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Leading Lights 2017 Finalists: Most Innovative IoT/M2M Strategy (Vendor)

Iain Morris

Vendors catering to communications service providers are just as enthusiastic about the Internet of Things as the service providers themselves, and the two groups are often converging on the same opportunities. (See Leading Lights 2017 Finalists: Most Innovative IoT/M2M Strategy (Service Provider) .)

With the market in a constant state of flux, and still at an early stage of its development, coming up with technologies that will last the distance is no easy task. The shortlisted companies in this category might not have struck gold with their recent innovations, but all stand a reasonable chance of making a lasting impact on the industry.

Casa Systems
Cable vendor Casa Systems Inc. has been branching out into the wireless market and pushing new virtualization technologies to its customers. Announced in February and building on those moves, the company's new smart street light solution looks like a clever step into IoT that allows operators to take advantage of existing infrastructure.

The cloud platform essentially allows cable operators with unlicensed spectrum to offer smart lighting services to municipalities and public authorities on top of their existing cable-based transmission systems. The platform supports the management of streetlights and sensors, using Google Maps to show customers the status of streetlights in particular areas. Given cable interest in addressing new wireless opportunities, and the buzz surrounding the smart city phenomenon, the Casa move could tick a number of important boxes.

Huawei Technologies
Chinese mega-vendor Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. makes the shortlist for its OceanConnect IoT platform, launched in September last year. Huawei is promoting the platform as an "open ecosystem" that provides more than 170 APIs as well as various IoT "agents" that are intended to speed up service deployment.

It's different from traditional M2M platforms, says Huawei, because it supports connections for non-SIM as well as SIM-based devices. About 200 models of devices and sensors have so far been integrated with the platform, and Huawei claims to be working with about 100 "significant ecosystem partners" on rollout.

Software security specialist Mocana Corp. launched its new IoT security platform as recently as March and it seems worth shouting about. As Mocana explains, companies targeting IoT opportunities have so far tended to rely on physical security measures and "layered" network defenses to guard against cyber attacks. What Mocana claims to have done is develop a standards-based, "military-grade" cybersecurity platform that can be used in embedded systems across a number of vertical markets.

While this platform is new, Mocana says it began developing its cryptographic software library in 2002 and its customer list includes the likes of GE, Schneider Electric , Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), Samsung Corp. and Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC). Indeed, the company's technology is used by more than 200 IoT players in total and deployed on more than 100 million devices globally. It also contains "no open source" technology, Mocana proudly proclaims.

Is the Internet of Things really just a collection of disparate M2M networks that have little if anything to do with one another?

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) certainly thinks so and is pitching its new IMPACT (Intelligent Management Platform for All Connected Things) platform as a potential solution to this lack of interconnectedness. Launched last summer as a nifty way of providing management support for devices working across various network technologies, IMPACT got a makeover earlier this year with the addition of various "starter packs" for specific vertical markets. The real value, says Nokia, is in the platform's ability to create links between different applications and even, ultimately, different vertical markets -- in other words, to create a real Internet of Things.

That's a bold claim, of course, but Nokia has big plans for the applications and analytics division that is behind IMPACT. In November, it announced a goal of turning that unit into a "significant" standalone software company in the years ahead. And its performance so far this year has been a bright spot for Nokia in what remain difficult market conditions.

Wind River
A wholly owned software subsidiary of Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Wind River has already gained traction across a range of vertical markets with its "middleware" focus. But it makes the Leading Lights shortlist in 2017 for the Titanium Control platform it launched earlier this year.

The software, says Wind River, is intended to meet growing demand for both "open" and "secure" control systems. It virtualizes a number of physical subsystems, says the company, and will help customers to reduce their capital and operating expenses as they roll out edge and fog computing technologies. It is still very early days for Titanium Control, but the product has received plaudits from the ARC Advisory Group, a market research company, which says it could have "far-reaching implications" for manufacturing automation, and Wind River Systems Inc. already appears to have landed General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) as a customer. That's a very big IoT name to put on your marketing literature.

Chinese network equipment vendor ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) launched its smart parking management system last year and the technology is now being used in several pilot deployments in China, with telco giant China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) a key partner.

The system operates with either LoRa or NB-IoT, two of the most high-profile connectivity technologies addressing IoT requirements, and is basically intended to help drivers find parking spaces more easily. An app allows users to locate vacant spaces in nearby parking lots and will then show drivers the optimum route to those spaces. Customers can also use the app to pay for their spaces.

But it's the system's accuracy (ZTE says the magnetic sensing technology has an accuracy rate of above 99%) and its analytics capabilities that really grab the attention. The big data features mean it can predict future parking needs, says ZTE.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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