|By Sam Ganga||
|August 12, 2014 02:00 PM EDT||
Science fiction films abound that warn of machines taking control and wreaking havoc on the human race. "2001: A Space Odyssey," "War Games" and "I, Robot" are just a few of the titles that propose what might happen if we hand too much power over to intelligent, interconnected machines.
Decades after the first cautionary tale, the world's machines are more intelligent and more interconnected than even science fiction authors could have predicted. Machine to Machine (M2M) communication and the mobile revolution have led to the phenomenon of Big Data, an influx of structured and unstructured data at volumes and velocities never before heard of. The insightful analysis of all that data is proving to be a blessing to humanity, not the threat that many feared. M2M and Big Data Analytics can help reduce costs and create competitive advantage for a wide variety of businesses.
What Is M2M?
M2M refers to systems and technologies that make it possible for networked devices to exchange information and perform actions on their own, without (or with minimal) human intervention. Gathering sensor data from devices, analyzing it and using it to exercise more intelligent control can drive better outcomes. Everyday examples include:
Smart meters, coupled with predictive analytics, enable utility companies to predict demand patterns, automatically adjust to meet peak demand and avoid over-production when demand is low.
Remote medical sensors can monitor patients, remind them if they've forgotten their medications and alert doctors when intervention might be needed.
Smart buildings have sensors that can analyze environmental data to save energy and improve safety.
Traffic data from networked sensors can be analyzed to predict shifts in traffic patterns. Using this information to control traffic signals can actually prevent traffic jams, not just ease them.
Automated systems like GM's OnStar can alert emergency services when accidents occur, even when the humans involved aren't able to help themselves.
How M2M Came to Be
M2M didn't arrive on the scene overnight; as with anything else, it followed an evolutionary process. Back in the 1980s, Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems were introduced to enhance controls for electricity generation, transmission and distribution, and to improve monitoring and control for traffic and transportation systems. In the '90s, Wireless Sensor Networks were introduced to improve monitoring and control in many manufacturing and industrial systems. Wireless made it easier to monitor and control a broader range of devices but only supported limited, short-range connections.
When data modules were introduced in the mid-1990s and early 2000s that could communicate via cellular networks, a major leap forward occurred. These systems were used first to connect point of sale (POS) terminals, vehicle sensors and other remote monitoring and tracking systems, and then were further extended to automatic meter reading, security, elevator control, fleet management, vending and telemedicine.
M2M communication and applications have really exploded in diversity and number since the introduction of the Internet as a backbone for communication. Three major factors have combined to accelerate the recent growth in M2M:
- More data from more devices can be combined and analyzed more quickly due to advances in tools and technologies for big data analysis and predictive analytics. This enables machine-driven actions based on anticipated conditions - not just faster reaction times.
- The "everywhereness" of broadband networks, wireless and Internet has given rise to the Internet of Things (IoT) and has made it easier and cheaper than ever to connect devices. Assign an IP address to a device with Internet access and you can communicate with it anywhere in the world.
- Cheaper and smaller sensors, memory and processing power mean that more devices can be networked, and the devices themselves can be smarter.
M2M Now and in the Future
Gartner Inc. estimates that there are currently just under 30 billion connected devices and projects $309 billion in additional revenue for product and service suppliers by 2020 due to IoT. They also predict $1.9 trillion in total economic impact from improved productivity and cost savings, among other factors.
As an example of IoT's impact, Gartner turns its attention to data centers. The analyst firm predicts that IoT product and service suppliers will generate revenue exceeding $300 billion, mostly in services, by 2020.
How M2M Is Being Applied
With virtually every industry impacted, M2M's technology solutions applications are startling in their breadth and diversity. Machina Research points to benefits as varied as reduced energy costs, improved safety and security, and increased efficiency and faster response times for emergency services and national defense. Here are some examples:
In terms of how far along companies in key verticals are in implementing M2M initiatives, another recent study by Techpro Research offers some insight. Energy, IT and automotive top the list in current implementations, or plans to implement in the next 12 months, followed by Healthcare, Facility Management, Manufacturing and Retail.
