When the global M2M community gathers in London this April for the annual M2M World Congress, the conversations that will take place will be different to those of previous years. We are entering a new phase in the M2M story; one in which industry debates and discussions will prove compelling for the whole business community –right up to the CEO. Today, M2M is no longer just about the technology, it is about how this technology can be used to generate business-changing insight. That’s a subject everyone wants to hear about.
This is not to say that technology concerns do not still linger. A recent study conducted by Beecham Research, on behalf of Oracle, highlighted that the sheer volume of data that M2M is giving rise to is still of concern to businesses. In fact, 85 per cent of respondents rated data storage and management as a ‘critical’ issue. This is one half of the M2M equation: how the data that M2M generates can be best stored and managed within the data centre.
The second part of the equation relates to how the data is generated in the first place: the devices themselves. We are now well aware of the huge rate at which connected devices are proliferating: there are roughly three billion Java-embedded devices and around 6 billion total connected devices out there today, a number that is only going to grow – and exponentially.
These have traditionally been treated as two related but ultimately separate areas: the device and the data centre, each with its own set of challenges and its own set of solutions. This is about to change however, due to the fact that M2M communication is increasingly colliding with one of the most topical business issues of today: big data analytics.
This is where the debate is changing. M2M is no longer about how to collate, transport and store data, it is about what you do with the data once it is stored. It is about how you extract insight from the data. For this to be done effectively, it is essential that every stage of the M2M journey is addressed as a part of the greater whole. From device to data centre the entire infrastructure must be engineered to work in harmony to a single end: extracting the most useful insights.
There are, however, a number of challenges that need to be overcome for this to occur.
The first lies in exploiting the value of the data. There are many opportunities to extract value from the data generated in the connected world, but the rapid growth in the number of intelligent devices presents challenges, and has a significant impact on the architecture of M2M services.
Secondly, valuable data must be protected, from the data centre to the network’s edge, while still being instantly available to users. So M2M must be secure – from device to data centre – but in a way that does not compromise the ability of the organisation to rapidly extract insight from it. The later largely relies on the third challenge being met: ensuring data integration across all IT systems. To maximise the value of data it must be accessible across critical operational systems, from ERP and CRM, to specialist vertical applications. Only then can it be stored, processed and analysed.
The M2M value chain can be extremely complex, from smart devices that process data locally, through intelligent gateways with advanced event processing capability that enable local decision making and manage traffic between the network and devices, to decision support systems that analyse data to provide actionable information to business users.
To co-ordinate activities effectively across this value chain, it is essential to have an integrated end-to-end platform that manages data from the device to the data centre. Oracle’s Device to Data Center platform provides just such an end-to-end solution. While it is true that no single company can truly deliver complete device-to-data-centre solutions, Oracle is one of the very few with the technology platform to enable those solutions to be created – from Java on the smallest devices, all the way through to the Big Data, backend and load systems.
Java is ideal for smart devices in M2M infrastructures. Oracle Java Embedded offers comprehensive features for resource-constrained devices, with the highest level of functionality, security, connectivity and scalability in the industry – all delivered through an ecosystem of more than 9 million Java developers worldwide. Moreover, as a standards-based language, Java provides code portability in M2M environments, accelerating time to market as new generations of sensor technology emerge. This is exactly the sort of flexibility and speed that is needed to ensure that businesses are optimising their M2M strategies from the outset.
Within the data centre meanwhile, Oracle delivers the functionality required to turn massive streams of M2M data into real-time information for end users – this is the output of M2M, the insights that will get the CEO excited and start bringing about tangible change to the business. Oracle enables structured and unstructured data to be processed, analysed and integrated with transactional systems in real-time, providing actionable business intelligence and supporting better informed decision-making throughout the enterprise.
With a single engineering team developing the Java platform and embedded data management systems; the back-end database, middleware and analytics technologies; and the extreme performance hardware that turns data into insight, only Oracle can deliver the integrated, reliable and secure platform that will turn M2M into a complete, engineered system. For businesses serious about gaining insights from the data generated by their connected devices, this approach makes complete sense.