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Field services operations bullish on emerging technologies, finds Red Hat global survey

By Zenobia Hegde

For many industries, from transportation to utilities, manufacturing and more, field workers are pivotal to the success of business operations, the satisfaction of customers, and the growth of the bottom line.

Field workers are now at the forefront of digital transformation where artificial intelligence (AI), smart mobile devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and business process management (BPM) technologies have created new opportunities to better streamline and transform traditional workflows and workforce management practices.

To better understand how these technologies are being applied and the impact they are having in the enterprise, Red Hat commissioned research firm Vanson Bourne to survey 300 IT decision makers from organisations in the U.S., Europe and Asia that employ a significant field workforce. The survey examined investment trends, current and future adoption patterns, use cases and implementation challenges.

According to the results, strong technology investment is expected by respondents with an average increase of 25% through November 2018, reflecting the importance of technology in transforming field service operations. Top business factors identified as influencing this investment include increasing field worker productivity (46%), streamlining or optimising field operations and processes (40%), and improving customer service (37%).

When we consider the current trends that are broadly driving conversations in the tech industry, AI is one of the leading topics. While still an emerging category—currently implemented by only 24% of respondents—we believe the technology has great potential across a variety of industries and use cases. It comes as little surprise that an additional 30% of respondents plan to implement AI in 2018, aligning with an average anticipated increase in investment of 26% for certain respondents over the same period.

The AI umbrella encompasses a number of specific technologies for those respondents that have either implemented already or plan to implement to address more specialised uses cases, including:

Predictive analytics (55%)
Machine learning (46%)
Chatbots or virtual digital assistance (45%)
Robotic Process Automation (44%)

Despite being more established technologies, mobile, BPM and IoT seem to defy their relative maturity in the market with respondents indicating double-digit growth across the board in both investment and implementations through November 2018. While 67% of respondents have already implemented mobile apps for field service operations, an additional 19% plan to implement new mobile apps, supported by a 20% average expected increase in investment by certain respondents.

The outlook for BPM and IoT is similar. Respondents expect implementations to grow from 61 to 81% for BPM and from 53 to 73% for IoT, fueled by 20 and 24% average expected increase in investment by certain respondents, respectively.

However, along with the appetite for technology investment and implementation growth, respondents are keenly aware of the technical challenges their organisations face in developing and implementing applications for field workforce management. Access to timely and relevant data is critical for field workers in remote locations, harsh environments, or areas of low network connectivity, as is the ability to protect that data as it flows between the field and back-end systems.

As a result, securing data access was the top challenge identified in the survey at 34%, followed by:

The pace […]

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Europe falls behind US in adoption of AI-led security, as half of firms surveyed say IoT is making it harder to stay secure

By Zenobia Hegde

IoT (Internet of Things) strategies are hampering security management, with almost half (47%) of executives in a new survey saying it has become more difficult to stay secure in the last year. This is one of the key findings of the 2017-2018 Global Application and Network Security Report, just released by Radware®, a provider of cyber security and application delivery solutions.

Adding to the problem is the complex issue as to who is responsible for IoT security. When asked who needs to take responsibility, there was no clear consensus among security executives. Responses pinned responsibility on the organisations managing the network through to the manufacturers, but the majority said it was down to consumers using these devices (56%).

Andrew Foxcroft, regional director for Radware UK, Ireland and Nordics, says that its time companies closed the debate and assume responsibility themselves: “Everything that is attached to the network is a threat to security. The longer we debate who is responsible the more advantage we hand to the hackers who will do everything that can to exploit weaknesses.

“Governments of the world are taking more and more interest in IoT and if companies fail to be decisive, take responsibility and collaborate on security, legislation will make the decision for them – look at Germany’s decision to ban smart toys.

Lazy assumption

“It’s lazy to assume consumers will think about security. We already know people find it challenging to keep up with software updates and are unlikely to think through the risks regardless of the terms and conditions they sign up to. The network is only as strong as its weakest link and the sooner companies realise IoT devices are the weakest link, and that the buck will always stop with them, the better.”