M2M Success in the Marketplace
If businesses do thoughtful planning around how to use M2M to achieve their goals, opportunities to boost revenues, cut costs and more effectively serve customers are tremendous. A few recent examples include:
Retail - Nestlé Nespresso SA has equipped its coffee machines used in restaurants, hotels, offices and luxury retail boutiques to transmit operational and performance data from each machine to a cloud platform for tracking and analysis. The system tracks descaling and other maintenance procedures and alerts technical staff if servicing is required. The applications can also be used to remotely adjust water temperature and pressure. The system helps ensure that machines are maintained in excellent condition, that they produce the highest-quality coffee, cup after cup, and that customers are well supplied with their coffee of choice.
Transportation - The automotive industry and the U.S. Federal Government are embracing M2M. The US Department of Transportation recently conducted research that suggests that Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) technology could prevent the majority of crashes involving two or more vehicles. Sensors can monitor speed and location of nearby vehicles, analyze risks and either warn drivers (near term) or take action on their own (longer term) to avoid accidents. The research could lead to a mandate to use V2V in the future.
Healthcare - Partnering with the University Teaching Hospitals of Grenoble and Toulouse, France Telecom R&D launched a project called "Gluconet" for managing diabetic patients remotely. A special instrument is used to periodically read patient glycemia data. This information gets transmitted automatically to the management center via mobile devices. The doctors can access the information over the Internet. Based on the analysis, doctors send medical advice to patients via SMS or voice messaging. The key advantage here is that both patients and doctors are alerted of any complications well before they become life-threatening.
Consumer - Lexmark, a provider of printing and imaging products, software, solutions and services, deployed M2M for more effective customer servicing. Lexmark uses M2M to collect data from millions of printers. The company analyzes the data to streamline its products to serve customers better, increase revenues and reduce operational costs.
Facilities Management - Commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) deployed an M2M system called IntelliCommand to collect data from building systems for security and protection against heating, cooling or fire incidents. Information collected by remote sensors is transmitted to a cloud-hosted system for in-depth analysis. When sensors collect data that strays outside of established parameters, alarms are relayed to a control center to alert managers. JLL's pilot installation with four sites enabled clients to cut costs by 15-20 percent. The real estate giant is now extending its deployment to 76 buildings.
How to Begin the Process
M2M possibilities for some organizations are self-evident. An equipment manufacturer might see an opportunity to leverage machine data to provide better service and build loyalty. Another might see an opportunity to add value that can be monetized. Some companies might find themselves threatened by competitors who have already started using M2M to gain advantage. But it's not so cut and dried for some businesses. The "M2M Opportunity Matrix" shown here offers some structure that can be used to think about M2M and identify opportunities that can improve business performance.
Listed across the top of the Matrix are possible business objectives. This isn't an exhaustive list, but you could do a lot of good for your business by finding ways to reduce cost, increase revenue or add value.
Options related to data sources are listed down the left side. Your organization might already have a large database of information that's coming in from POS systems or manufacturing control systems or some other source - Data In-Hand. But maybe you haven't figured out what to do with the information yet. There might be additional data that you could be collecting from existing "sensors" - New Data from Existing Sources. Or there might be new data that you could access with new sensors, or by sourcing from outside your company - New Data from New Sources. Probably, the data you already have in hand is going to be the easiest to tap into to achieve business objectives. But some opportunities might be so valuable that it's worth deploying new sensors to gather new data.
There's a potential M2M opportunity at the juncture of each business objective and data source. So, do some brainstorming. Start the process by thinking of how to leverage different data sources to achieve various business objectives. It can go in a lot of directions from there.
Alternatively, an experienced data consultant can help you look objectively at your situation and help you to identify low-hanging fruit or the really game-changing opportunities that could deliver more transformative results. There are a lot of right answers. The best thing is to get started.
Making the Most of M2M
It turns out that, so far at least, all those cautionary tales about intelligent machines have proven untrue. In fact, interconnected machines and the data they generate are improving the ways we live and do business. Smarter systems that don't need to rely on slower human input and that can more quickly adapt as needed are the upshot of M2M. Even now we are seeing incredible innovations like remote glucose monitoring, more efficient printing and safer buildings. And that's only the beginning. At the risk of imitating sci fi writers who were a bit off-base, we hesitate to predict what other life-enhancing technologies powered by M2M are on the horizon.
