IBM, AT&T pair to offer 'Internet of things' systems

Cities and utility companies could benefit from large sensor-based data collection systems

AT&T and IBM will start jointly offering services designed to help municipalities, utility companies and other organizations use "Internet of things" technologies to better manage their infrastructure. 

"There is a huge amount of growth of the things that are connected" to networks, said Michael Curry, IBM vice president of product management. "When you have that many things connected in, you have a  big data problem. Companies want to be able to take that data and use it to optimize operations and predict failures."

IBM estimates that there will be over 18 billion connected devices in the world by 2022. Examples of connected devices include mobile phones and sensors.

For this work, IBM's software division will work with AT&T's Advanced Solution unit. AT&T will provide network connectivity and IBM will provide the software and integration. 

The two companies plan to help organizations build out systems that can collect data, wirelessly, from many remote end-nodes, an approach increasingly being called "The Internet of things" in the industry. The data can be analyzed and monitored, as well as fed to mobile devices for personnel in the field.

The initial targets for the service will be municipalities, mid-size utility companies and transportation companies, though any sort of organization could benefit from remote monitoring should consider IBM and AT&T's assistance, Curry said. 

Cities could use this approach to better and control manage traffic. Utility companies could more closely monitor their customers' energy usage. Transportation companies could better manage their fleets of vehicles.

IBM will bring a number of its software products for the work. The company's Intelligent Operations Center could be a hub for coordinating and analyzing data. Capabilities can be extended out to mobile devices through the IBM MobileFirst platform. Messaging can be handled by the IBM MessageSight MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) Appliance.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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