Entering new battlegrounds of connected devices

There is a new set of battlegrounds brewing around platforms and ecosystems and what and who controls the data and the flows needed to build these thriving environments, reliant on the cloud.

One such battle zone will be on connected devices and who controls and delivers what.

It is not unlike the battleground of the mobile phone device that became famous in an internal note to Nokia employees that I wrote about, back in 2011 “Welcome to the brave new world of innovation ecosystems”.

We are coming to the time that will have similar high stakes of who thrives (and survives) by what they own or control in the looming battles ahead, the one of who and what connects and the way these connections generate, influence and control the connectivity required; to connect the ‘intelligent’ devices to platforms, clouds and all the partners in the ecosystem, seeking insight and understanding to exploit and explore new efficiency and growth opportunities, collecting the new gold called ‘fluid data’.

If you recall the famous memo was by Stephen Elop, then the CEO of Nokia, at the time fighting a losing device war. The quote stays in my mind as it gives us all that stark reality, certainly in today increasingly connected world, as we all try to figure out the constant concern of the ‘how what and where’ disruption will hit us.

To quote Elop at the time in his internal memo: “The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems. In this case, it is where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device but developers, applications, e-commerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyze or join an ecosystem”.

Again Elop: “Ecosystems thrive when they reach scale when they are fueled by energy and innovation and when they provide benefits and value to each person or company who participates”.

Today we are on the cusp of a number of platform and ecosystem battles.

It is the battle of the ‘connection’ within manufacturing and in our mobility world, for example, in our home. car, hospitals, social and manufacturing environments these battles are beginning to be played out. I wanted to come back to ‘fogging’ again.

I wanted to come back to ‘fogging’ again as one of these really important battlegrounds. Fogging (edge intelligence) is becoming one of those where we will see as an increasing new battleground to win. Those devices often called gateways, that control the flow, control the data and determine what does go to the cloud. Cisco is clearly a leading player in this fogging solution race. Let me explain why fogging is so important in our connected world.

So the battleground is moving to gateways, controllers, and middle-ware as the real space to seize as the most valuable ground to own, knowing what and how to manage, scale, update and deliver the software provisioning services that match the domain dependence of what is within the device or machine and what it wants to deliver in its data. Protocols are also partly critical to ensure communications can function well, it is the device and its protocol that will give technology and functional scalability to the edge that generates the data, it fixes and enhances them, it allows the right data to flow back and forth.

The battle is controlling what flows where and this will increasingly come from the Industrial protocols, not just the Intellectual Property that will govern these flows designed to be pushed down to the ‘final’ device or backup to the cloud. The battleground is moving to gateways, controllers, and middle-ware as the real space to seize as the most valuable ground to own, knowing what and how to manage, scale, update and deliver the software provisioning services that match the domain dependence of what is within the device or machine. Protocols give technology and functional scalability to the edge, it fixes and enhances them.

This is where “fogging or edge computing” comes in.

It allows a greater flexibility in the cloud to get closer to the “thing” producing the data to give the potential for a hierarchy of decision making decisions to be made from all the data flowing off the “thing” via a ‘controlling’ node. It controls.

What is Fog Computing?

The term “Fog Computing” was introduced by the Cisco Systems (see extended Cisco blog)  as solutions to ease wireless data transfer to distributed devices over the Internet of Things (IoT) network. Cisco defines Fog Computing as a paradigm that extends Cloud computing and services to the edge of the network. Similar to Cloud, Fog provides data, compute, storage, and application services to end-users.

The distinguishing fog characteristics

The distinguishing Fog characteristics are its proximity to end-users, its support of dense geographical distribution, and its support for mobility., Fog reduces service latency, and improves QoS, supporting emerging Internet of Everything (IoE) applications that demand real-time/predictable latency (industrial automation, transportation, networks of sensors and actuators) with the service hosted at the network edge or even end devices such as set-top-boxes or access points directly connected ‘on top’ of the end device.

Fogging allows for many things to happen.

It can pre-analyze data, send it to the end device, it can help react in real time and can minimize data volumes being sent to the backend (the cloud). It can be the gateway provider of new software services (updates) and acts as a more effective and efficient controller for runtime behavior. It is getting closer to the final device to allow for the speed of data to flow. It can improve scalability, improve the security of encrypted data and reduce exposure to hostile elements.

At a recent #BCW17 conference, hosted by Bosch, who we have discussed in previous posts, have a partnership with CISCO. At this conference the Bosch CEO, Dr. Volkmar Denner, added more insight into the emerging work they are doing on managing these Industrial Protocols where fogging increasingly plays a part. “On a more practical level, the product performance management protocol, or PPMP, is being tried out at the Bosch plant in Homburg, Germany, as part of a joint Industrie 4.0 and IIC testbed”

Bosch itself developed the PPMP, which is available to all at no cost. It allows small and medium-sized enterprises to transmit data from their sensors quickly, simply, and securely to the production systems of large companies. As Dr Denner said: “This helps remove some of the obstacles preventing entry into connected manufacturing. This first practical experience will be used to further refine the new protocol – work which will be done by Eclipse, an open-source community. Once again, we see that openness is our life blood.”

I am just wondering what we all determine by openness?

Openness in a flow of data closed in our necessary choice of the gateway provider. It will be critical on who and what we choose. The gateway device will determine the ability to quickly communicate and can you imagine, you are in a connected car requiring ‘rapid data’ then this finding knowledge, determining the actions you or the car take is judged in milliseconds. The ‘controller’ is absolutely key, those that ‘own’ this, control the flow of you, your car, your mobile, your data and the reactions we all increasingly need of “real-time”and that is far more valuable as a place to be than sitting in the cloud, waiting for ‘interesting’ data.

Wherever you look, there are battles brewing, between platform providers and software solution providers competing to draw in the necessary ecosystem of collaborators to achieve scale but more importantly the ability to control the data source. As we decide where we invest, what platforms or ecosystems to join, we do need to consider the “lock-in” effect or the robustness in the connections that feed the cloud or the final device. The gateway provider becomes key in our connecting world where we are increasingly reliant on the combination od instant, updated and real-time to be immediately available.

It will become crucial to getting this absolutely right for manufacturing that increasingly relies on sending and receiving relevant data as well as the connected car, train or even plane absolutely needing essential data to perform a given, possibly immediate action. Let alone connected health devices, public services or any mobility device. The data we learn offers new value creation and emerging new business opportunities and models.

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