For years, vendors have been painting a tantalizing vision of the business and even personal benefits that can be gained by tying together various objects using powerful networking devices.
Whether it was using RFID technology to track products for supply-chain purposes or embedding monitoring devices into healthcare delivery systems to improve patient care, no one could dispute the potential value of these innovations. But few organizations could actually deploy them successfully.
A combination of less than promised functional capabilities and greater than expected technical complexity and costs often have conspired to prevent the promise of “connected devices” from becoming a reality.
Now, a new generation of cloud-based machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions is gaining momentum and beginning to produce a growing number of exciting success stories in a variety of industries.
An example is Axeda's new cloud service, which leverages economical infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) resources to capture and store data from the vendor’s remote device appliances, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to enable users to deploy its application and access the data being collected. The company also has created its own platform-as-a-service (PaaS) to enable users and partners to create their own applications.
A measure of the power of cloud-based M2M is the growing assortment of brand-name companies that are deploying these capabilities, including, in the case of Axeda, Abbott Laboratories, GE, and Varian Medical Systems.
Another indication of the rising appeal of cloud-based M2M is the ecosystem of partners Axeda has attracted, including AT&T, Cisco, Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce.com, which has been the leading advocate of the idea of the “social enterprise,” based on the supposition that people are becoming more connected. Now, Salesforce.com wants to connect its social apps to cloud-based M2M solutions.
Strategic advisory firm Analysys Mason forecasts the number of M2M device connections will grow from 62 million in 2010 to 2.1 billion devices in 2020, at a 36 percent year-on-year growth rate.
The growing potential of the M2M market has also prompted Verizon to announce its intention to acquire Hughes Telematics.
But there are still a number of obstacles to be overcome.
First, there has to be a substantial increase in available bandwidth to accommodate the explosion of big-data being produced by the new endpoints created by M2M solutions.
Second, the deployment and administration of M2M applications has to be simplified. Today’s applications require too much customization and can’t be deployed easily enough yet to become pervasive and mainstream.
Third, there are still too many security concerns about compliance issues or access control problems.
Finally, there aren’t enough skilled M2M engineers among third-party consulting firms and not enough corporate managers within enterprise organizations who can guide the planning, implementation, and administration of M2M deployments.
So, while the technology is evolving rapidly to satisfy the functional requirements for successfully deploying M2M solutions via the cloud, attitudes and skills to capitalize on these capabilities still need to mature.
It seems like the bandwidth issue is going to be the biggie -- and, if anything, people are getting *less* bandwidth now with various throttlings and caps and suchlike. It looks like we're on a collision course between the carriers reducing bandwidth and the devices/users wanting more, and I'm not sure what's going to happen when they meet.
This seems to me to be a significant challenge for cloud computing -- even more so if we envision countless machines trying to talk to each other. It would be great to wipe the legacy slate clean and start again with 100% compatible interfaces, but of course that's not the reality.
"there aren't enough skilled M2M engineers among third-party consulting firms and not enough corporate managers within enterprise organizations who can guide the planning, implementation, and administration of M2M deployments."
This is the second big obstacle. Universities need to hurry up in developing programs to prepare graduates who could take the positions which will guide the planning, implementation, and administration of M2M deployments. Until then, this is going to be a sluggish problem in the enterprise which will be diving into M2M cloud without the real skills needed.
"So, while the technology is evolving rapidly to satisfy the functional requirements for successfully deploying M2M solutions via the cloud, attitudes and skills to capitalize on these capabilities still need to mature."
Precisely. That's what I was thinking while reading your blog. If there are still people trying to figure out if they want to adopt the cloud in their business or not, when are they going to be ready to deploying M2M solutions via the cloud?
People need to develope a new attitude, a faster decision making, and above all lose the fear of the unknown, and adapt to the new technologies at the same pace technology is evolving. If not, what's the point of the new technologies to exist?
Michael, do you mean to tell me that carriers aren't already omnipotent? I mean, the government tried to take AT&T apart, and like a futuristic robotic assassin, it has managed to pull most of its old parts back together to form something both unsettling and vaguely menacing. But the part of Jeff's story that really caught my attention was the notion that widely scattered devices are apparently calling home via these cloudy links. The name that got my attention was Varian Medical Systems, a manufacturer of devices and software used for the treatment of cancer, among other things. Imagine having your privacy systematically stripped away during the difficult and trying process of such daunting medical issues. Considering that most cloud systems weren't exactly designed with security in mind, the exposure can only be described as massive. Just because we can do something, doesn't necessarily mean that we should do it.
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