You, meanwhile, should not hesitate to take part in the M2M revolution. If you wait for someone else to figure out how to best leverage M2M, you are likely to lose market share or lose the opportunity altogether. It may seem overwhelming to know where to start; if that's the case, work with a data consultant who can help create a plan. Don't let the intelligent machines outsmart you.
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
Jul. 1, 2015 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,504
"We have a tagline - "Power in the API Economy." What that means is everything that is built in applications and connected applications is done through APIs," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at Akana, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 1, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 821
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of...
Jul. 1, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,216
"AgilData is the next generation of dbShards. It just adds a whole bunch more functionality to improve the developer experience," noted Dan Lynn, CEO of AgilData, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 1, 2015 04:09 PM EDT Reads: 547
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of pro...
Jul. 1, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,061
"We provide a web application framework for building really sophisticated web applications that run on a browser without any installation need so we get used for biotech, defense, and banking applications," noted Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit (http://DevOpsSummit.SYS-CON.com), held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York
Jul. 1, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,067
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect t...
Jul. 1, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,185
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Jul. 1, 2015 02:21 PM EDT Reads: 600
In the midst of the widespread popularity and adoption of cloud computing, it seems like everything is being offered “as a Service” these days: Infrastructure? Check. Platform? You bet. Software? Absolutely. Toaster? It’s only a matter of time. With service providers positioning vastly differing offerings under a generic “cloud” umbrella, it’s all too easy to get confused about what’s actually being offered. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Kevin Hazard, Director of Digital Content for SoftL...
Jul. 1, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,161
"A lot of the enterprises that have been using our systems for many years are reaching out to the cloud - the public cloud, the private cloud and hybrid," stated Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 1, 2015 12:54 PM EDT Reads: 599
One of the hottest areas in cloud right now is DRaaS and related offerings. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Dale Levesque, Disaster Recovery Product Manager with Windstream's Cloud and Data Center Marketing team, will discuss the benefits of the cloud model, which far outweigh the traditional approach, and how enterprises need to ensure that their needs are properly being met.
Jul. 1, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,052
The time is ripe for high speed resilient software defined storage solutions with unlimited scalability. ISS has been working with the leading open source projects and developed a commercial high performance solution that is able to grow forever without performance limitations. In his session at Cloud Expo, Alex Gorbachev, President of Intelligent Systems Services Inc., shared foundation principles of Ceph architecture, as well as the design to deliver this storage to traditional SAN storage co...
Jul. 1, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,007
"Plutora provides release and testing environment capabilities to the enterprise," explained Dalibor Siroky, Director and Co-founder of Plutora, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,025
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world...
Jul. 1, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,246
SYS-CON Events announced today that JFrog, maker of Artifactory, the popular Binary Repository Manager, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based in California, Israel and France, founded by longtime field-experts, JFrog, creator of Artifactory and Bintray, has provided the market with the first Binary Repository solution and a software distribution social platform.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 979
In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Simone Brunozzi, VP and Chief Technologist of Cloud Services at VMware, reviewed the changes that the cloud computing industry has gone through over the last five years and shared insights into what the next five will bring. He also chronicled the challenges enterprise companies are facing as they move to the public cloud. He delved into the "Hybrid Cloud" space and explained why every CIO should consider ‘hybrid cloud' as part of their future strategy to achi...
Jul. 1, 2015 11:10 AM EDT Reads: 675
"We got started as search consultants. On the services side of the business we have help organizations save time and save money when they hit issues that everyone more or less hits when their data grows," noted Otis Gospodnetić, Founder of Sematext, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 957
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
Jul. 1, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,138
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at th...
Jul. 1, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,948
The most often asked question post-DevOps introduction is: “How do I get started?” There’s plenty of information on why DevOps is valid and important, but many managers still struggle with simple basics for how to initiate a DevOps program in their business. They struggle with issues related to current organizational inertia, the lack of experience on Continuous Integration/Delivery, understanding where DevOps will affect revenue and budget, etc. In their session at DevOps Summit, JP Morgenthal...
Jul. 1, 2015 09:32 AM EDT Reads: 637