No single company can hope to become the majority provider of goods and services for the burgeoning Internet of things (IoT). This applies even to IBM, the world's longest-living and most well-known IT vendor.
However, with partners at its side, IBM certainly plans to be on the short list of the largest go-to vendors that will develop, build and maintain goods and services for the IoT.
One of those key longtime partners, Persistent Systems, announced March 22 it is now using its own expertise in working directly with IBM's tools and services to speed engineering iteration and to integrate new specialized consulting services into Big Blue's Watson IoT platform.
The initiative is aimed at helping engineers integrate the coming massive amounts of data from IoT-connected devices into product development.
Adding Persistent Know-How to IBM Watson Platform
The alliance adds Persistent Systems' longtime expertise in continuous engineering, analytics and enterprise digital transformation into the IBM Watson IoT platform, which is a set of capabilities that learn from—and infuse intelligence into— the physical world. To do this, Persistent will use IBM's IoT Continuous Engineering tools, which are designed to help manufacturers create smart connected devices for the IoT.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Persistent has dedicated more than 1,000 of its engineers in the United States and India to IBM, the IBM Watson IoT Platform and IBM IoT Continuous Engineering solutions, CEO and founder Anand Deshpande told eWEEK.
"This is changing the business model for us significantly," Deshpande said. "Traditionally, we have been in the outsource-offshore business. This is an opportunity for us to work with IBM, build technology and go together to solve real problems that are important to customers.
"Most people talk about the IoT as being only sensors, but when you have devices that are going to need to upgrade themselves, they carry parameters, data and lots of other things,” he added. “This then becomes far more exciting than just being data streams that you measure."
Enterprise IT today is all about automating the continuous development of software, especially in mobile and IoT applications. This has been prompted by increasing demands for newer, better and faster applications. Nothing has impacted software development more than the advent of mobile, social, big data, IoT and cloud environments, where rapid development of apps is a must.
'Perfect Storm' for IoT Business
"IBM's business in the Internet of things is focused around helping clients realize the value of the information that is now being produced," Chris O'Connor, general manager of IBM Watson IoT products, told eWEEK. "The world now has the ability to use very cheap sensors and little computer chips they can put on all these devices. They have to ability to connect that information now in equally inexpensive fashion—whether that's protocols like Wi-Fi in a campus format, inexpensive cellphone cards and connections, or proprietary long-range, low-frequency capabilities.
"You can connect that sensor information and have it now be something that you can attach to,” he noted. “With the advent of worldwide public clouds over the last three or four years, we have a perfect storm of capabilities."
This "perfect storm" really frames IBM's IoT business, O'Connor said.
"This is because IBM isn't going to make the chips or the connections for the Internet of things, but we are going to sit at the edge of collecting all that data information, assist clients in designing complex engineering tasks that go along with how they make those products and distribute software to them, and analyze the information, the data and the capabilities that come up to it and organize it in business-affecting ways," O'Connor said.
Continuous Engineering Is Key to IoT Product/Services Success
Continuous engineering is critical to the continued development of IoT and its myriad devices. Companies such as Whirlpool, for example, have enlisted IBM's and Persistent's help in connecting its household appliances via the cloud to a central service center, alerting experts before key parts wear out and then passing the information to owners about the status of their appliances.
"We feel this is a huge differentiator for us, because this collaboration with IBM gives us unique access to the products and platforms that are crucial for designing, building, deploying and managing software across a range of devices or things—or what we call software-driven things," Deshpande said.
This alliance has the potential to add as much as 15 percent to 20 percent revenue to Persistent's FY16 numbers, with significant growth potential into the future, Deshpande said.
"Specific to this alliance, we will add about 500 people in the next year which will be a mix of experts coming over from IBM, our own employees, and new talent we will hire in markets," Deshpande said.