Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication over IP Next-Generation Networks (IP NGNs) presents new opportunities and challenges in combination with cloud-based services. This document describes:
• How the IP NGN infrastructure for M2M will incorporate cloud services
• Architecture developed to address the opportunities and challenges
• Operational and organizational changes that promote full capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx) efficiencies
Next-Generation M2M Services
IP-based broadband wireless networks are the catalyst for M2M services innovation as operators move to open-access platforms, networks, and policies. The rapid pace of services growth deriving from the Internet continues unabated, forcing continual reassessment of how business is conducted. Operators today are being forced to rethink their business models. Marginally performing media services and fluid advanced technologies for Web 2.0 businesses are at the core of these considerations. As operators reevaluate strategies, open access networks will help them identify hidden growth opportunities in core subscriber services. A prime benefit of these new strategies is the accelerated innovation that will take place in M2M services.
M2M services will create incremental revenue opportunities as the price of cellular modules continues to decrease. Figure 1 illustrates how a service provider with a 10 percent market share in North America is able to increase net present value (NPV) by providing value-added services such as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), remote surveillance, and telehealth. These new monetization opportunities prompt the adoption of a harmonized M2M infrastructure capable of supporting multiple applications.
Figure 1. Next-Generation M2M Services: Enhanced Capability for Premium Services
Like the electric industry, which began its history more than a century ago, wireless network operators have yet to realize the full potential of their communication infrastructure assets. Unforeseen innovations will be developed, giant organizations will fall, changes will occur, and fortunes will be made. Throughout, we can expect to use the story of this industry as a future analogy of success through bold moves in changing times. The first wave of low-end devices that used second-generation (2G) connectivity introduced operators to M2M services. However, such applications were low-revenue opportunities with high CapEx investment. With the huge increase in use of video-based applications (see the Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast), operators can now take M2M services to the second stage of growth - the transition stage - by working more closely with the M2M industry to identify new business models for consumer M2M services that complement handset offerings.
Service providers who wish to monetize current and future network deployments for M2M communication would do well to keep their focus on the following.
• Maximize the connectivity business (self-owned or through partnerships): M2M communication provides an opportunity for service providers to extend their role beyond providing bit transport, and target the needs of businesses and smart-connected homes. Following the existing paradigms, performance metrics, and service development processes will ensure opportunity loss. It is time to embrace the unknown and explore all possibilities.
• Increase operational efficiency and reduce costs: Networks are evolving and converging, increasing the demands for operational efficiency. A converged (standardized) M2M network and management solutions adhering to regulatory frameworks will help providers to simplify operations.
• Accept new business models: M2M communication and cloud services delivery make it possible to adopt what are generally considered nontraditional or nontelecom-centric business processes.
• Open your networks: Supporting an open network policy is a starting point. Consider the benefits of working with competitors to establish Internetwork billing schemes, security features, and service assurance through cloud infrastructures.
• Collaborate with M2M industry participants: Channel and technology partners will provide the required perspective to help ensure priorities are properly ordered and have the power to support your strategic and technical capabilities.
• Work directly with (nonhandset) original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), but be flexible: Business models, market dynamics, channels, and capital structures can significantly differ by industry. Foster innovation; don't introduce impediments.
• Adapt to different types of local networks: For maximum monetization, service providers should try to include different types of local area networks that may be used by M2M devices.
Deploying an M2M Solution: OEM Perspective
A service provider that wants to be able to offer a M2M solution and differentiate its offering has to think about the customer's customer. Let us consider a typical OEM provider (see Figure 2) who uses M2M to enhance after-sales service to the customer. An OEM provider can be broadly classified as a OEM telematics provider (for example, General Motor's OnStar Service in North America) or a device provider such as an e-reader or tablet manufacturer. Typically, the addition of a new technology component involves CapEx in launching the technology, followed by OpEx to develop next-generation analytics and business process to monetize the technology.
