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Innovations Highlight IBM’s Role in 5G, Edge Computing

By Don Bishop

Innovations from IBM highlight the company’s role in helping the telecommunications industry evolve as 5G wireless communications and edge computing redefine how business and consumers connect. IBM is collaborating with Boston Dynamics, Cisco, Palo Alto Networks and Turnium Technology Group to help equip businesses in next phase of digital transformation. IBM’s artificial intelligence-powered automation software, including Cloud Pak for Network Automation and services from IBM Consulting support industry innovation and 5G adoption, according to information provided by the company.

“IBM continues to make major strides in helping communications service providers adopt artificial intelligence and automation on open hybrid cloud platforms, as well as standards to remain in control of where and how they deploy their network services, edge computing and enterprise offerings,” a statement from IBM reads.

The company said that its artificial intelligence-powered automation software and its consulting services would support innovation for communications service providers through its systems integration capabilities and the application of technology to create workflows that are ever more intelligent and would support modernizing applications so enterprises can handle volumes large enough in a world of hybrid cloud environments.

In a new collaboration with Boston Dynamics, IBM is focused on delivering data analysis at the edge to help companies address worker safety, optimize field operations and boost maintenance productivity in industrial environments such as manufacturing facilities, power plants and warehouses, the company said. It said that, enabled by artificial intelligence and hybrid cloud innovations from IBM Research, IBM Consulting will develop edge payloads that integrate with Spot, the agile, mobile robot from Boston Dynamics.

In addition, Cisco and IBM will integrate Cloud Pak for Network Automation and Cisco Crosswork Network Automation software to enable orchestration and management of virtual 5G networks, IBM said.

Palo Alto Networks and IBM are extending their relationship to help address unique security requirements for telecom operators deploying 5G networks and edge services, IBM said.

“The companies are working to deliver joint security solutions and services designed for 5G networks and ecosystems,” the IBM statement reads. “The collaboration provides automation and orchestration to help create secure 5G network slices that are designed to enable new revenue streams for network operators. Using Palo Alto Networks containerized next-generation firewall (CN-Series), container security solution Prisma Cloud Compute Edition, IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation and IBM Security Services, the joint solution is being designed to enable agility and optimal threat detection based on deep visibility of 5G traffic.”

Andrew Coward, general manager of software-defined networking at IBM.

Meanwhile, according to IBM, Turnium Technology Group has committed to bring Technology Assurance Group’s network of managed technology service providers to IBM Cloud for Telecommunications. The collaboration between Turnium and IBM helps Technology Assurance Group extend the reach of its managed technology solutions and partner network to new customers across the United States, IBM said.

“A study from the IBM Institute for Business Value on ‘‘The End of Communications Services as We Know Them’ revealed that 59 percent of high-performing communications service providers surveyed agree they must become secure clouds infused with artificial intelligence and automation,” said Andrew Coward, general manager of software-defined networking at IBM. “The study also says that communications service providers are thinking more strategically about 5G-enabled edge computing more for its ability to building more revenue as 5G and edge computing usher in a new reality for businesses. We are continuing to help communications service providers embrace secured technologies like automation, artificial intelligence and hybrid cloud, and we believe IBM is uniquely positioned to provide the software and consulting needed to evolve their digital architecture.”


Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.

RoI on the IoX

By Ernest Worthman, AWT Executive Editor and IEEE Senior Member

One of the reality checks that is beginning to emerge concerning the Internet of Everything/Everyone (IoX), now that much of the technology gee-whiz has abated, is emerging platforms for return on investment. No matter how one spins it or how it evolves, for the immediate future, the IoX will emerge as a monumental money pit both for those looking to invest in it and those looking to capitalize on it. I might even go as far as to say that just about everyone will have some sort of investment in it, somewhere, even if it is only a smart toothbrush.

The amount of money going into research, development and roll out is staggering. Cisco’s analysts same up with a paltry $19 trillion in global opportunities over the next 10 years. When one puts that into the sphere of the population, based upon the approximate present global headcount of 7,243,024,817 that amounts to just over $2,623 for every human being on this planet.

My inquisitive mind wants to know what is in it for everyone. My best deductive answer is that everyone simply sees it as another chance to sell something to someone – the opportunity to make something old (a digital thermostat) new again. It is the same digital thermostat now with a wireless interface that talks to your computer, which in turn talks to your smart device and tell it to come up to 720via the app someone else sold you.

The end result is that there really is not anything different about this model than any other paradigm shift of the past. It is just bigger, better, more of it, and it is all connected, and has multitudes of players, and avenues for RoI. Even so and simply put, it is the same old market tussle it has always been. However, to be a player, one has to invest at one point or another.

