By Erin Harrison
In a hyper-connected world and the growth of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, the opportunity for service providers is significant. By leveraging their network assets, service providers are in a position to transform M2M communications via the cloud into a value-added services business.
With the forecasted growth in connected devices predicted to exceed 15 billion by 2015, communication service providers are looking to capitalize on the revenue potential associated with that growth. They are:
- Investing in new business groups, centers of excellence, joint ventures and developer programs
- Expanding existing business-to-business (B2B) service groups
- Creating in-house M2M service platforms, including partial cloud implementation
- Offering enterprise customers with data center solutions for cloud-based M2M applications
In order to make M2M communications a reality, CSPs need to address several market demands including:
- Application-specific quality of service (QoS)
- High reliability
- Simplified application development and operations
- Easy-to-use device management
According to Alcatel-Lucent, service providers can use lower-cost M2M devices, widespread connectivity and applications market growth to monetize their assets and strengthen their position in the M2M value chain. Alcatel-Lucent’s application enablement strategy can help service providers extend their application-based business models to M2M by giving developers access to device-centric services.
“By leveraging their network, cloud data centers, applications enablement, and experience with customers, CSPs can address the challenges and deliver innovative M2M solutions,” according to an excerpt from the recent Alcatel-Lucent article, “M2M Communications Meets the Cloud.”
Because the M2M market is comprised of multiple vertical markets, such as transportation, utilities, healthcare, public safety and retail, CSPs can exploit these opportunities by deploying platforms that support vertical market solutions created by third-party application providers and their own teams. In doing so, service providers can improve their position in the M2M value chain. But there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Understanding how to address different vertical markets with their unique will be important for CSPs.
Application-specific QoS will also be necessary for market uptake. Alcatel-Lucent’s High Leverage Network provides not only the basic transport for all M2M applications and other critical functionality. It does ensure that each application is delivered with the QoS requisite for optimal performance. For example, business-critical video surveillance or healthcare monitoring may require higher priority than other applications in order to provide system administrations the quality of experience (QoE) they require and demand. In addition, various network elements within the HLN can prioritize packet forwarding to ensure QoS for specific data.
While CSPs can choose to implement device management capabilities either through a cloud environment, or through a hosted solution from vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent, increasingly customers are looking to the cloud to give them the reach, security and QoE that is right for them. The bottom line as Alcatel-Lucent officials point out is that a cloud-based M2M strategy can be an agile and efficient solution for CSPs seeking to pursue a more active role in M2M communications.