The Internet of Things - Rambling Thoughts by Jim Fletcher
I recently did a presentation at our Pulse Conference on Smarter Infrastructure -- what is it and how it will impact us.
The world is fast becoming smarter -- sensors everywhere, huge masses of new data sources, the need for rapid, yet informed decision making, optimized processes -- the list goes on and on. How will we make this happen? How will me maximize our return? How will we turn these masses of new data into actionable information? Regardless of the industry you are in, regardless of whether you are public or private sector, the evolution to a Smarter Infrastructure is real and will impact all aspects of our lives.
Here's a link to the video:
On Wednesday of this week, I visited my local Sam's Club and purchased a tub of spinach as I do every week it seems. But this week was unique. When reading my email on Thursday evening, I receive an email from Sam's Club saying:
Dear Sam's Club Member:
Today, we were notified that Taylor Farms has initiated a Recall of its 1 lb Spinach product due to the potential presence of E. coli.
Taylor Farms has asked us to recall any of this product with a “Best if Use By” of 02-24-13.
Our records reflect that you may have purchased the 1 lb Spinach product with a UPC number of 0003022304780 and a “Best if Use By” of 02-24-13.
What could have been a widespread incident instead became a well organized targeted recall. Sam's had not only tracked its supply chain, but also had associated the supply with the consumption. For all of you privacy folks, yes, Sam's did know that purchased spinach and wine on Wednesday, but they also were able to notify me of a potential health threat immediately. Yet another example of what happens as we enable our infrastructure components to communicate.
Today is a great day for the datacenter. IBM and Emerson have announced a partnership which combines IBM's IT Service Management (ITSM) with Emerson's Trellis offering which was recently recognized as the industry leader in Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM). Gartner has said that the DCIM market is an estimated $450 million market today, and expected to grow to $1.7 billion by 2016.
But why all the excitement about this announcement? Anyone that has been in this industry recognizes that the datacenter has often been operated as a series of seemingly disconnected silos. One team manages power distribution, another manages the cooling infrastructure, another manages the physical placement of machines into racks, etc etc etc. When an operational problem occurs, we fall back into that siloed mentality with "twelve people on a bridge call" trying to determine where the problem actually originated. There is little automated "root cause" analysis and even less automated action across the silos. I recently heard of a major customer who had a chiller issue on a Sunday afternoon -- the IT team discovered the issue when the applications began to fail because the servers were failing from overheating.
Why weren't the systems connected? Why didn't a chiller failure signal the IT team and indicate which racks would be impacted and perhaps automate an action to move the workloads or throttle down the servers until the chiller issue was resolved? The answer unfortunately is simply because the operations of the systems were not connected.
With the IBM Emerson partnership, we've establish a base system for interlocking power management, cooling management, and traditional IT management. We're now providing a system which enables automated awareness of each slot in a rack -- what is in the rack? What is its power draw? What applications are running on the rack in that slot? We're now getting information, that can be integrated and leveraged to turn the datacenter into a "smarter datacenter".
Lots of great possibilities ...
For some time I have been talking about the need for, and value of the introduction of IT technologies into the operation space. The reality is that the operational space is becoming more IT like in its technologies and implementations. Mechanical devices are being replaced by or augmented with intelligent processors and sensors. They are being connected to (either physically or logically) to networks. These formerly isolated mechanical systems are now becoming connected "IT" endpoints. They are now more susceptible to network attacks. They are now software devices, and will need software updates -- whether for maintenance or for new capabilities. With the replacement of the man with the clipboard, why limit readings to once a day - why not once a second? Why not monitor the systems in near real time (both the endpoint and the collector).
The possibilities are endless and the challenges are many but the reality is that the convergence is happening and will drive a fundamental change in how we architect, operate, and maintain these systems.
Today was the beginning of a new era for IBM - we've been working with our industry partners to improve the energy and operational efficiency of buildings, and today we announced the availability of a bundled software solution that allows us to "listen to the building, and hear what it is telling us". From there we used our analytics to predict problems before they occur, or recognize problems when they occur while providing a mashup-based dashboard to visual the state of the monitored buildings.
Here's some press from the announcement:
IBM Unleashes Advanced Software
Solution for Smarter Buildings
IBM formally introduces its Intelligent Building Management software today -- an advanced solution that's being put to work at Tulane University's School of Architecture, The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the company's 35-building facility in Minnesota.
The software is designed to be an analytics and automation powerhouse that can help ramp up the environmental performance of any building, even ones that are 100 years old or more.
The product is the latest in a steady stream of solutions that IBM has unleashed in recent months to make the management of buildings, the energy and resources they use, and the transportation and virtual networks that connect them more efficient, more effective and more intelligent.
The software and its applications, which are being detailed today in an IBM Smarter Buildings Forum in New York, also are the results of the company's steadily increasing collaborative projects, partnerships and acquisitions -- all of which are aimed at positioning IBM as a dominant player in a nascent field that brings together IT, the built environment, vehicles and energy.
Here is an early look at the projects that will be featured during the forum:
While technology advancements in building management systems have made it possible to cull an immense amount of data on structures, the challenge has been to organize, analyze and present it swiftly to building owners and operators so they can proactively manage their properties -- as IBM Smarter Buildings Vice President David Bartlett said at GreenBiz Group's State of Green Business Forum this year.
The new software, which is supposed to be the most comprehensive product thus far in IBM's smarter buildings arsenal, is intended to address that need.
Earlier this week, IBM introduced its
Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter
Cities. The plug-and-play,
smarter-cities-in-a-box solution is expected to deliver high-powered systems and
network management capabilities to communities without the high price tag that
usually affixed to such technology.