This one, however, really does have a twist. The perfect marketing scenario exists within the IoX. With ubiquitous interconnect enabling always-on, feedforward and feedback are the ultimate marketing tool. The supplier gets first-hand knowledge about how their product is utilized. Every time that product gets used, it is logged. Wow! Can you imagine how powerful that is? That means that the vendor can have a real-time feedback loop on the object and make modifications on the fly. They will also, likely, have the ability to change the object’s behavior on the fly.

It is kind of like ordering a pizza, and when it arrives, you do not like the look of the olives, so Pizza Honcho can immediately remove the olives, put on anchovies, and resend it. But the theory is valid. It can work on your thermostat or your autonomous vehicle.

The marketing peeps see the IoX as being the ultimate customer retention tool. After all, why would you not keep something that is totally malleable to your end user needs and desires? And there is value in the aftermarket. Either a monthly support contract or pay as you go for additional services (like offering to save you money and detergent by monitoring the washing machine load and optimizing the resources per load – would you pay for that)?

This is just one scenario of, likely, thousands, or even more. Depending on how the IoX forms, and how that goes, the potential for RoI could be vast.

But there is a caveat. No matter how vast the potential RoI is, there is a fickle factor…will the user really just turn over control of everything and anything for efficiency and convenience, so they can spend all of their time doing what is pleasurable and not what they have to (Logan’s Run, anyone)? That is a variable that, even though human nature has been studied to death, remains a variable.

Well, that was quite a diatribe for something that is hardly visible today. But, still, parallel computing and quantum cryptography was not something the pioneers envisioned either.

Why Smartphone Security is Fundamentally Broken

By Ernest Worthman

Perhaps the most useful tool of the modern age is the smartphone. Nothing else has such a ubiquitous interconnect with just about everything we do and are. In many ways, this wireless device is the locus of our existence.

It isn’t necessary to elaborate on all of the functions the device is capable of. We are all aware of that. What is necessary is to drill down on the vulnerabilities of this device. This observation from Cisco kind of tells it all.

Cisco’s 2017 Mid-Year Cybersecurity Report notes that it has been warning about cyberthreats for years to alert defenders of the increasing sophistication of threats and the techniques that adversaries use to compromise users, steal information, and create disruption.

“With this latest report, however, we find we must raise our warning flag even higher,” the OEM said.

That is the global picture, and it paints a rather bleak landscape. But that same state of the global landscape can be layered on the smartphone segment.

There is a ton of discussion around smartphone security. I write about it a lot – it is that important. And I am also an advocate of hardware versus software implementation. That is because, in hardware, it is key-based and if properly implemented, eliminates the endless update cycle and provides excellent immunity to malware, ransomware and the like. Key (and token, if properly managed) are the best options for smartphone security, especially now, as the financial app landscape evolves in the smartphone segment.

There has been some movement by hardware manufacturers of late. Moreover, if one listens to them, smartphone security issues are moot. That is really far from the actual reality.

Take the case of the recent hack of Samsung’s Galaxy S8. The hack is performed by simply using a consumer-grade camera and a contact lens to fool the phone’s iris scanner. It has also been shown that it is possible to hijack a user’s smartphone if the hacker has the phone’s number, and use its camera and audio recording capabilities to spy on the user.

So, obviously, we are a long way from figuring out smartphone security and the present state of smartphone security really is broken.

Is There a Magic Bullet?

Going forward, however, there is a significant belief that Biometrics are considered the next level of security (and to some the permanent fix). Nevertheless, the ugly truth is that current consumer (and even some commercial) biometric apps are not that sophisticated (in terms of the complexity required to implement methodologies that have sufficient levels of verification). There are countless cases of fingerprint lifting and image reproduction using various methods, including the use of something as benign as gummy bears and rubber cement, and images and videos of faces. These have all been successfully used to fool biometric sensors.

On the horizon are much more sophisticated biometrics. Things like hand and face scanning (in combination or individually), blood vessel mapping, voice scans, facial thermography, DNA matching, odor sensing, blood pulse measurements, skin pattern recognition, nailbed identification, gait recognition, even ear shape recognition. And there are the more eclectic biometrics as well. Research has shown that individuals have distinct brain and heart patterns that are unique for each individual. This “futuristic” technology is more fraud-resistant than conventional biometrics such as fingerprints and retinal scans.

But beware. While biometrics may be the next coming thing, it isn’t foolproof. And, to be five-nines accurate requires a fair amount of processing power. Today’s smartphones are only beginning to have those kind of resources.

Even once these hardware resources are common, there is still the biggest faux pas of all – the user. Users are notorious for not being security diligent, especially on smartphones. And to be fair, having to use a complex verification metric every time you purchase a Starbucks can get tiring. So any biometric techniques must be user friendly. Plus, things like fingerprints and retinal scans are one of a kind and they cannot be changed if compromised.

So the smartphone security landscape has a “fur piece” to go. And it is complex. Solutions are available, but just because they exist, doesn’t mean they are practical or adoptable in their present, or future form.

