Cisco routers are about to get a big upgrade, thanks to an agreement with IBM to add its Watson Internet of Things (IoT) business analytics technology to the hardware. The global partnership will allow organizations in remote locations to access IBM’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology without having to upload heavy data sets to the cloud, the companies said.
“The way we experience and interact with the physical world is being transformed by the power of cloud computing and the Internet of Things,” said Harriet Green, general manager for IBM Watson IoT, Commerce & Education, in a statement. “For an oil rig in a remote location or a factory where critical decisions have to be taken immediately, uploading all data to the cloud is not always the best option."
Together, IBM and Cisco are taking these IoT technologies the last mile, "extending Watson IoT from the cloud to the edge of computer networks, helping to make these strong analytics capabilities available virtually everywhere, always," she said.
Focus Shifting to IoT and Cloud Technologies
IBM has been shifting its focus to cloud services, analytics, IoT and the Watson AI platform and away from the stagnating PC business. While cloud services are a good option for devices and sites with strong locations to the grid, accessing cloud-delivered services is more difficult from more remote locations, or via autonomous devices that lack strong Internet connections.
Under the new agreement, IBM’s Watson technologies will be installed on Cisco’s edge routers, allowing devices in remote locations to perform sophisticated analytics at the point of data collection, rather than having to upload massive amounts of data. IBM said the technology would be particularly beneficial to companies operating on oil rigs, in mines, factories, shipping centers, or other remote areas.
The Edge of the Network
“With the vast amount of data being created at the edge of the network, using existing Cisco infrastructure to perform streaming analytics is the perfect way to cost-effectively obtain real-time insights,” said Mala Anand, senior vice president of the Cisco Data & Analytics Platforms Group, in the statement. The technology will provide customers with the flexibility to combine edge processing with the cognitive computing abilities of the IBM Watson IoT Platform, Anand said.
For example, IBM said that a company with employees who have to monitor the health and behavior of critical machinery in remote environments would benefit from the technology. The combination of the Watson IoT platform and Cisco’s edge analytics will allow such an organization to more accurately plan for necessary maintenance and equipment upgrades.
Access to the Watson platform could enable more companies to adopt condition-based maintenance practices, in which equipment is monitored in real-time. Condition-based maintenance could potentially help reduce maintenance costs by up to 50 percent and increase productivity by 25 percent, according to IBM.