It’s all very well instrumenting your field devices up to the max so you’re overrun with data that describes every way your physical things are being used (and the environment they’re being used in). But what if there’s just too much data, too far away from your compute, on too slow a connection, to be able to bring it all back to base before applying the analytics you need to generate the actionable insight you crave (within the timeframe you have to act).
Enter edge analytics for IoT, which take place way beyond your organisational boundary – right where the ‘experience’ is happening. The principle here is a simple one: analyse all the data you have, at source; so you can generate insights quickly, and only send back to base the data you need in order to act.
IBM and Cisco recently announced a partnership to push analytics capabilities down into endpoint devices, readily integrated to ‘smarten the sensors’. It’s part of a wider programme of IoT initiatives from IBM that’s seeing Big Blue deploy analytics in the cloud, at the gateway, and on the device. And these days, with IBM, that means ‘cognitive’. Which means Watson… and so now we have the Watson IoT Platform, sitting atop the IBM Cloud Platform, to bring things together under one roof (literally, with the opening of IBM’s Watson IoT Global HQ in Munich late last year).
With Watson in the cloud, IBM is applying cognitive APIs to IoT problems – and through its platform approach is making it easier for customers to combine IoT data with other sources (e.g. environmental data at device location – courtesy of recent acquisition The Weather Channel, transactional data from other IBM repositories, etc.).
However, as comprehensive as this is, it’s still predicated upon a centralised cloud model (albeit one with ‘fog computing’ at its edge). IBM’s also betting on a future where open access IoT networks act in a distributed cloud environment, with Blockchain services helping devices operate autonomously.
Vendors like IBM with vast resources and interests at play are bringing them all to bear on the IoT market, innovating and consolidating quickly to establish differentiated offerings by both riding and redefining a fast evolving market. It’s in the cloud, it’s in the fog, it’s at the edge, it’s tracked by blockchain ledgers…
But beyond the killer lines in buzzword bingo (“Cognitive IoT with Blockchains”, anyone?) what does any of this mean to you, and what you need solutions for now? We’re running a short survey on operational IoT in action, and we’d love to hear what you’re up to!