Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Patrick Hubbard, Elizabeth White, Sven Olav Lund, Liz McMillan, Amitabh Sinha

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@ThingsExpo: Blog Post

Internet of Things Is Not Another Subscription Service | @ThingsExpo [#IoT]

There is a view that with IoT becoming a reality, it’s rather simple

The Internet of Things Is Not Just Another Subscription Service | Part 1

Companies that until recently had never heard of the Internet of things (IoT) are now excited to find that they've been IoT players all along. Businesses involved in home automation, security services, vehicle tracking and health monitoring to name a few have been around for a while. They all provide services that involve devices (now known as "things") that communicate with each other, with their owners, and sometimes with control centers. Increasingly that channel of communication is via the Internet. Therefore, they all see themselves as IoT service providers now, and rightly so. But they are also specialists in the actual services they provide, and the fact that we have an increasingly popular expression to describe the infrastructure they use does not diminish the need for that expertise. While IoT brings additional challenges and opportunities, it doesn't remove the need to retain business methods and strategies that remain appropriate for the specialist area, even in a rapidly changing world.

At the same time, companies that have built and sold business support systems for years - billing, order management and CRM - are kind of excited to find that they are also in the IoT business. Their systems can work even in this new world of IoT, and they are proud to publish the fact, inviting the world to participate in seminars, webinars, etc., highlighting this marvel. These billing vendors are being rather vocal and shouting loudly from the rooftops that the Internet of Things economy is happily meeting the world of subscriptions, so jump on board the bandwagon. We shouldn't be surprised. After all, a billing system that is optimized generically for subscription services can bill for recurring revenue services such as subscriptions in an IoT environment too, provided, of course, that the service provider accepts the premise that IoT is just another subscription service.

An Overly Simplistic View of the Internet of Things
There is a view that with IoT becoming a reality, it's rather simple. Politicians and commentators are fond of telling us that IoT means a new exciting future in which the fridge decides when to order more food. That example has stood the test of time: it has been with us since the closing years of the 20th century. In the movie The 6th Day, released in 2000, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a smart Internet-connected fridge (which might be the most memorable thing about that movie). Internet-connected fridges were sold in 2002, but without much success, and just last week a British politician regurgitated the cliché. Maybe he'd just seen the movie.

Many descriptions of mainstream IoT services tend to emphasize sensors and monitoring, with a degree of autonomous actions (alarms for example) to help people out, but mostly these services feed information into data centers for storage and analysis. This is where concepts such as home automation, energy management, health monitoring, security monitoring and vehicle tracking all started. But already we can see the emergence of smarter and more sophisticated systems, such as those with the ability to identify a need for medication, and trigger an Internet-connected implant to deliver a dose. Systems don't just notice an intruder and raise an alarm, they also can lock paths of exit and attempt facial recognition of intruders. IoT services can track vehicle movements, assess anomalous behavior and call for help when needed. All of this happens in near-real time. It isn't directly controlled by humans, although humans set the rules of behavior. It is not driven directly by data analysis, but data analysis contributes to creating the semi-persistent rules for appropriate actions.

What I am describing here are "agents": the devices and systems that make rules-driven decisions and enact transactions on behalf of the device's owner. Agent systems have been with us for a long time, even pre-Internet. The least-cost routing algorithms that telecom carriers and some large enterprises use for determining the routing of voice telephony calls are agents. The automated trading systems now commonly used to supplement humans in the stock market are also agents. The automatic assignment and configuration of network capacity and network functionality in emerging programs such as software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) will, in effect, be conducted by agents working on behalf of carriers and infrastructure owners. Agents are becoming an essential part of the IoT nervous system, and any business that is aiming to make money from IoT needs to understand that.

Individuals and businesses will employ agents that interact with cloud orchestration systems to continually optimize the portfolio of services consumed by their human owners, based on owner-defined criteria of cost, functionality and performance. Some agents will be smart enough to subcontract some of the load to other, more specialized agents. The agents will be fed data by sensors and monitors, will receive analysis from aggregation centers to inform decisions, and will give instructions for action to other devices.

With agents in the system, we can see that the simple view of sensors monitoring and actuators performing chores, with a data center acting as broker, is just too simple. Agents will enable and manage complex processes, decision trees and relationships. Agents will bring to the wider world many of the management and control concepts that have been tried and tested within the walled gardens of factories, hospitals, power plants and data centers. Agents could even provide citizens with cross-checked and validated data about the world that will help them understand whether politicians are repeating authenticated facts or are just making them up.

Burgeoning sophistication can bring lots of benefits, provided we don't lose sight of what is really going on. But humans do like to over-simplify, even as the world naturally evolves into something more complicated.

Why One-Trick Billing Systems Don't Cut It with IoT
That brings us back to billing systems that need to monetize the IoT. There are lots of billing systems out there, and many of them are rather simple. These simple systems support only a narrow range of products or services, or they support only one type of pricing or charging model. These are one-trick billing systems, and they are good for one-trick service providers that don't plan to be anything else. Agents will certainly drive the generation of new and more nuanced business models as the concept of a service itself becomes more amorphous. IoT will inevitably bring a need for more, not less, sophistication and complexity, and we need systems, including billing systems, that can handle the complexity challenge.

I will share more thoughts on one-trick billing systems in my next blog, but in the meantime, read what more about the Internet of Things.

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud, BUSS. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda was CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. At MetraTech, Esmeralda was responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution for enterprise and SaaS products, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. She was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of resource and service control software, now part of Extreme Networks.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
Many companies start their journey to the cloud in the DevOps environment, where software engineers want self-service access to the custom tools and frameworks they need. Machine learning technology can help IT departments keep up with these demands. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-Founder, CTO and Board Member at ZeroStack, will discuss the use of machine learning for automating provisioning of DevOps resources, taking the burden off IT teams.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
Today traditional IT approaches leverage well-architected compute/networking domains to control what applications can access what data, and how. DevOps includes rapid application development/deployment leveraging concepts like containerization, third-party sourced applications and databases. Such applications need access to production data for its test and iteration cycles. Data Security? That sounds like a roadblock to DevOps vs. protecting the crown jewels to those in IT.
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, paneli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
Most of the time there is a lot of work involved to move to the cloud, and most of that isn't really related to AWS or Azure or Google Cloud. Before we talk about public cloud vendors and DevOps tools, there are usually several technical and non-technical challenges that are connected to it and that every company needs to solve to move to the cloud. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Stefano Bellasio, CEO and founder of Cloud Academy Inc., will discuss what the tools, disciplines, and cultural...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Corporation is a company developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality and wide variety of industrial computers and interface modules such as PCIs and PCI express. For more information, visit http://www.i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...