This week there were several interesting developments related to M2M and cloud services. The first was the announcement of an agreement between IBM and AT&T that effectively provides a comprehensive connectivity and cloud services package. Why is this deal significant? The primary answer is security. If there is one main barrier to M2M adoption, it is the concept of moving sensitive data through the internet. The other related barrier is about exposing a machine or thing to outside access through that same path. One example of security loopholes would be a “man in the middle” access and this is highlighted in the recent US House Intelligence Committee report looking at the entry of Huawei and ZTE into the US market. That report examined the risk that data passing through the Huawei or ZTE equipment could be remotely disrupted by and/or hi-jacked to a 3rd party which, in this case, would be the Chinese military.
In a recent VDC survey on the embedded cloud that examined the use of edge computing to support M2M connectivity, we found that security was cited as challenge to implementation by 25 – 30% of respondents. This was significant when we considered that, in addition to the typical edge processing roles of communication, data aggregation and pre-processing, 49% of IT and End-Users surveyed would include firewall/Virtual Private Networking functions in those units. In other words, you can never have too much security.
M2M connectivity often involves cloud based resources and after the connection from the machine to the edge of the network is solved, you then have to make the connection to the cloud. The IBM & AT&T collaboration will give potential customers a secure private connection to the IBM cloud services. The customers will get an integrated solution without having to deal with two completely separate organizations to complete the implementation. This is of huge value to the M2M market because many of the machines/things being connected are mobile and this places extra layers of wireless connectivity in order to complete the M2M solution.
Speaking of mobile equipment connectivity, this brings us to a second notable announcement from this week. On Tuesday, we saw that Digi International had announced collaboration with Deutsche Telecom to enhance their M2M solution portfolio. As part of this agreement, Digi will be the first to integrate DT industrial grade SIM cards into their connectivity products. This removes many layers of complexity in a mobile M2M project as the complete solutions can likely be installed directly out of the box and automatically connect to the Digi cloud services using the DT cellular network.
So, in summary, we see two very similar partnership announcements that are changing the M2M ecosystem in ways that will accelerate the pace of m2M connectivity. This is precisely one the theme of the VDC FastForward: Insights for Leaders report on Securing Your Place in the Evolving Internet of Things Ecosystem that is due to publish shortly. In 4Q of this year, the Embedded Hardware practice will also be covering the OEM perspective of M2M and the Internet of Things through our Voice of the Customer service.