The Evolution of the M2M Market: ITEXPO West Interview

By Beecher Tuttle September 08, 2011

ITEXPO West 2011, set to kick off on Sept. 13 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, is made up of a number of collocated events that touch on some of the hottest trends in the technology and communications world today, including 4GWE, HTML5, cloud computing and the evolution of the M2M market.

With this in mind, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani reached out to a few executives and thought leaders in these spaces to get their opinions on where technology will take us next. Tehrani recently caught up with Gary Oliverio, CTO and founder of CradlePoint, Inc., a provider of 4G/3G network router solutions for individuals, small businesses and enterprises.

Oliverio has seen a major shift in the M2M market due to the gradual transition to next-generation networks and the ever-increasing acceptance of cloud-based solutions. CradlePoint is leveraging these market evolutions to expand secure wired and wireless connectivity to end users through its suite of technologies.

CradlePoint also uses the cloud to deliver remote services to its enterprise customers via its WiPipe Central management platform, which sends out updates and enhancements to end users after the initial deployment, says the company's CTO.

After catching up on CradlePoint's role in the market, Oliverio and Tehrani touched on social networks and their unique relationship with service providers and device manufacturers.

As far as the future of the newest social network on the scene – Google+ – Oliverio says that it is completely dependent on the imagination and persistence of the innovators. Unique vision and passion are necessary to succeed in today's “digitized, interpersonal group communication business,” says Oliverio, who looks to Apple's former CEO Steve Jobs as a model to pattern oneself after.

Oliverio also gave his two cents on the escalating mobile operating system war, currently being dominated by Apple and Android. However, Oliverio believes that Microsoft and Research in Motion each still “have a shot” at making their presence felt in the enterprise market.

CradlePoint will be one of the exhibitors at ITEXPO West 2011, camped out at booth 1320 to talk to enterprises that are planning a move to cloud-based solutions, or anyone directly or indirectly involved with the M2M business.

The complete interview is below.

How has your market evolved over the past year and what trends have fueled those changes?

The M2M market is changing as a result of two key trends: 1) the added bandwidth provided by the evolution from 2G to 3G and now to 4G networks; and 2) the added breadth and depth of cloud-based services that can connect to remotely deployed equipment connected by the Mobile Broadband networks over a standard TCP/IP connection.

One of the commonly overlooked capabilities of the 4G networks is not solely in the bandwidth increase, but it’s the number of simultaneously managed active connections per tower. This is an important enabler to reach the elsewhere mentioned ‘50 billion connections by 2020’. Additionally, an intermediate ‘hop’ between cellular broadband networks and these 50 billion device nodes will be necessary. CradlePoint is developing the key technologies and products necessary to expand connectivity to help the M2M industry reach this milestone.

What do you see as the next disruptive force in technology and how will it impact your market or business?

As the evolution in 4G protocols seems to have converged into either LTE-TD or LTE-FD, what remains elusive is the ability for a single radio to connect over multiple slices of the radio spectrum. Because of the challenges of incorporating multiple radio systems in a single device, we expect that there will still be a strong motivation for devices to be tied to networks and their business models, implying a continuation of some of the subsidy model. 

Opposing this force will be technologies that enable device makers to deliver solutions that transcend networks. Ultimately, performance, reliability, and cost will drive buying decisions, which in the M2M market may not benefit as they would in consumer-scale products such as cellular phones.

How has the acceptance and adoption of the cloud model influenced your development cycle and process?

CradlePoint has embraced the cloud as a platform for delivery of remote services that are essential for our enterprise customers. From our WiPipe Central management platform, we deliver product updates and enhancements – which allow us to leverage our continuous development cycle to keep customer equipment enabled to connect to networks that are turned on after the initial customer deployment is complete. We also give those enterprise customers a privately-access portal from which they can monitor and manage their fielded equipment.

What is the most common request you are seeing from your customers? How is your company addressing these demands?

Our broadest sets of requests are related to network support. Our response to this is in enhancing the support of commercially available mobile broadband modems that each of our business-class routers support. Currently, we provide support for over 250 standard modems that can connect to over 50 networks worldwide. Additionally, we have integrated router models that incorporate 3G and 4G network connectivity.

There has been talk of Facebook coming into the mobile marketplace with its own devices, and LinkedIn just rolled out a new HTML5 mobile app. Do you expect we will see a push towards universal solutions or customized mobile devices as we move forward in social media?

While we find it interesting that innovative devices such as Kindles and iPads incorporate wireless technology of either a cellular or WiFi flavor, their purposes are different. Amazon, a ‘service provider,' drove the Kindle, which is all about consuming books. Apple drove the iPad because they saw the Web browser as the universal ‘dashboard’ that can be implemented either as a custom applications or a ‘destination’ web page like Facebook or LinkedIn or Yahoo. Those companies, at their core, are communications providers – just a ‘different’ form of communication than phone calls.

