the team claims. Cisco also completed the acquisitions of Acano, Synata, Leaba and CliQr during the period, the latter a $260 million orchestration platform to help customers simplify and accelerate their private, public and hybrid cloud deployment. Cisco had already integrated CliQr with its Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Unified Computing systems (UCS) prior to acquisition.

“These acquisitions are clearly focused on our key growth areas including IOT, software cloud and collaboration as well as continuing to strengthen our core,” said Robbins.

The IoT market has been a long time target of Cisco, with the Jasper deal adding to the ParStream acquisition last year. The acquisition offered the opportunity for instant analysis of masses of data at the network edge with minimal infrastructural or OPEX repercussions, the company claimed.