SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Get Ready for IoT by Taking 3 Essential Steps

by Oliver Schabenberger

To prepare for IoT, companies need to take advantage of big data and advanced analytics, and adapt their culture, so they are ready for the transformation.

In the early 1990s, the general public made its earliest forays into using the Internet. At the time, no one could have imagined where the IOT one photo shutterstock 468787469 A2technology would lead. Social media, e-commerce, mobile apps, cloud computing, software as a service -- the list is endless. Entire classes of applications -- even industries -- were not even a gleam in their creators' eyes. Today these internet-based technologies have transformed the way we live and work.

Fast-forward more than 25 years. We are at a similar stage in the latest iteration of the internet -- the Internet of Things (IoT). Pundits of all stripes predict that the IoT will change everything. Connected cars. Better patient monitoring devices. Industrial machines that track their own maintenance requirements. Intelligent street lights. Everything will be connected.

As with the original internet, we have no idea where the IoT will take us. And before we see the full impact of the predicted and unforeseen advances, we will need to remove significant technical obstacles, notably security and lack of standards.

Still, despite the roadblocks, companies that get ahead of the IoT curve will undoubtedly benefit from a lasting competitive advantage as they forge new markets. So what can your company do today to prepare for the future of IoT? The following are the top three best practices:

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IoT Possibilities in 2017

Internet of Things (IoT) is already impacting working and living environments with exciting trends. It has come a long way and 2017 looks promising for tweaked and heightened possibilities. Technology continues to make mass production cheaper, almost every electronic device is built to be wi-fi ready and IoT close to half of the world’s population now have access to the internet, compared to just 20% in 2007. As broadband internet becomes cheaper to connect and use, it is only fair to expect a tsunami of IoT from 2017. The concept of IoT is to connect every powered device to the internet; once it can be turned on and off, why not hook it up to the internet?

Imagine your alarm waking you up at 6:30 am and sending an instruction to your water heater to warm your bath water, and your coffee maker to start brewing. Imagine if your car could communicate parts which are due to be changed to a supplier and automatically schedule a date for replacement after interacting with your calendar to know when you will have the time. What about the possibility to have your printer place an order online for new supplies of paper and cartridges … the possibilities are endless. The kitchen is one area in the house where IoT can be optimize for efficiency to reduce waste and power consumption and this year will see a lot of focus accordingly.

Last year provided the opportunity for companies to build devices ready to take advantage of the IoT concept. CES 2016 showcased most of those devices; as the big companies and the known brands were flexing muscles, startups were also showcasing what the big companies were overlooking. Now there is internet and its penetration is unstoppable; let everything that can be connected be connected now! Apple and Google launched home products last year to connect lights, locks, thermostats and other home devices to the internet to enable them to be seamlessly controlled even away from home.

With the seamless connection of everyday useful items to the internet comes the concern on security and hacking. Last year, IoT took a nervous hit when reports suggested that Dyn, a cloud based internet performance management company which provides services to companies like Twitter and Netflix, was attacked. It was believed by experts that the attack was caused by Mirai bot, which scouted the internet for IoT devices with default usernames and passwords, using them for the attack. This partly prompted the release of the security framework of Industrial Internet Consortium. Hackers will not backdown on their malicious activities, but security will also be continually heightened. Nevertheless, a major security breach is probably just a click away.

IoT will not be limited to homes, offices and cars this year. Cities will also work effortlessly to have transportation, traffic, waste and energy management all coordinated with IoT. Q4 last year saw a lot of work to bring artificial intelligence to mobile. IoT will tap into those possibilities as well. Strategic alliances and collaborations will also be made by small and medium scale organizations to produce low cost items to increase patronage of IoT ready devices. This will ultimately set the right tone for a much bigger wave next year.

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What is Amazon Web Service? Features explained

Over the years when digital world has taken revolution, Cloud Computing has grown tremendously as a service. Today it is described as one remote service to store, process and manage information. Cloud Computing is management of vast set of information infrastructures. It is management of information tools, systems and architectures.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been a recognized Cloud service provider since 2007. It operates from 16 different host destinations providing exclusive Cloud service to global clients. It features On-demand Cloud, Elastic Cloud Computing, Simple Storage, Internet of things and much more in comprehensive Cloud Computing.

