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IBM, Cisco, team up with Watson

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Cisco and IBM have announced a global collaboration to provide instant Internet of Things (IoT) insight at the edge of the network.

Now, businesses and organizations in remote and autonomous locations will be able to tap the combined power of IBM’s Watson IoT and business analytics technologies and Cisco’s edge analytics capabilities to more deeply understand and act on critical data on the network edge.

Today, billions of interconnected devices and sensors are gathering vast amounts of real-time data about the physical world. In recent years cloud computing has offered companies a powerful way of storing that data and turning it into valuable insight. But for businesses without easy access to high bandwidth connectivity, these capabilities are sometimes out of reach or take too long. To address the problem, IBM and Cisco have joined forces to offer a new way to produce immediate, actionable insight at the point of data collection. The new approach is designed to target companies operating on the edge of computer networks such as oil rigs, factories, shipping companies and mines, where time is of the essence but bandwidth is often lacking.

“The way we experience and interact with the physical world is being transformed by the power of cloud computing and the Internet of Things,” said Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson IoT, Commerce & 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. By coming together, 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.”

“Together, Cisco and IBM are positioned to help organizations make real-time informed decisions based on business-critical data that was often previously undetected and overlooked,” said Mala Anand, senior vice president of the Cisco Data & Analytics Platforms Group. “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. Our powerful technology provides customers with the flexibility to combine this edge processing with the cognitive computing power of the IBM Watson IoT Platform.”

For example, workers in remote environments will now be able to better monitor the health and behavior of critical machinery and more accurately plan for needed maintenance and equipment upgrades. By tapping into the power of the IBM Watson IoT platform and Cisco edge analytics, these companies can adopt the latest approaches to condition based maintenance through which equipment is monitored in real-time, potentially helping reduce maintenance costs by up to 50 percent and increase productivity by 25 percent (1). 

Bell Canada is delivering intelligent data analytics solutions to Canadian businesses from coast to coast:

Cisco and IBM are working with Bell Canada, the largest communications company in Canada, to deliver IBM Watson IoT and Cisco Edge over Canada’s largest and fastest 4G LTE network. Bell’s network coverage and LTE-Advanced speeds will enable customers to collect data in real-time.

“This powerful IoT technology from Cisco and IBM, combined with Bell’s world leading network technology, enables customers to tap into innovative real-time analytics options to maximize performance across their operations, no matter where they are,” said Stephen Howe, Bell’s Chief Technology Officer. “Many of our largest customers operate remote systems, requiring continuous availability and access to data to monitor critical performance factors and avoid downtime. Deploying the unmatched analytics capabilities of IBM Watson Internet of Things and Cisco networking intelligence with streaming edge analytics will help to further accelerate Bell’s leadership in Canadian IoT.”

Businesses including Port of Cartagena and SilverHook Powerboats are turning to Cisco and IBM to help address their most complex IT and IoT challenges: 

Port of Cartagena, a modern and highly efficient port in Colombia, is tapping into analytics on the edge to improve the port’s efficiency of assets including rubber tire gantries, cranes, and trucks. Several years ago, the Port started monitoring equipment conditions such as engine temperature, engine speed and run hours to improve efficiency and maintenance costs. Now the Port is beginning to use the IBM Watson IoT Platform with Cisco streaming edge analytics to monitor an expanded set of conditions in the cloud. This capability, including predictive analytics, is expected to help the Port to get ahead of equipment degradation and needed maintenance to keep machines running efficiently and avoid costly equipment failures.

Port of Cartagena has been nominated as the best container terminal in the Caribbean six times. It was also once named the most reliable port by the Caribbean Shipping Association, handling 2.5 million TEUs (twenty equivalent container units) per year (2).

“The city of Cartagena is considered a gateway to Colombia and home to the country’s major industrial expansion and development. As a container terminal transshipment hub, our port ships goods to almost 600 ports in 136 countries around the world,” said Eduardo Bustamante, Director of Operations, Port of Cartagena. “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 tire 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 our port.”

SilverHook Powerboats, a company that designs high speed racing watercraft reaching speeds of up to 200 mph, with each boat containing two engines worth approximately $1.5M USD, is tapping into Cisco edge analytics and IBM Watson IoT analytics to help race pilots react immediately to environment and engine multi variate conditions in real-time, indicating the need to throttle back in a split second, for example, to help prevent the boat’s systems from failure and to perform optimally. Previously, without this instant insight into the critical data, the outcomes could spell disaster.

Building on IBM and Cisco’s long-standing relationship, the solution will be marketed and sold together and will include Watson IoT Platform cognitive and real time insights from IBM with Cisco streaming edge analytics. This will enable real-time analytics to be performed at the edge and collection of data for longer-term analysis in the cloud.

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Epic Games brings a
Nite-mare to Android

Epic Games’ decision to not publish games through Google Play inadvertently opens a market to Android virus makers, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, decided to take the high road by skipping Google Play’s app distribution market and placing a third-party installer for its games on its website. While this is technically fine, it is not recommended for the average user, because allowing third-party installers on one’s smartphone opens up the possibility of non-signed and malicious software to be run on the smartphone. 

