HPE fleshes out IoT strategy

HPE is moving from IT to operational technology with a set of products and tie-ups to target industrial internet of things applications

The industrial internet offers a huge opportunity for IT firms, and HPE has set its sights on working with CIOs and industrial partners to push out its technology.

In her keynote presentation at HPE Discovery in London, CEO Meg Whitman said: “Everyone and everything is being connected. IoT [internet of things] sensors generate massive amounts of data. There is a need for greater intelligence at the edge of the network.”

Earlier in November, during HPE’s fourth-quarter 2016 earnings call, Whitman described the importance of Aruba to the company’s IoT strategy. In a transcript of the call, posted on the Seeking Alpha financial blogging site, she said: “Through our Aruba offerings in security, analytics and connectivity, and our edge line converged IoT systems, we are building an ecosystem of partners and bringing unique solutions to this fast-growing market. I like to say we are going to be the IT in IoT.”

But among the challenges facing deployment of IoT in industry is cost, said Keerti Melkote, senior vice-president and general manager, HPE Aruba.

“The biggest barrier to IoT is that cellular networks are designed to provision mobile phones,” he said. This meant it could take half an hour to an hour to provision a new SIM contract, he added.

Melkote said the amount of revenue per device was much lower than for consumer devices, but there would be far more devices.

To lower the cost of IoT connectivity over cellular networks, HPE has developed the Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE).

The company said the product had been designed to give customers more control over IoT devices that needed cellular connectivity. The HPE MVNE provides provisioning, configuration, administration and billing services combined with wide area mobile network operator coverage.

HPE said the product would support new telco businesses offering IoT mobile virtual network connectivity.

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The company is also looking to address a requirement it sees for data integration as the variety of IoT applications grows.

Tom Bradicich, vice-president and general manager, hyperscale servers and IoT systems, at HPE, said: “Each IoT device creates data in a silo. We need to harmonise data.”

The company introduced its Universal IoT Platform, which supports lightweight machine-to-machine (M2M) standard oneM2M, to promote interoperability between IoT devices.

Like many IT companies, HPE is looking to address the explosion of internet-connected sensors in industrial internet applications by providing processing “at the edge”.

Analogue data from the sensors connected to industrial hardware is processed in real time on the machines directly, rather than via the cloud.

Bradicich added: “Data crunching must happen on the edge as latency is far too great, so you need to do edge compute.”

The company has developed an Intel Xeon-powered server designed to process sensor data in real time and run complex analytics.

HPE is going after the IoT market in two ways: through its existing relationship with CIOs, many of whom are at the forefront of digital initiatives in industrial companies; and through partnerships with specialists in the industrial market.

Among its announcements at HPE Discovery were new partnerships with National Instruments and Nokia to focus on selling products and services to industrial firms and smart cities.

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