Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

IBM launches IoT edge computing for 5G era

Steve Rogerson
May 6, 2020



IBM and its subsidiary Red Hat have launched edge computing offerings for the 5G era that pave the way for enterprises and telcos to deploy and manage AI, IoT and analytics workloads at the edge.
 
At this week’s Think Digital conference, IBM announced the services backed by a broad ecosystem of partners to help enterprises and telecommunications companies speed their transition to edge computing in the 5G era.
 
This effort combines IBM's experience and expertise in multi-cloud environments with Red Hat's open source technology, which became part of IBM last year in one of the biggest tech acquisitions.
 
With these edge services, enterprises will be able to tap into the potential of 5G to support crucial uses such as emergency response, robotic surgery or connected-vehicle safety features that benefit from the few milliseconds latency saved by not having to send workloads to a centralised cloud.
 
The offerings run on Red Hat OpenShift, an enterprise Kubernetes platform that runs everywhere from the data centre to multiple public clouds to the edge. They enable enterprises to overcome the complexity of managing workloads across a massive volume of devices from different vendors and provide telcos the agility they need to deliver edge-enabled services to customers.
 
"In today's uncertain environment, our clients are looking to differentiate themselves by creating more innovative, responsive user experiences that are adaptive and continuously available from the data centre all the way out to the edge," said Denis Kennelly, general manager for IBM Hybrid Cloud. "IBM is helping clients unlock the full potential of edge computing and 5G with hybrid multi-cloud offerings that bring together Red Hat OpenShift and our industry expertise to address enterprise needs in a way no other company can."
 
The services should help industries realise the benefits of edge computing, including running AI and analytics at the edge to achieve insights closer to where the work is done.
 
The IBM Edge Application Manager is an autonomous management product to enable AI, analytics and IoT enterprise workloads to be deployed and remotely managed, delivering real-time analysis and insight at scale. It enables the management of up to 10,000 edge nodes simultaneously by a single administrator. And it is powered by an open source project, Open Horizon, created by IBM engineers designed to enable a single person to manage such a vast network of edge devices securely.
 
The IBM Telco Network Cloud Manager runs on OpenShift to deliver intelligent automation capabilities to orchestrate virtual and container network functions in minutes. Service providers will have the ability to manage workloads on both Red Hat OpenShift and OpenStack platforms, which could be critical as telcos increasingly look for ways to modernise their networks for greater agility and efficiency, and to provide services today and as 5G adoption expands.
 
A portfolio of edge-enabled applications and services – including IBM Visual Insights, Production Optimization, Connected Manufacturing, Asset Optimization, Maximo Worker Insights and Visual Inspector – offer features to give users the flexibility to deploy AI and cognitive applications and services at scale.
 
In addition, IBM is announcing the IBM Edge Ecosystem, through which an increasingly broad set of ISVs, GSIs and more will be helping enterprises capture the opportunities of edge computing with various products built on IBM's technology. IBM is also creating a telco network cloud ecosystem, bringing together a set of partners across the telecommunications industry that offer a breadth of network functionality that helps providers deploy their network cloud platforms. 
 
These open ecosystems of equipment manufacturers, networking and IT providers and software providers include Cisco, Dell Technologies, Juniper Networks, Intel, Nvidia, Samsung, Packet, Hazelcast, Sysdig, Turbonomic, Portworx, Humio, Indra Minsait, Eurotech, Arrow Electronics, Adlink, Acromove, Geniatech, SmartCone, CloudHedge, Altiostar, Metaswitch, F5 Networks and ADVA as members.
 
“We appreciate the possibility to extend our long lasting collaboration with IBM, joining an ecosystem to effectively enable vital enterprise technology like advanced analytics at the edge, in the world of operational technologies,” said Robert Andres, chief strategy officer at Eurotech. “The integration of IBM Cloud Pak for Data to build and train analytics models that IBM Edge Application Manager can deploy onto Eurotech’s edge computing hardware, including our high-performance edge computers, significantly lowers the barrier of entry for customers that need to leverage computational power for AI and analytics applications in challenging environments.”
 
Vodafone Business is working with IBM to help improve worker safety and productivity in remote locations such as oil rigs, factories, warehouses, ports and mines. Combining Vodafone mobile private networks, IBM Edge Application Manager and Red Hat OpenShift, this uses sensors, AI, and predictive and video analytics to understand and respond to incidents in milliseconds, keeping workers safe.
 
"At Vodafone Business, our primary focus is keeping our customers and their employees connected and safe, whether remote working or working from remote locations," said Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business. “Vodafone mobile private networks, IBM edge computing and AI technologies enable companies to oversee operations even in the most remote locations, where rapid action can mean the difference between a near miss and a disaster.”

IBM also unveiled AI designed to help CIOs automate IT operations for more resiliency and lower costs. Watson AIOps and a host of product updates are designed to bring automation to IT infrastructures for greater control, efficiency and business continuity.

Built on OpenShift, Watson AIOps runs across any cloud and works in collaboration with an ecosystem of partners, including Slack and Box. 

"The greatest challenge for organisations is one of alignment," said Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. “Slack is most valuable when it integrates tightly with the other tools customers use every day, bringing critical business information into channels where it can be collaborated on by teams. By using Slack with Watson AIOps, IT operators can effectively collaborate on incident solutions, allowing them to spend critical time solving problems rather than identifying them."
 
Watson AIOps lets organisations introduce automation at the infrastructure level and is designed to help CIOs better predict and shape future outcomes, focus resources on higher-value work and build more responsive and intelligent networks that can stay up and running longer.
 
As part of the rollout, IBM is also announcing the Accelerator for Application Modernization with AI, within IBM's cloud modernisation service. This capability is designed to help clients reduce the overall effort and costs associated with application modernisation.
 
It provides a series of tools designed to optimise the end-to-end modernisation journey, accelerating the analysis and recommendations for various architectural and microservices options. The accelerator leverages continuous learning and interpretable AI models to adapt to the user's preferred software engineering practices and stays up-to-date with the evolution of technology and platforms.
 
"What we've learned from companies all over the world is that there are three major factors that will determine the success of AI in business – language, automation and trust," said Rob Thomas, senior vice president at IBM. "The Covid-19 crisis and increased demand for remote work capabilities are driving the need for AI automation at an unprecedented rate and pace. With automation, we are empowering next generation CIOs and their teams to prioritise the crucial work of today's digital enterprises – managing and mining data to apply predictive insights that help lead to more impactful business results and lower cost."