The internet as we all understand is a network of computers capable of exchanging information between one and another. With the smartphones, tablets, and netbooks, the mobile internet now has an enormous amount of devices that are connected to one another. It is evident that humans are well connected through these networks of computers and smartphones and the various apps that ride over these networks. Now, how about the same for machines?
By now, most of us in the tech industry have come across this acronym M2M – machine to machine. In simple words, M2M is when a machine “talks” to another machine to gather data and use it to make decisions. A commonly used application for M2M is Telemetrics, which is an application where data is measured at the source and is transmitted to a receiver. The receiver processes the data and acts on it per the specifications. Typical examples of Telemetrics would be mail delivery trucks, real time monitoring of rail network, monitoring of machinery parts, and many more such applications – though most of them slant towards the B2B model.
The other M2M use case is what is broadly categorized as the Internet of Things (IoT) and that is basically anything with an on/off switch that is be able to communicate. The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be more than 20.8 billion connected devices. IoT also slants towards the B2C model, which includes pretty much anything that connects people to people, people to things, and things to people. A couple of examples of IoT would be: alarm clock is set to wake you up at 6 AM and also notify the coffee machine to start brewing; or you drive into the city and fire up an app that gives real-time information about available street parking. There are just countless number of use cases and applications for IoT, and we are just at the beginning.
What is important to note here is that M2M is laying the communication backbone for all these newer applications to run on top of it. Wireless data networks provide the necessary interoperability and roaming capability that will allow IoT devices to easily move around. Affirmed Network’s NFV-based Evolved Packet Core would be an important component in the M2M ecosystem for the following reasons:
- Dynamic scale up and down to handle the bursty nature of M2M traffic.
- Lower cost of network to match up with declining ARPU for M2M traffic.
- Provides resiliency and geographic redundancy to meet the much anticipated growth in M2M device connections.
- Virtualized personalities that allow scale in different dimensions, i.e. bandwidth, signaling, and sessions. While the growing consumer traffic demands more bandwidth, the growing M2M traffic will generate large number of sessions.
- Ease of network operations thereby allowing service providers to quickly roll out new services such as the virtual probe that offers intelligent network analytics.