What is AWS and what are its salient features is matter of our discussion. We will elaborate on AWS basics to make Cloud users a slight more aware about AWS.

Cloud Computing

Simple Storage and AWS

Simple storage (S3) through AWS means a highly flexible and always available web storage service. It is a round the clock service to store major sets of information in optimum time. Using S3 gives good flexibility in accessing data to any assigned URL. S3 provides effective access control with resourceful data protection. Robust backup and expiration times are further notable features of S3. It is simple and indeed very convenient to use.

Elastic Cloud Computing and AWS

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a scalable technology that provides cloud computing to multiple virtual computers. Every virtual machine is assigned with an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) containing tools, infrastructure and any web service that is rented to machine’s user. For EC2 provision Amazon applies ‘Pay as you Go’ price model which means on-Demand computing service. EC2 caters and manages virtual machines that are provisioned independently and with frequent modifications. Instead of buying a conventional server during changing or unpredictable workload, EC2 is most preferred.

AWS

Internet of things (IoT) and AWS

Amazon IoT platform offers diverse and adaptive cloud computing, adapted by virtual user to connect their devices with cloud applications. Controlled interaction between devices is possible through AWS platform. IoT at AWS means organized exchange of messages between billions of devices at one time. Fast and effective exchange of trillions of messages is made possible through AWS IoT.

What have we Built

AWS IoT integrates with other devices for managing larger groups of data. It integrates with devices to build and organize IT infrastructures. For building web applications. AWS IoT effectively integrates with Amazon Dynamo, Amazon Machine Learning, S3 and Kinesis.

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Wiser Minds in IoT (Part II of II)

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO. SMB Nation - 

Last week I painted the IoT picture and enjoyed fantastic feedback. This week I share insights from wiser minds about IoT that I met at the recent AllSeen (www.allseenalliance.org) conference in Seattle.

I walked away from the annual gathering impressed with the momentum of IoT and wanted to learn more. Ergo my conversation with these two gentlemen below.

Greg Whelan is the principal of the Greywale Insights (http://greywale.com/) consultancy. What immediately struck me was how he wanted to pivot the conversation. It was like having an intellectual conversation with Jeff Middleton (sbsmigrations.com) back in the old Small Business Server days when he’d proclaim “let’s turn that argument on its head.” Whelan proposed we refine service providers as “outcome providers.” That’s how he sees the role of the MSP/computer guy in an IoT world. “Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) want OUTCOMES from a provider. IoT is a whole bucket of tools and services for the outcome provider to “provide” to SMBs.

“The outcome provider will have a role in helping IoT standardization. Currently it’s a DIY market without a set of standards. For example, you can’t utter “Good Night” today and have everything in the smart house respond such as lights, heat, and security.” Whelan shared. “The main point with today’s status is silos. The DIY can buy bits and pieces at Home Depot, Best Buy et al.”harrybiot edited

Whelan’s forward looking statements continued with thoughts concerning standardization. It’ll take web companies who can scale and the outcome provider will deliver agnostic services, not just a Google House or an Apple House.

Which leads to my second conversation about scaling. I spoke with Eric Bozich (Vice President – Product and Marketing CenturyLink). CenturyLink is a sponsor of AllSeen. Bozich’s interest is to provide elements of the IoT value chain that go beyond telecom. “One thing we’re asking ourselves is how our customers are going to consume IoT. IoT will be about solving business problems and consuming services. Bozich stated. “CenturyLink will add value by proactively participating in the development of IoT solutions.”

You heard it here first.

BTW – in my resources below, you can watch a video of Whelan and Bozic. ;0)

I’ll end my two-part series with this thought. If only Radio Shack could have held on! It was IoT before there was IoT. Readers will recall the demise of Radio Shack (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RadioShack). It could have been the IoT Store!