The study also found that the percentage of companies reporting financially motivated cyber-attacks has doubled over the past two years, with 50% of surveyed companies experiencing a cyber-attack motivated by ransom in the past year. As the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – often the preferred form of payment among hackers – has appreciated, ransom attacks provide an opportunity for hackers to cash out for lucrative gains months later.

Cryptocurrencies help hackers

“The rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies and their subsequent rise in price has presented hackers with a clear upside that goes beyond cryptocurrencies’ anonymity,” adds Foxcroft. “Paying a hacker in these situations not only incentivises further attacks, but it provides criminals with the vital funds they need to continue their operations.”

Andrew Foxcroft

The number of companies that reported ransom attacks in which hackers use malware to encrypt data, systems, and networks until a ransom is paid – surged in the past year, increasing 40% from the 2016 survey. Companies don’t expect this threat to go away in 2018 either. One in four executives (26%) see ransom as the largest threat to their business sector in the coming year.

“Criminals used various exploits and hacks this year to encrypt vital systems, steal intellectual property, and shut down business operations, all with ransom demands attached to these actions,” Foxcroft said. […]

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Silicon Labs to acquire smart home technology company Sigma Designs for $282M

Silicon Labs, a semiconductor company that manufactures products for the Internet of Things, Internet infrastructure, and industrial automation use cases announced last week that it will acquire Sigma Designs for a cash transaction valued at approximately $282M.

In case Sigma fails to meet certain financial conditions, the deal will still go ahead as planned for a reduced amount of $240M.

The deal is based on Sigma’s per share price of $7.05, a 26 percent premium over Sigma Designs’ closing price of $5.60 per share on Dec. 6, 2017. Sigma Designs is a smart home company that provides Z-Wave, a leading Internet of Things (IoT) technology for smart home solutions.

The acquisition of Sigma Designs will help Silicon Labs to expand its offerings in the smart home wireless connectivity market. “The connected home represents one of the largest market opportunities in the IoT. Today, there is no single dominant wireless technology for home automation, and protocols include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth®, Zigbee®, Thread, and proprietary,” said Tyson Tuttle, CEO of Silicon Labs. Additionally, the deal will allow Sigma to expand into Smart TV market.

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Smart city question over US$5 trillion posed in new ABI Research survey: Cheaper or smarter?

By Zenobia Hegde

Smart city technologies could save enterprises, governments and citizens globally over US$5 trillion (€4.21 trillion) annually by 2022 according to a new whitepaper by ABI Research. The new white paper analyses the scope for cost savings and efficiency as a driver for smart city deployments, smart technologies and the IoT.

According to the report, titled ‘Smart Cities and Cost Savings,’ the use and deployment of IoT and smart technologies will be pivotal to the future success of smart cities, but only if players collaborate to embrace a holistic approach.

With higher concentrations of people and enterprises in cities as a result of urbanisation, smart city and IoT technology, along with new sharing and service economy paradigms, will be key for cities to optimise the use of existing assets, maximise efficiencies, obtain economies of scale and ultimately create a more sustainable environment. Automation, artificial intelligence, along with sensors, data-sharing and analytics, will all be critical in helping cities save costs.

The report, commissioned by InterDigital, on behalf of its Smart Cities-focused business, Chordant™, in partnership with CA Technologies, considers the aggregated absolute cost-saving potential for the government, enterprises and citizens in a typical smart mega city of the future (i.e., in the next 5 years) with 10 million inhabitants. This is based on the yearly savings achievable for 75 of the world’s cities that have a total urban population of more than 5 million (source: World Atlas).