How all of this will come together is a matter of great debate among a variety of entities. It will be a while before we have anywhere near a clear vision as to what will work, when and how. In the meantime, we need to focus on alternatives, especially hardware keys, and how to implement them in the vast sea of diverse products.

Ernest Worthman is the Executive Editor of Applied Wireless Technology and a Life Member of the IEEE. His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, and others.

M2M, Video to Drive Massive IP Traffic Increases by 2021: Cisco

June 13, 2017 —

Driven by M2M and video, global digital traffic will increase three-fold exceeding 3 zettabytes by 2021, placing substantial demands on IP networks, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Complete Forecast.

Top-level indicators include the projected increase in Internet users—from 3.3 to 4.6 billion or 58 percent of the global population, greater adoption of personal devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections—from 17.1 billion to 27.1 billion from 2016- 2021, average broadband speed advances—from 27.5 Mbps to 53.0 Mbps, and more video viewing—from 73 percent to 82 percent of total IP traffic.

For the first time in the 12 years of the forecast, M2M connections that support internet of things (IoT) applications are calculated to be more than half of the total 27.1 billion devices and connections and will account for five percent of global IP traffic by 2021.  IoT innovations in connected home, connected healthcare, smart cars/transportation and a host of other next-generation M2M services are driving this incremental growth—a 2.4-fold increase from 5.8 billion in 2016 to 13.7 billion by 2021.

With the rise of connected applications such as health monitors, medicine dispensers, and first-responder connectivity, the health care will be fastest-growing industry segment (30 percent CAGR). The connected car and connected cities applications will have the second-fastest growth (29 percent CAGRs respectively).

Video will continue to dominate IP traffic and overall internet traffic growth—representing 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2021, up from 67 percent in 2016. Globally, there will be nearly 1.9 billion internet video users (excluding mobile-only) by 2021, up from 1.4 billion in 2016. The world will reach three trillion internet video minutes per month by 2021, which is five million years of video per month, or about one million video minutes every second.

Emerging mediums such as live internet video will increase 15-fold and reach 13 percent of internet video traffic by 2021—meaning more streaming of TV apps and personal live streaming on social networks. While live streaming video is reshaping today’s online entertainment patterns, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are also gaining traction. By 2021, VR/AR traffic will increase 20-fold and represent one percent of global entertainment traffic.

·       Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 73 percent of Internet traffic by 2021

·       2021 Internet access percentages – Wi-Fi: 53 percent; cellular: 20 percent;  fixed: 27 percent

·       2016 Internet access percentages – Wi-Fi = 52 percent; cellular: 10 percent; fixed: 38 percent

·       Globally, total public W-Fi hotspots (including homes) will grow six-fold from 2016 to 2021 from 94 million in 2016 to 541.6 million by 2021.

The Cisco VNI Complete Forecast for 2016 to 2021 relies upon independent analyst forecasts and real-world network usage data. Upon this foundation are layered Cisco’s own estimates for global IP traffic and service adoption.

Enterprise Market Growing for Small Cells Infrastructure-as-a-Service

By J. Sharpe Smith — 

August 26, 2015 –Driven by increasing small cell deployments, the U.S. market for mobile cloud services will increase from almost $6 billion in 2014 to $12 billion in 2019 and will total $52.13 billion during the five-year period, according to a study produced by iGR and sponsored SpiderCloud Wireless, Cisco and Intel.

The firm also forecast that revenue from the adoption of services — such as mobile device management, unified communications, and mobile and PBX integration — will increase to more than $4 billion in 2019 from $91 million in 2015, a total of $7.2 billion during that period.

The study, entitled “The Potential for Small Cells Infrastructure-as-a-Service in the U.S.,” showed that IT managers in medium and large enterprises have a high level of awareness of enterprise small cells and a high degree of interest in deploying them to improve in-building cellular voice and data coverage and capacity, as well as upgrading Wi-Fi to a higher capacity standard such as 802.11ac.

“Building owners, not just their tenants, are increasingly aware that excellent indoor LTE coverage and capacity can be a major selling point,” the report said.

Enterprises demand a small cell solution that is, first and foremost, secure but is also easy to deploy with minimal capital expense upfront. The small cells must be neutral host to serve the communications needs of all employees and visitors.

“This may also include a future option where the mobile operator only provides access to their spectrum and the enterprise takes responsibility for providing the necessary network equipment and interface to the operator’s core network,” the report said.

While IT personnel prefer keeping managed services in-house, the study found strong interest in using small cells to provide connectivity to a host of managed services and functions, including context/location services, Wi-Fi as a service, policy services, firewall services, web filtering, mobile and PBX integration, mobile device management and unified communications.

“There is solid interest in having a small cell managed service, as more than 30 percent of IT managers in all company sizes indicated high levels of interest,” the report said.