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Conferences & Communities Grapple With IoT

Steve Bell

In a prior blog about achieving a fully automated Internet of Things (IoT) world, I encouraged the creation of not just an ecosystem of companies, universities and government agencies to address the technical issues, but also the creation of a community to consider the profound economic, social and political impact that will result from these technologies, and to influence the thinking on how to handle the transitions.

Ecosystems and communities are sometimes driven by visionaries but more often occur as a result of commercial opportunities or structural mechanisms such as trade shows, trade bodies, standards bodies and alliances. This, for instance, is the power of the Mobile World Congress, which has grown from a small GSM conference in 1994 that united a group of mobile thought leaders and resulted in a global trade show that has sucked into its orbit everything from startups to the connected car and smart cities.

The growing requirement for devices with smart sensors and systems that are able to connect and interface with the cloud everywhere has resulted in the creation of new cloud and network architectures. The need to simultaneously have cloud services in central data centers and at the edge of the network to handle the immediacy of decision-making, and at the same time handle the requirements for tiered data storage, has led to the concept of "fog" computing.

Future 5G networks are being designed as software-defined "networks of networks" that use multiple technologies to deliver differentiated services across potentially 100 billion connections. In particular, the diversity of IoT scenarios will require the future network to be virtually sliced to ensure constant connectivity, context-specific service profiles and end-to-end cybersecurity.

With the many technology and industry solutions being explored around the globe by the ICT industry, it is essential that things are not invented multiple times and that best practices and experiences are shared. This is particularly true for services providers and enterprises as they battle to make sense of the dizzying array of technologies and what they mean to the transformation of their business models.

This is the goal of Huawei's Connect 2016, an integrated conference in Shanghai aimed at the ICT ecosystem. The conference brings together more than 80 partners, including SAP, Intel and Infosys, along with developers for keynotes and more than 1,000 tech sessions covering the rapidly developing cloud, big data, IoT and SDN technologies.

Although a great deal of value is gained at these shows and conferences through quality engagement, dialogue and learning, these are usually only two-, three- or four-day events. There is a bigger need to build on these sporadic interactions and create a virtual global community that is available 365 days a year with 24/7 news analysis, blogs, video reports and webinars -- a place where ecosystem members can come together to continuously engage with other members, share and access the relevant information, understand the rapidly evolving trends, and as a result create an open forum for collaborative intelligence and crowdsourced creativity.

This community would focus on both technical and business matters, and could provide the foundation for broader involvement with a diverse audience on the implications of IoT and ICT transformation. By being open and inclusive, it's possible to ensure that adoption (and the resultant benefits) of these amazing technologies is not held up for uninformed economic, social or political reasons.

This blog is sponsored by Huawei. For more information, please visit Huawei Connect 2016.

— Steve Bell, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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