AllSeen Resources

Service Provider Panel Video, featuring Greg & Eric
AllSeen Alliance Events List
AllSeen Alliance Membership Tiers & Companies Participating
Full list of keynote presentations, slides and photos from the AllSeen Summit 2015

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Born Again – IoT Evangelist (Part I of II)

Story by Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

So where did I stray? I started my geek life as a young ham radio operator in Alaska. Yep – had to pass the test having memorized Morse code (kids won’t get that!). Then it was a software lifestyle and all that brought including a 15-year run with Small Business Server (SBS). All good.allseen seattle edited 1024

But lately, since the demise of SBS, myself and other SBSers have been lost in the wilderness, asking huge questions about the meaning of life and why are we here? We’ve lost a few brothers and systems along the way. But I’m here to say that I’ve been saved by the Internet of Things and you can too!

What led to my being saved by IoT? It was a simple email from Tcat. Many readers recall Tcat is a frequent SMB Nation speaker and author over the past ten years (“New Success Secrets” and “Success Teams”). But there’s more to the story. Tcat was on the original SBS development team in the mid/late-1990s at Microsoft Redmond and owned the early Internet Connection Wizard (ICW) that allowed you to select approved local ISPs for your (ekks) modem-based Internet connection. We become fast friends and have stayed in touch ever since. Tcat always seems to land on his feet whether he is living in Egypt, Mexico or Georgia (true stories).

Tcat’s email was simple. He was in Seattle at an IoT conference called AllSeen (hosted by the AllSeen Alliance). It was a next generation geekfest just a few blocks away and AllSeen had selected Seattle this year for its big show. So I strolled over at Tcat’s recommendation and obtained a press pass so I could attend and report back to my loyal readers.

Findings

Here is what I found.

• IoT is the next great thing with silly numbers ($1.9 trillion) in future economic impact.
• IoT is just starting. You can see it for yourself with disparate home electronics “parts” at HomeDepot that don’t talk to each other over a common standard.
• The show was, in my opinion, more enterprise players such as OEMs and service providers (e.g. large telecoms) trying to figure it all out.
• The IoT paradigm is being defined right now, so there is a spoils go to the early bird mentality (sign me up – early is good).
• We’re creating the IoT community as I write this. Think of this as 1998 in SBS-land when folks like Grey Lancaster started a SBS BBS (yikes…modem-based) inside a local school he served in South Carolina). This is your chance to say you were there at the start and I’d encourage you to look into the IoT-friendly trade association Electronics Technicians Association- International (ETA) [http://www.eta-i.org/] which has served as an above reproach accredited vendor-neutral entity since 1978. (More on ETA in a future blog). Seen in the pic below is Joe Maher from the ETA (center) and Tcat (right).

eta and tcat 1024

                                                        Enjoying networking after the Seattle AllSeen conference.

Community Correlations

So what’s it all mean for the stereotypical tired old male SBSer, who won’t sell anything (according to old school SMB vendors LOL)? It’s a second chance. Most SMB Nation readers were born as geeks and will be buried as geeks. This is your chance to be born again, return to your roots, get your geek on and tinker and toil on the next great thing. Welcome home!

PS – That cool chick in the cover pic? That’s Tenaya Hurst @LininoWoman at the Seattle AllSeen conference. She’s one of us!

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Check-in: Intel Channel Alliance

By Harry Brelsford, CEO, SMB Nation - 

SMB Nation was present with bells on at the October 7-8 Channel Alliance Summit led by Frank Raimondi, down in Portland at “The Farm.” We caught up with Intel Vice President Todd Garrigues, who carved out a few minutes to discuss the Intel Partner Program. “My focus is on North America.” Garrigues shared. “There is a strong focus on helping grow a healthy diverse channel. We’ll look to continue growth and activity in client/server, IOT, verticals and segments. And we’ll be promoting a focus on technology trends.”logo intel

For the record, there are two types of partners in North America (which Garrigues reported numbers 24,000 members of whom 4,000 are actively engaged). The two types are (1) System Builders and (2) Branded Resellers/VARs/MSPs that have a focus on branded goods.

One interesting area of conversation included specialties. Garrigues communicated that there is a specialty program that provided training and recognition in the following areas: Education, Internet of Things (IOT), and High Performance Computing (HPC).

We ended our chat with Garrigues offering words of encouragement to focus on verticals that can enable channel partners to be successful. One example is retail with an emphasis on digital signage and mobile point-of-sale (POS).

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