IBM Open-Sources Quarks IoT Service to Its Own Gain

Observers say while IBM open-sources its Quarks IoT analytics technology, the move may best serve IBM's own systems, services and software needs.

Internet of Things

IBM this week announced it was open-sourcing Quarks, a very interesting technology that enables organizations to analyze Internet of things (IoT) data locally, on gateways or at edge devices.

According to IBM, it is far more costly and time consuming to extract meaning from IoT data by transmitting over a network and then analyzing it via a centralized application, than to do the analysis at the edge.

However, working in conjunction with centralized analytic systems, Quarks enables a common streaming analytic model across different kinds of devices using familiar tools, IBM said on a web page describing the technology. It runs locally analyzing the continuous streams of data coming from equipment, vehicles, systems, appliances, and sensors of all kinds, IBM said.

Quarks is an open source programming model and runtime for edge devices that enables users to analyze data and events at the device. By doing analysis at the edge, you can reduce the amount of data that you transmit to your analytics server as well as reduce the amount of data that you store.

A Quarks application uses analytics to determine when data needs to be sent to a back-end system for further analysis, action, or storage. For example, you can use Quarks to determine whether a system is running outside of normal parameters, such as an engine that is running too hot, the Quarks website said.

Moreover, Quarks enables you to shift from sending a continuous flow of trivial data to the server to sending only essential and meaningful data as it occurs. This is especially important when the cost of communication is high, such as when using a cellular network to transmit data, or when bandwidth is limited, the website said.

Quarks can be embedded in gateways and devices and can be used in conjunction with vendor and open-source data and analytics solutions such as Apache Kafka, Spark and Storm. Quarks is API driven and modular.

“This builds on a long-running strength that IBM has had since it bought Rational many years ago, namely a focus on the ecosystem of device developers and ISVs,” Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, told eWEEK. “We are seeing many major players make a play for the IoT developer, which is proving a hot area as we march faster and faster towards the digital world. We have seen interesting solutions from many players like Cisco, Salesforce and Microsoft around processing IoT data. What IBM can do really well is connect the world of devices with the world of data and cognitive processing in unique ways and bring that technology to its digitally transforming clients.”