Today’s mobile network providers are evolving from just being in the ‘voice communications’ business to be in the data connectivity business. While there’s talk of those networks turning into a ‘dumb pipe,' there’s nothing dumb about a pipe that can work anywhere and connect at over 10 Mbps. These networks provide great value, and as more services and applications run ‘over the top’ to more nodes on the network, their value will only increase. 

As service providers, LinkedIn and Facebook each provide a ‘dashboard’ to their users, and device architects such as Apple, Google, Samsung and Sony are in the best position to innovate platforms and user interfaces that will best show-off that ‘dashboard’ to the communication service providers, whether voice, data, or ‘dashboard’ centric. The universal solution today is the browser, and the fight will be over how usable, how pretty, and how flexible device makers can make their interface – whether voice centric, dashboard centric, or somewhere in between.

Besides phone calls, mobile is now sharing bandwidth with video and machines. What do you predict will be the mix of traffic in the future?

While video traffic is a terrific showcase for how fast the 4G networks are, it will be hard to demonstrate a business case unless there is some grading system to separate the value of each transmitted bit. Real time voice and text are among the highest value bits, real-time video is of high value, but streamed (entertainment oriented) video is perhaps the lowest bandwidth. 

We expect to see various forms of QoS and data plans that allow the more cost sensitive bits to travel on ‘standby’, while the highest value bits will travel with a higher priority through the networks. At the end of the day, credit card transactions will occur magically, reliably, and instantaneously without our thinking about it, voice communications will continue to have about the same level of quality, and video will become more prevalent. We can all expect to get what we pay for.

Will Google+ become bigger than Facebook and Twitter? Why or why not?

That’s a little like asking 4 years ago whether Facebook would be bigger than MySpace. It will depend on whether each of the innovators that drive those companies stick with them, or if they decide to punch out. It’s amazing what Steve Jobs, with his incredible blend of imagination, vision, and persistence, has done with Apple to revolutionize the device business, the music service business, and how each, in turn, have impacted the habits of our culture. That kind of vision blended with passion is necessary to lead in such a nascent market as this digitized, interpersonal group communication business.

As businesses continue their move toward virtual workforces, how are you meeting the need for increased mobility?  What barriers are keeping others from adopting mobile strategies?

We see a crossover between the ‘independent, virtual workforce,' where small businesses and contracted, independent individuals make buying decisions on how to apply technology to getting work done, and enterprises and large businesses, which have a slightly different approach on how to equip their virtual workforce with technology, to get, essentially, the same work done. 

On the one hand, individuals make decisions based on self-install, self-managed, self-supported devices, while the larger organizations depend upon well documented, well-supported, and well-managed infrastructures for centralized support of remote equipment. 

We support business users at both ends of this spectrum with systems that are easy to use, but also can be combined in larger deployments that are centrally managed. The barriers that are impeding this trend are slowly receding as standardization continues around WiFi and 3G/4G networks for network connectivity. Incorporating both of these standards will become essential over time.

How do you see the mobile operating system war (iPhone vs. Android vs. RIM vs. WM7 vs. HTML5) playing out?

There is quite a bit of drama lately with the Google and Motorola news; add onto that the report of HP all but killing WebOS. This leaves RIM as the remaining verticalized solution, and Microsoft as a software platform for independent hardware vendors to partner with. Microsoft and RIM each have a shot at drilling into the Enterprise to shore up their respective presence there. 

Expect more consolidation, and changes in alignment between big players. The simple browser will grow in importance – and incorporate more cool functionality.

Is HTML5 the game changer many predict it will be?

As web content continues to evolve, HTML5 represents a point of standardization which will enable a new level of growth in blending static content with dynamic with highly animated content. This growth will occur because developers will have confidence that they’ll reach a greater share of their target customers who will have devices that are able to consume their content, and users will have a higher confidence in getting the full experience intended by the service or content provider.

What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO West in Austin? What do you see as being the biggest trends at the show?

We’re excited to see what innovations are coming both in devices that leverage the 4G networks, and how existing M2M systems will incorporate 4G in their plans.

Who should visit your booth at ITEXPO and why?

Any businesses with M2M applications that require high internet connectivity and availability should visit us at booth #1320.

We would love to demonstrate our products and solutions to anyone that is also moving to or is actively contemplating a move to cloud-based solutions in their enterprise. 

CradlePoint has a focus of delivering integrated WAN redundancy solutions that eliminate the Achilles’ heel of cloud computing – which is the risk of WAN outages at the small business premise and enterprise branch location. 

We also are announcing fully integrated M2M solutions that incorporate our routing technology, which enable a broad range of remotely deployed equipment to easily and instantly be deployed, monitored, and managed. Anyone directly or indirectly involved in these businesses, or anyone looking to learn about tying 4G technologies into the M2M business should come by the CradlePoint booth.

CradlePoint is a Platinum sponsor of The M2M Evolution Conference, collocated with ITEXPO West. To be held Sept. 13-15 in Austin, TX, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit CradlePoint in booth #1320. Don’t wait. Register now.   Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO… follow us on Twitter.

Beecher Tuttle is a IoTevolutionworld contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

IoTevolutionworld Contributor

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