Key cost savings from the ABI Research report highlight that, in each such typical smart mega city of the future:

Governments: Could save as much as $4.95 billion (€4.17 billion) annually. Street lighting and smart buildings are two areas that could yield savings, with smart street lights expected to cut repair and maintenance costs by 30%.
Enterprises: A $14 billion (€11.80 billion) cost-saving opportunity exists for enterprises, in areas that include freight transportation by using more energy efficient transport options, such as drones, robots or driverless vans and trucks, and smart manufacturing plants.
Citizens: Savings of up to $26.69 billion (€22.50 billion) per year could be achieved in areas such as utilities, through the deployment of smart metres and micro-grids, and in education with the development of a hybrid education system (physical and online).

“While smart cities technologies offer multiple benefits, very significant direct cost savings represent a key incentive to embrace urban innovation for city governments, citizens and enterprises alike; this allows building stronger business cases with faster ROI, facilitating project approval and accelerating deployments,” said Dominique Bonte, VP Markets, ABI Research.

Dominique Bonte

The report references a B2B technology survey of 455 US-based companies across nine vertical markets conducted in March 2017 in which the companies ranked a list of 11 key benefits expected from implementing innovative technologies. “Reduction in operational costs” barely surpassed “faster and more efficient decision making” as the number one expected benefit, with a 5% margin.

“Smart cities are built upon the Internet of Things (IoT) allowing citizens to reimagine how they work, live and play,” said Rahim Bhatia, general manager, API Management, CA Technologies. “We’re excited to see […]

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PodM2M connects TAHMO IoT weather monitoring systems to remedy chronic hunger in Africa

By Zenobia Hegde

PodM2M (a division of Pod Group), a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) specialising in global, mission critical connectivity solutions for the M2M/IoT market, has announced that it is providing its resilient “Best Signal” IoT connectivity solution to the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO), a socially driven network of 20,000 connected weather monitoring stations every 30km across the African continent, to accurately measure previously undocumented weather systems.

One in four people in sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished. A lack of climatic information across this vast continent makes it difficult to plan a cropping strategy which would go some way to remedying the chronic hunger. Using a combination of weather pattern data and predictive computer models gathered by TAHMO, farmers in Africa can more efficiently plan their crop cycles, improve water productivity by up to 26% and plant more crops, with the risk of failure due to drought or flooding severely diminished.

TAHMO’s requirements for transmitting climate data across a huge distance, from different countries and in an extremely patchy coverage environment made choosing a sufficiently resilient IoT connectivity solution difficult, as many multi-network solutions are not able to transmit data efficiently across borders, and many operators are simply not present in the areas of Africa that benefit from TAHMO’s system.

Pod’s Best Signal Multi-Network SIMs connect to the best available signal on device start-up, and automatically switch networks in case of signal loss. This provides the TAHMO team with the resilient connectivity they need to measure weather systems across multiple countries without risk of losing valuable data. Thanks to Pod’s coverage in 185+ countries and over 600 networks, TAHMO has no problem collecting results from all the countries their devices are present in, and is assured of receiving the best possible coverage in Africa, as well as in US and European partner bases.

Charles Towers-Clark

Rebecca Hochreutener, TAHMO operations manager, immediately recognised the advantages of PodM2M’s specialist remote and mission-critical IoT SIM cards; “Although connectivity in Africa is not always simple, PodM2M has been able to provide reliable services and a very good and responsive support team,” she commented.

Charles Towers-Clark, managing director of Pod Group added, “TAHMO´s application is an excellent example of how the IoT can vastly improve standards of living and help to resolve some of the world´s most complex problems. We are extremely excited that our specialist mission critical connectivity is helping to make this project possible.”

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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Parks Associates: U.S. Households Will Buy More Than 10 Million Smart Home Controllers in 2021

By IoT – Internet of Things

Parks Associates announced new smart home research showing 26% of smart home owners purchased their devices from brick-and-mortar retail stores such as Best Buy, Home Depot, or Walmart, making this channel the most commonly used among U.S. consumers. By 2021, more than 10 million smart home controllers will be sold in the U.S., and more […]

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IBM Stacks Memory Cells to Boost Flash Capacity

By News Aggregator

By George Leopold

All-flash platforms are steadily being used to drive down the cost and infrastructure required to store soaring data volumes as more enterprises shift to hybrid cloud infrastructure. Recent technology advances involving the stacking of flash memory cells have greatly increased storage density while continuing to meet data scientists’ performance requirements.

