- “Cloud” means all things to all people, but for M2M, and especially for its larger cousin, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud services are taking on an increasingly important role.
- Clouds will be necessary to store and analyze machine data, to allow connected devices to talk to each other and share data, and to be easily updated and managed. This larger view of the IoT, rather than the stodgier and more limited M2M market, is key to the vision leading to the 20- 50 billion (some say trillions) of connected devices in many IoT forecasts.
A lot of M2M vendors and enterprises are starting to forego the use of the word M2M and are replacing it with IoT, implying a much bigger set of “things” that will all be connected to the Internet (and to each other) using every available fixed and wireless access technology. To get to this larger market, cloud services are critical, because a secure, reliable infrastructure is necessary to manage the connection and interconnection of all of these things, as well as their ability to be updated and managed and their ability to communicate with each other and with humans who need to interact with them or want to use their data.
Several cloud vendors are emerging as IoT enablers and are showing up at trade shows, partnering with M2M application platform and device vendors. Cumulosity sees the future as encompassing billions of sensors collecting reams of real-time data, including devices not only from enterprises (which is the norm today) but also SMBs and consumers, and allowing for “big data” monetization throughout the ecosystem. To get to this future, SaaS solutions, coupled with cloud computing, are the underpinnings, and the system must be open, intuitive and easy to use, with new business models where consumers can use the IoT for free, while enterprises trial solutions before committing. The open system includes a device cloud for storage and device management as a service, and an application cloud, for monitoring, control, analysis and data management.
In another IoT vision, Xively, a division of remote control pioneer LogMeIn, offers an open Platform as a Service that provides real-time messaging, directory services and data services, including a times-series database and analytics, accessible through a standards-based API that supports dozens of languages. It also includes a “frictionless” developer experience to simplify complex technologies through a Developer Workbench and Developer Center, libraries that support hundreds of platforms, millions of gateways and billions of devices, and highly scalable provisioning and management capabilities. Granular and secure sharing are combined with directory services to allow selective sharing of device data and control. This enables the Xively Connected Object Cloud, which allows selective interconnection of a business’ devices with third-party devices, into an “exponentially” capable solution and experience.
Once we get into this future phase where “everything” is connected, the current generation of enterprise-driven M2M connections and service offerings may look narrow and primitive. The ecosystem is also destined for some big changes in the 2015-2020 period when these disruptive models are supposed to take hold.