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Cisco and IBM collaborate on IoT analytics at the network edge

Cisco and IBM combine edge analytics with Watson to enable a deeper understanding of data generated on the internet of things

Cisco and IBM have begun a global collaboration to generate instant internet of things (IoT) insight at the network edge using Cisco’s edge analytics tools and IBM’s Watson IoT and business analytics technology.

Although billions of IoT devices and sensors are already generating huge amounts of data in real time, those businesses without easy access to high bandwidth connectivity to support access to the cloud have struggled to realise insight from this data, the two firms said.

Cisco and IBM believe that by joining forces, they can offer a new way of producing immediate and actionable insight at the point of data collection and can help enterprises operating on the network edge, such as manufacturing, shipping, mining and energy production, gain a deeper understanding of relevant data generated by the IoT.

“The way we experience and interact with the physical world is being transformed by the power of cloud computing and the IoT,” said Harriet Green, general manager of IBM Watson IoT, commerce and education.

“For an oil rig in a remote location or a factory where critical decisions have to be taken immediately, uploading all data to the cloud is not always the best option. IBM and Cisco are taking these powerful IoT technologies the last mile, extending Watson IoT from the cloud to the edge of computer networks, helping to make these strong analytics capabilities available virtually everywhere, always.”

Mala Anaud, senior vice-president of Cisco’s data and analytics platforms group, said the collaboration would also help enterprises make better decisions based on critical data that may previously have been overlooked, or completely undetected.

“With the vast amount of data being created at the edge of the network, using existing Cisco infrastructure to perform streaming analytics is the perfect way to cost-effectively obtain real-time insights,” she said. “Our powerful technology provides customers with the flexibility to combine this edge processing with the cognitive computing power of the IBM Watson IoT platform.”

As an example, workers in underground mines may be able to monitor the health and behaviour of critical machinery and plan better for maintenance and upgrades. Cisco claimed that if they were able to adopt new approaches to condition-based maintenance, they could halve maintenance costs and increase productivity by up to 25%.

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A number of tests of the collaboration have already begun in the field. In Canada, comms company Bell Canada has been using a 4G network to deliver Watson IoT and Cisco edge analytics to allow enterprise customers to collect real-time data and maximise their performance.

And in Colombia, the port of Cartagena has tapped into analytics on the edge to improve its efficiency by getting ahead of equipment degradation.

“As a container terminal trans-shipment hub, our port ships goods to almost 600 ports in 136 countries around the world,” said Eduardo Bustamante, director of operations at the port.

“The opening of the new Panama Canal has created new challenges for all ports in the region and has made service reliability a key factor of success.

“With these new capabilities from IBM and Cisco, we gain immediate insight into the health and operations of our more than 47 rubber tyre gantries and 180 trucks. As a result, we expect to be more productive in our maintenance processes to help ensure our fleet runs even more efficiently and vessels and cargo are moving smoothly in and out of the port.”

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