With an eye toward upgrading datacenters to support hybrid configurations that could be use to extend data access across public and private clouds, IBM this week rolled out advances in flash array storage that among other things would provide a three-fold increase in the provisioning of storage capacity in the same physical space.

The company (NYSE: IBM) also unveiled virtualization software designed to ease the migration of data to and from public cloud services along with storage options that work with emerging tools like application containers and data applications such as machine learning. The company said the datacenter storage upgrades also would support both Docker and Kubernetes application containers.

Along with lowering storage costs, IBM said Thursday (Oct. 26) its flash arrays and storage software are intended to make data more accessible whether it is stored on-premise or in the cloud. The company promoted is FlashSystem array as reducing “data capacity costs” by nearly 60 percent.

The new flash array also in being incorporated into an upgrade of VersaStack converged infrastructure IBM jointly offers with Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO).

Andy Walls, CTO of IBM’s FlashSystem, said the flash storage market hit a wall as scaling of memory cells went to 16-nanometer features sizes. “The floating gate became so small that I knew every electron by name,” Walls quipped. “We needed to do something different, and what we did differently was instead of making the cells smaller we said, ‘Let’s add layers to the flash technologies’.”

The result is three-dimensional stacks of memory cells that are three times denser than previous cells but housed in the same datacenter footprint. IBM claims the 3-D approach yields 180 terabytes of maximum storage capacity with “consistent performance,” meaning “low latency all the time,” Wall said.

As flash cells expand, so too did bits-per-cell capacity, from 2 to 3 bits. That density advance, dubbed 3-D TLC, resulted in another 50 percent boost in storage capacity. Wall said the memory cell stacking technology is being incorporated across IBM’s FlashSystem product line.

Advances in solid-state arrays by IBM and other flash storage leaders such as Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise NYSE: HPE and upstarts like Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG) are expected to double storage density and reduce storage costs over the next year, according to market watcher Gartner Inc. (NYSE: IT). Demand is being driven by enterprise customers looking for ways to store and access huge volumes of unstructured data from sources like machine-generated log files, social media feeds and Internet of Things sensors.

Hence, data scientists are seeking are increasingly turning to scale-out flash storage as a way to facilitate new analytics stacks.

IBM said the new features to its all-flash systems and storage software would be available by the end of the year.

Recent items:

Supercharging Apache Spark with Flash and NoSQL

New Flash From IBM Targets Unstructured Data Analytics

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GSMA mobile IoT initiative helping operators target european connected energy market worth US$26 bn

By Zenobia Hedge

The GSMA announced that mobile operators deploying new Mobile IoT networks will be able to benefit from the European connected energy market estimated to be worth US$26 billion(€21.99 billion) by 2026. Data shared by analyst house Machina Research highlights the huge growth opportunity in the emerging connected energy market that could connect approximately 158 million new smart meters on LPWA networks across Europe. The total number of connections in Europe could be further increased if the 60 million cellular connections are also included with LPWA.

“The Internet of Things is fundamentally disrupting the smart utility market by providing ubiquitous connectivity and real-time, actionable data. Mobile IoT networks will take this further by offering energy providers a cost-effective solution to connect millions of smart meters,” said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer, GSMA.

“There is a real sense of momentum behind the roll-out of Mobile IoT networks with multiple global launches, however, there is still a huge runway for growth. We encourage operators to act now to capitalise on this clear market opportunity and further accelerate the development of the IoT.”

The current connected energy market, which includes applications related to the generation and transportation of energy, microgeneration, smart grid and distribution monitoring and smart metering, is worth an estimated US$11.7 billion(€9.90 billion). The European connected energy market represents approximately 21% of all global revenues, with APAC claiming 54% and the Americas 21%.

