With the news that Harman is coming to the VMware Internet of Things (IoT) party with a goodie bag of sensors, edge analytics and more, it sounds like the operational layer just got some new algorithmic power.
Self-styled ‘connected technologies’ company Harman has joined VMware’s list of IoT-centric alliance partners. As a significant player in the cloud virtualization and infrastructure market, VMware has previous forged IoT pacts with the likes of Dell, Bayshore Networks, Deloitte Digital, PTC and V5 Systems.
Samsung-owned Harman offers capabilities in gateways and sensors, edge analytics and over-the-air (OTA) technologies. VMware, for its part, can offer a level of IT operational management (the end-to-end sort, obviously) as well as its own ‘edge’ computing solutions.
Deploy, secure, manage & monitor
The two companies say that they address a number of IoT markets, including the retail, building management, automotive and energy efficiency industries. Essentially this is a ‘deploy, secure, manage and monitor’ play, meaning that Harman will plug its OTA software into VMware’s stack so that its real know-how (which lies in intelligence such as vibration-monitoring analytical algorithms, for example) can be used at a more formal enterprise level in industry-specific IoT use cases.
In specific product-name terms, this new union means a connection between Harman’s OTA update software and the VMware vCloud NFV platform, plus the VMware IoT operational management layer.
OT meets IT for IoT
“While businesses look to adopt IoT into their organizations, efficient management and security is necessary for IoT to reach enterprise grade and scale,” said Mimi Spier, vice president and head of business development, go-to-market strategy and marketing for IoT at VMware.
“Through our collaboration with Harman, we are working to bridge the gap between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), helping companies across many industries maximize the full potential of IoT through seamless integration with their IT infrastructure.”
At the recent Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Harman worked with VMware and ‘mobile packet core’ company Athonet to showcase a live connected car scenario. Elements of Athonet’s so-called ‘softwarized’ mobile core were disaggregated and deployed with VMware vCloud NFV to the dashboard of a car running a video entertainment framework.
Softwarization, made simple
In less technical terms, this is all about building cloud computing datacenters with network connections, components and mechanics that are inherently software based.
When we create a network with virtual (that is, software-based) functions, we might use the term Network Function Virtualization, which is why you see VMware use the term NFV in its product set.
Softwarization then, is software-defining a network, such that the actual nature of it is ‘abstracted’ away from physical hard disks and backplanes.
The reason that organisations might want to be able to create a so-called ‘disaggregated core’ for IoT data to run is that networks are typically broken out into three elements: the data plane, the control plane and the management plane. Each plane has a different job to do and carries different types of data packets.
When they can abstract, software-define and disaggregate how data behaves and how computing happens in the IoT, then they can do more with it when it is out on the ‘edge’, meaning on or near the device itself.
When this all works, then they get ultra-low latency high-bandwidth applications – but these might also be digital car features that work really well when the vehicle is on the move.
The combination of VMware and Harman could enable cloud service providers to launch services through a fully virtualized mobile core network with prioritized connectivity for specific features such as emergency calling, communication and video conferencing and infotainment.