The resulting solution is determined using sensors, radio frequency identification (RFID) devices, and data mining to capture data on a customer's assets, identity, or status that can indicate an anomaly that may be a business opportunity or threat. The solution is then combined with business intelligence and analytical tools to evaluate whether to act or ignore the anomaly. A specific set of ruled engine and workflow identity reviews specify an automatic or human course of action to respond to the anomaly, using links to initiate actions to mitigate the threat or capture the opportunity.
Embedded mobile technology could improve customer relationship management. The mobile channel could provide a useful feedback loop to the manufacturer. Beta testers of a new product could send feedback using this channel. Vehicle owners - who traditionally only have a relationship with the dealer - would then have a means to communicate directly with the manufacturer. OEMs could also use embedded mobile technology to improve service quality. Manufacturers of high-value machinery, for instance, could embed mobile communications that support remote diagnosis and maintenance. This would reduce the machinery's down time.
Mobile technology could change the way a product can be used, thus increasing its potential target market. For example, medical equipment with embedded mobile technology could leave its traditional territory of the hospital and move into the home, with the integrated communications capability allowing physicians to monitor the patient remotely. Finally, OEMs could boost their revenue by offering value-added services that use the mobile communication link.
Thus, to take full advantage of an M2M opportunity, the OEM has to achieve a synergy between the M2M network and its own IT or business portfolio. A service provider who wants to sell such a solution has to reflect this synergy on a larger scale.
Figure 2. OEM Smart Solution Introduction Through M2M
Machine-to-Machine IP NGN Infrastructure
Figure 3 summarizes the next-generation M2M infrastructure, integrated across the cloud, network, and edge devices.
Figure 3. Next-Generation M2M Infrastructure
The M2M infrastructure includes three primary domains: cloud, network, and edge devices. Each of these domains contains a specific anchor point which conducts the M2M signaling across the infrastructure. The M2M traffic has its own specific characteristics, such as low mobility and offline and online data transmission, which create new challenges for dimensioning the network. Service providers that are trying to customize their networks face the additional challenge of supporting traffic generated from residential and enterprise customer premises equipment (CPE).
Current customized M2M solutions and platforms tend to assume direct connectivity between the M2M core and devices, with no aggregators. However, linking residential and enterprise M2M gateways to an M2M-ready core opens new business models for service providers. M2M gateways can be bypassed when necessary.
Several transport layer optimizations have been proposed within 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards, which include:
• Dimensioning for online and offline small data transmission
• Low-mobility device signaling
• Network-initiated M2M device trigger
• Network-initiated time-control
• M2M monitoring
• M2M network signaling congestion control
• Support of IPv6 devices (accelerated growth of IPv6 endpoints will be an asset for M2M communication)
The M2M gateways have finite resources (fixed hardware, software, and firmware capabilities). Their responsibilities may include storage of information related to M2M devices, M2M applications, registry, policy, security, management of M2M devices, local network selection, and Lawful Intercept (regulatory) requirements. The gateways are also tasked with supporting service implementation on behalf of service providers.
To allow such dynamic distribution of run-time resources, a new mechanism has to be defined at each of the anchor points (CPE, service provider packet core infrastructure, and cloud service peering point). This mechanism will provide the opportunity to offer innovative services, which may employ a Cisco packet core and a Cisco CPE offering.
Value of M2M, IP NGN, and Cloud Synergy
Cloud-based and M2M computing are perhaps the two most powerful trends in the telecom and IT industries today, and to link them a service layer solution must be developed. Figure 4 illustrates an example of an M2M service overlay based on Cisco Unfied Computing System (UCS) architecture and IP NGN components.
Figure 4. M2M Convergence Feature Set: Platform Features Solve Service Provider's Problems
Hierarchical M2M Architecture
A hierarchical architecture supports efficient bandwidth and spectrum management. It also provides a scalable infrastructure with enhanced security (security-trusted environment) and media mobility. The M2M gateways are able to process the service requests without invoking the wireless infrastructure. This capacity allows efficient management of underlying devices, with security and network selection based on the nature of the M2M application.