The European Commission recently published a proposal indicating that approximately 200 million electricity smart meters and 45 million gas meters will be rolled out by 2020. The Commission also estimates that by 2020, approximately 72% of Europeans customers will have a smart meter for electricity and about 40% for gas.

“In the coming years we will see an important change in the way natural gas networks operate. The need for more efficient operations, improved safety and better quality of service will be paramount and we can do this through the roll-out of smart gas metering systems. We are moving towards the digitalisation of gas networks, a transformation from “pipe-centric” systems to “data-centric” systems.

To make this happen, reliable communication means are a must and the arrival of NB-IoT and LTE-M represents an acceleration of this evolution. These new technologies offer everything necessary, such as long battery life, penetration and data security, as well as licensed spectrum,” commented Gianfranco De Feo, executive director, Shanghai Fiorentini Ltd.

Mobile IoT networks supporting growth of connected energy

Mobile IoT networks are designed to support mass-market IoT applications across a wide variety of use cases including connected energy solutions such as water and gas metering, smart grids, electricity and energy monitoring. They support IoT applications that are low-cost, use low data rates, require long battery lives and often operate in remote and hard to reach locations making them ideal for the connected energy sector.

Mobile networks are already supporting the smart electric metering market, but now other sectors such as water and gas metering are turning their attention to the benefits of adopting NB-IoT and LTE-M networks due to low power and better […]

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GSMA mobile IoT initiative helping operators target european connected energy market worth US$26 bn

By News Aggregator

By Zenobia Hedge

The GSMA announced that mobile operators deploying new Mobile IoT networks will be able to benefit from the European connected energy market estimated to be worth US$26 billion(€21.99 billion) by 2026. Data shared by analyst house Machina Research highlights the huge growth opportunity in the emerging connected energy market that could connect approximately 158 million new smart meters on LPWA networks across Europe. The total number of connections in Europe could be further increased if the 60 million cellular connections are also included with LPWA.

“The Internet of Things is fundamentally disrupting the smart utility market by providing ubiquitous connectivity and real-time, actionable data. Mobile IoT networks will take this further by offering energy providers a cost-effective solution to connect millions of smart meters,” said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer, GSMA.

“There is a real sense of momentum behind the roll-out of Mobile IoT networks with multiple global launches, however, there is still a huge runway for growth. We encourage operators to act now to capitalise on this clear market opportunity and further accelerate the development of the IoT.”

The current connected energy market, which includes applications related to the generation and transportation of energy, microgeneration, smart grid and distribution monitoring and smart metering, is worth an estimated US$11.7 billion(€9.90 billion). The European connected energy market represents approximately 21% of all global revenues, with APAC claiming 54% and the Americas 21%.

The European Commission recently published a proposal indicating that approximately 200 million electricity smart meters and 45 million gas meters will be rolled out by 2020. The Commission also estimates that by 2020, approximately 72% of Europeans customers will have a smart meter for electricity and about 40% for gas.

“In the coming years we will see an important change in the way natural gas networks operate. The need for more efficient operations, improved safety and better quality of service will be paramount and we can do this through the roll-out of smart gas metering systems. We are moving towards the digitalisation of gas networks, a transformation from “pipe-centric” systems to “data-centric” systems.

To make this happen, reliable communication means are a must and the arrival of NB-IoT and LTE-M represents an acceleration of this evolution. These new technologies offer everything necessary, such as long battery life, penetration and data security, as well as licensed spectrum,” commented Gianfranco De Feo, executive director, Shanghai Fiorentini Ltd.

Mobile IoT networks supporting growth of connected energy

Mobile IoT networks are designed to support mass-market IoT applications across a wide variety of use cases including connected energy solutions such as water and gas metering, smart grids, electricity and energy monitoring. They support IoT applications that are low-cost, use low data rates, require long battery lives and often operate in remote and hard to reach locations making them ideal for the connected energy sector.

Mobile networks are already supporting the smart electric metering market, but now other sectors such as water and gas metering are turning their attention to the benefits of adopting NB-IoT and LTE-M networks due to low power and better […]

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