In June, malware researchers at ESET warned Android gamers that malicious fake versions of the Fortnite app had been created to steal personal information or damage smartphones. A malware researcher demonstrated how the fake applications works in the Tweet below.

While the decision to bypass Google Play was a bold move on Epic Games’ part, it has been a long time coming for app developers to move their premium apps off Google’s Play Store. The two major app distributors, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, take a 30% cut of every purchase made through their app distribution platforms. 

The App Store is currently the only way to get apps on a non-modified iOS device, which is why Epic Games had no choice for Fortnite to be in the App Store. On the other hand, Android phones can install packages downloaded through the browser, which makes the Play Store almost unnecessary for the gaming company. 

The most interesting part of this development is that Google is not the “bad guy” and Epic Games is no saviour to other game developers. Epic Games is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation and has resources like large-scale servers to distribute and update its games, a big marketing budget to ensure everyone knows how to get its games, and server security to protect against malware. 

Resources of this scale allow the game company to turn a cold shoulder to Google’s Play Store distribution and focus on its own, in-house solution. 

That said, installing packages without the Google Play Store must be done carefully, and it is essential to do homework on where a package is downloaded. Moreover, when a package is installed outside of the Google Play Store, a security switch to block the installation of third party apps must be turned off. This switch should be turned back on immediately after the third party package is installed. 

This complex amount of steps makes it less worthwhile to install third party apps, in favour of rather waiting for them to reach the Play Store.

From a consumer perspective, ESET recommends not installing packages outside of the Google Play Store and to ignore advertisements to download the game from other sources.

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How to take on IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming, whether you like it or not and organisations today will look to platforms and services that help them manage and analyse the streams of data coming from connected devices, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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Today, we are witnessing an explosion in IoT deployments and solutions and are moving towards a world where almost everything you can imagine will be connected. While this opens the door to many possibilities it also comes with its own challenges such as privacy and security.

The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life; it has been a free for all on a daily basis. IoT is a difficult concept for many people to wrap their minds around. Essentially, nearly every business will be affected.

Managing vast quantities of data across increasingly mobile workforces can be tremendously beneficial if done well, but equally can be cumbersome and ineffective if not managed properly. This is why technologies such as mobile edge computing are becoming increasingly popular, helping to increase the prevalence of secure mobile working and data management in the age of IoT.

Unlocking IoT

The evolution of IoT, despite rapid and ongoing technological innovation, is still very much in its fledgling stages. Its potential, though, is demonstrated by the fact that by 2020, Bain anticipates a significant shift in uptake, with roughly 80 per cent of adoptions at that point to have progressed to the stage of either ‘proof of concept’ or extensive implementation. This means that technological innovation in IoT for the enterprise is progressing at a similarly fast rate with many of these solutions being developed with utilities, engineering, manufacturing and logistics companies in mind.

Processing at the edge

For IoT to be adopted at the rate predicted, technology which does not overwhelm current or even legacy systems must be implemented. Mobile edge computing solves this. Such solutions offer processing power at the edge of the network, helping firms with a high proportion of mobile workers to reduce operational strain and latency by processing the most critical data at the edge and close to its originating source. Relevant data can then be sent to the cloud for observation and analysis, thereby reducing the waves of ‘data garbage’ which has to be processed by cloud services.

A logistics manager can feasibly monitor and analyse the efficiency of warehouse operations, for example, with important data calculations carried out in real-time, on location, and key data findings then sent to the cloud for centrally-located data scientists to analyse.

The work of wearables

The potential of IoT means it not only has the scope to change the way people work, but also where they work. While widespread mobile working is a relatively new trend in industries such as banking and professional services, for CIOs in sectors where working on the move is inherent – such as logistics and field maintenance – mobility is high on the agenda.

Wearables – and specifically smart glasses – have started to gain traction within the business world. With mobile edge computing solutions acting as the gateway, smart glasses such as Toshiba’s assisted reality AR 100 viewer solution have been designed to benefit frontline and field-based workers in industries such as utilities, manufacturing and logistics. In the renewable energy sector, for example, a wind turbine engineer conducting repairs may use assisted reality smart glasses to call up the schematics of the turbine to enable a hands-free view of service procedures. This means that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert and have additional information sent through, thereby saving time and money by eradicating the need for extra personnel to be sent to the site.

The time is ripe for organisations to look to exploit the age of IoT to improve the productivity and safety of their workers, as well as the end service delivered to customers. In fact, Toshiba’s recent ‘Maximising Mobility’ report found that 49 per cent of organisations believe their sector can benefit from the hands-free functionality of smart glasses, while 47 per cent expect them to deliver improved mobile working and 41 per cent foresee better collaboration and information sharing. Embracing IoT technologies such as mobile edge computing and wearable solutions will be an essential step for many organisations within these verticals as they look to stay on top of 21st century working challenges.

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