Traffic Optimization for M2M
The M2M traffic of tomorrow will consist of a wide variety of applications with different data rates and throughput. Dimensioning the network for such traffic characteristics will prove challenging. To meet such diverse traffic requirements, grouping of devices, local device subscription, and service awareness will be necessary. Peering point routers can be made M2M service-aware to channel traffic more efficiently; for example, telehealth traffic may be prioritized over smart metering application traffic.
Development of a set of APIs according to service provider requirements will allow service providers to differentiate their services from those of their competition. This supports new business models for monetizing the network. Custom APIs also include development of software and services designed to help mobile network operators (MNOs), mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), and their enterprise customers to deploy M2M applications over cellular networks as easily as over wireline networks.
Integration into Service Provider IT and Business Processes
The Cisco UCS environment is built into leading-edge server platforms that are fully integrated with a virtual-machine-aware networking capability. This environment provides a fully integrated, pre-engineered solution for service providers, which is optimized to deliver the benefits of virtualization across the entire data center. The adoption of M2M services depends on software and services that allow application developers to build and deploy M2M applications without having to modify features and functionality common across many diverse M2M applications. Data and object modeling processes, along with rules engines crafted for mobile traffic, can be adapted for M2M traffic and hosted on the same data center platform.
M2M Service Delivery Platform
A service delivery platform allows service providers to perform network and device management remotely. The implementation of troubleshooting capabilities is achieved through continuous data collection through remote diagnostics. New flexible billing models must be developed over the enhanced user interface to determine the traffic generated. Service providers may choose to pursue a variety of different business models such as coseller agreements or value-added reseller agreements to monetize their network resources. Such service delivery can be hosted on the existing network data center, eliminating the need for disparate platforms.
The service provider of tomorrow will face many challenges. Expanding the scope of business beyond traditional mobile Internet services requires different models for enterprise and residential environments. With the transformation of IT services, it is reasonable to expect enterprises to have private clouds that can be linked to the service provider's public cloud. Connected residential gateways will run a "thin client" that interacts with service provider cloud. This is similar to the Cisco WebEx® solution. The same base technologies allow M2M and cloud services to be provided over the same network infrastructure. This allows applications such as telematics, utilities, telehealth, and financial services, with varying levels of quality of service (QoS), to be provided with the service-level agreements (SLAs) required by these applications, while making the most efficient use of network resources.
The ability to identify and aggregate resources supports greater reach to customers and new markets. Locating such resources and optimizing the service quality of experience are equally important. This is of particular relevance for high-QoS M2M applications based on exchange of multimedia content. Allowing clients to access applications in a secure manner delivers greater savings in operational costs.
M2M solutions access and transfer data across many different types of networks, including wireline or cellular wireless networks, licensed radio networks, and satellite solutions. In addition, most communication service providers worldwide have deployed IP networks at a national and international level. The ubiquitous availability of third-generation (3G) wireless networks in mature markets makes it possible to deploy M2M solutions at local as well as national and international levels. Each type of network has associated benefits and challenges that must be considered relative to security issues, installation costs, and reliability. For example, wireless LAN and ZigBee solutions are suited for supply chain applications, while wireless WAN (for example, cellular and satellite) solutions are ideal for supporting real-time fleet management and monitoring of mobile assets, including ship containers or railroad cars.
Achieving synergy between M2M infrastructure and cloud-based services has three main benefits:
• Reduced total cost of ownership:
– Simplifies value chain, implying higher revenues for service providers
– Helps service providers to become end-to-end M2M solution providers
• Increased business agility:
– Provisions applications in minutes instead of days
– Reduces service outages through automation
– Includes just-in-time resource provisioning
– Provides faster time to market
• Protection for investments:
– Based on industry standards
– Supports additional services
– Coexists with existing data center infrastructure
– Uses existing management applications through APIs
For More Information
The ubiquitous availability of third-generation (3G) wireless networks "and upcoming 4G LTE networks" in mature markets makes it possible to deploy M2M solutions at local as well as national and international levels. For more information on developing M2M communications in convergence with cloud services, contact your local Cisco representative or visit www.cisco.com/go/m2m. Questions can be sent to: email@example.com.