IBM Invests $3B to Accelerate Internet of Things (IoT) – Joins Other IT and Cloud Providers

There is no question Internet of Things (IoT) is heating up and major IT players are increasing attention and investment in this area. The latest to join Cisco, Oracle and others is IBM which recently announced that it will invest $3 billion over the next four years to establish a new IoT unit, and that it is building a cloud-based open platform designed to help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions.

IBM-Smarter-PlanetOver the past several years, IBM has focused on Smarter Planet and Smarter Cities initiatives which were based on practical applications of IoT in the enterprise and led to a broad set of solutions, ranging from water management to optimizing retail and customer loyalty to alleviating traffic congestion. IBM wants to take the learning from these initiatives and combine with new industry-specific cloud data services and developer tools to help clients and partners integrate data from large number of IoT and traditional sources. IBM believes in making these resources available on an open platform to provide manufacturers with the ability to design and produce a new generation of connected devices that are better optimized for the IoT and to help business leaders across industries create systems that better fuse enterprise and IoT data to inform decision-making.

IBM IoT Offerings

The new unit will be led by Pat Toole as General Manager and will offer IoT Cloud Open Platform with new analytics services that clients, partners and IBM will use to IoTcloudIBMdesign and deliver vertical industry IoT solutions. IBM Bluemix IoT Zone will enable developers to easily integrate IoT data into cloud-based development and deployment of IoT apps. VCloudNews recently covered BlueMix Platform as a Service (PaaS) as being critical for IBM’s cloud strategy.  Developers will be able to enrich existing business applications – such as enterprise asset management, facilities management, and software engineering design tools – by infusing more real-time data and embedded analytics to further automate and optimize mission-critical IoT processes. Additionally, IBM will develop a robust IoT Ecosystem with partners from silicon and device manufacturers to industry-oriented solution providers. Some of the partners mentioned in IBM’s press release are AT&T, ARM, Semtech and The Weather Company whose forecasting system ingests and processes data from thousands of sources, resulting in approximately 2.2 billion unique forecast points worldwide, and averages more than 10 billion forecasts a day on active weather days.

Cloud Players Moving Fast

Almost all major cloud providers are rushing to get a slice of the IoT market.

2Lstack_horizontal_v2Amazon recently acquired 2lemetry in a move to integrate its cloud services with 2lemetry IoT platform which is protocol and hardware agnostic and  works seamlessly with amazon.com_web_servicesany system including legacy systems. 2lemetry positions its core technology as an IoT version of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) middleware solutions, providing device connectivity at scale, cross-communication, data brokering and storage. This platform integrated with Amazon’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and PaaS cloud services could enable it to provide complete IoT services for enterprises and developers.

The story is similar for Microsoft.  At Convergence 2015, Microsoft’s annual conference for its business customers, Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft azureoutlined the importance of data, insight and Microsoft’s focus on IoT. The company announced Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, an integrated offering that takes advantage of Azure IaaS and PaaS capabilities, simplified billing and easy provisioning to help businesses connect, manage and analyze connected things. The new offering which is scheduled for preview later in 2015 can provide businesses with finished applications targeting common IoT use cases such as remote monitoring, asset management and predictive maintenance.

There are other IT players moving into IoT – Oracle has an IoT group, middleware, applications and PaaS offerings. SAP has been positioning SAP HANA as a driver oraclelogosaplogoCisco_logofor IoT. Cisco has arguably been the most prominent promoter of IoT over the last several years with focus on networking products for IoT and has also organized numerous IoT events.

It will be interesting to see how these companies will differentiate with new IoT technologies and services.

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