Mind Commerce Publishing shares with us an extract of its recent report End-to-End M2M, Seventh Edition.
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of similar ability. M2M communications has historically represented the integration of microprocessors, microcontrollers and sensors with communications, monitoring and control systems to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of business operations. M2M has become much more complex and “smart” due to major advances in semiconductor and software with the potential to be embedded in virtually any asset or object requiring monitoring and control throughout the enterprise.
Service Delivery Platforms (SDP)
A service delivery platform (SDP) is usually a set of components that provide services delivery architecture (such as service creation, session control and protocols) for a variety of potential applications. The SDP interfaces with the network elements, OSS/BSS, and telecom IT infrastructure and partners such as application developers and content providers.
SDP is not a standardized technology. However, one key strand that runs through SDP is that of the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), a concept borrowed from hardcore IT based enterprise Business Process Management (BPM) methodologies. SDPs employ service brokers, analogous to SOA registries. Service brokers facilitate the choice of appropriate services for requesting applications. Thus SDPs optimize the usage of system and network resources.
SDPs facilitate efficient operation for diverse service provider – content owner agreements for revenue sharing ranging from the specifics of sharing proportion for varied content to determining the level of control exercised by either party over the end-user experience. As the SDPs significantly reduce the time-to-market, the involved parties have flexibility in redefining their arrangements in context of their business interests.
M2M SDP place an additional layer in the network topography to house a central repository of task-specific functions needed to support otherwise disparate M2M systems. Sometimes classified as a “Platform as a Service” (PaaS), it plays an intermediary function to manage data exchange among any number of proprietary standalone M2M systems that were purpose-built for monitoring and controlling remote assets with their relevant applications, irrespective of the underlying communications network. Sitting between the application layer and device-level communications, it frees system designers to select devices from multiple sources, irrespective of embedded protocols at the lowest level of communication.
The key benefits of the M2M PaaS architecture over standalone M2M implementations are time and cost savings. The system is essentially agnostic, incorporating a set of pre-loaded depository of application building blocks that streamline initial deployment. Platforms can be programmed to accept most incoming data streams from M2M devices, and provide output data that conforms to the relevant applications program interface (API) available to the application developer. APIs ensure that any given application receives inputs in an understandable format, so that critical messages like failure reports can be routed and dealt with appropriately. This simplifies the task of upgrading M2M systems because the unique needs of applications are disaggregated from the core platform function – and, most importantly — from each M2M device and its unique communications protocols. By providing API specifications to developers, platform advocates point out that this architecture takes uncertainty out of the equation.
Platforms also add an element of scalability to M2M implementation. Beyond aggregating the streams of GPS and sensor data supplied by the various endpoints, platforms can be cost-effectively used to correlate the data streams with other cloud-stored enterprise data through the use of analytics. Now both real-time and historical M2M events can be rapidly leveraged to expose unseen correlations that can be used to drive informed business decisions in a timely fashion.