Don't confuse M2M with IoT

July 15, 2015

Don't confuse M2M with IoT

The world is on the cusp of a technological boom. In the not-too-distant future, we'll see billions of electronic devices connected to one another, tr...

The world is on the cusp of a technological boom. In the not-too-distant future, we’ll see billions of electronic devices connected to one another, transferring unimaginable quantities of data. We’re expecting nothing short of a revolution, one that will affect the way we all live. This Internet of Things (IoT), which is ever-expanding into daily consumer life and industrial systems, calls for a powerful new approach in connectivity.

It is true that machine-to-machine (M2M) data-sharing technologies have been around a long time. On factory floors throughout the world, M2M technology continues to successfully coordinate the efforts of robotic machines. But is technology that was developed for siloed, function-specific M2M systems positioned to handle the massive and ubiquitous data sharing requirements projected for enterprise IoT systems?

The answer is no. M2M technology and data platforms are not adequate for handling the coming data revolution.

Distinguishing between M2M and IoT can be a bit tricky because of their similar goal to move data around within a system so it can be acted upon. M2M, however, has functioned largely as a stovepipe, vertical system. Such a siloed operation lacks the potential to add great value beyond an individual subsystem.

To meet the demands of the coming IoT explosion, it’s imperative that data-sharing platforms be capable of real-time devices-to-device, device-to-cloud, and cloud-to-cloud communication. Think about data traffic for a moment—all the applications running on edge devices, cloud, servers, and gateways. There’s long been a need for solutions that create business value by connecting those myriad subsystems, getting all those disparate technologies to communicate with each other.

An M2M platform sends data to the cloud and connects devices from that central point, but it doesn’t support the peer-to-peer communications that will be crucial in the coming age. Data must flow freely to the edge, between devices, to gateways, and to cloud-based applications. Without this kind of well-orchestrated transfer of information, functions like supply-chain integration, mobile data delivery, and enterprise systems are greatly impeded.

Enterprise IoT requires new platforms to connect a new generation of distributed IoT applications. No matter where a device is in the system, the platform must deliver data to the right application within a razor-thin timeframe. The data connectivity layer must have contact with all the data-sharing nodes within the system.

Vortex by PrismTech is a solution designed to meet this demand for intelligent, data connectivity. based on the Object Management Group’s (OMG) Data Distribution Service standard, it allows data transfer from device to device, device to cloud, and cloud to cloud. Centralized systems can access the data in real time, which facilitates decision-making in the grid.

Experts anticipate the Enterprise IoT market to reach $1 trillion by 2020, so preparing for this super-massive flow of data is essential. Everything depends on the delivery of on-demand data to those applications that can put it to work. Without this process, the opportunities for greater control, optimization and productivity will never materialize.

The M2M market isn’t expected to expand and proliferate at anywhere near the rate of the enterprise IoT boom. It’ll continue to provide tactical, vertical data sharing, which gives that market a distinct place. But the need for communication between intelligent, connected devices at the edge and back to the cloud will outpace the need for M2M functionality.

Steve Jennis is the Senior VP of Corporate Development for PrismTech, a provider of system solutions for the IoT, the Industrial Internet, and advanced wireless communications.

Steve Jennis, PrismTech