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1 December 2016

AWS and HPE chase IoT into the clouds, and closer to the edge

AWS and HPE have both unleashed a torrent of cloud announcements this week, both aiming to carve up large slices of new IoT business for their platforms. For HPE, this is another part of its corporate restructuring, following HP’s split into two companies, and for Amazon, its Greengrass announcement is a push to move from the cloud (where it seems to power just about every company we speak to) to the network-edge.

Kicking off with the AWS announcements, Amazon used its re:Invent tradeshow to unveil a plethora of new features aimed at expanding its AWS Partner Network (APN). The three new APN programs target service delivery, public sector, and VMware Cloud on AWS.

Amazon also announced that its AWS marketplace has reached more than 3,500 listings from 1,100 independent software vendors (ISVs), and that over 10,000 new partners have joined the APN in the past year. The Marketplace now accounts for over 300m hours per month of Amazon’s EC2 services.

While those partner programs are aimed at increasing the number of AWS customers for Amazon, and many of those new customers and projects are going to be IoT-focused, AWS also announced an IoT Competency program, as well as a Financial Services competency too.

The competency certificate is basically a stamp of approval from AWS, with Amazon declaring that those with the cert have demonstrated technical proficiency and customer success. The first wave of certified APN members for the IoT include: Accenture, Amdocs, Aricent, Asavie, Bsquare, C3 IoT, Cloud Technology Partners, Eseye, Intel, Luxoft, MachineShop, Microchip Technology, Mobiquity, PTC (ThingWorx), Solstice, SORACOM, Splunk, Sturdy Networks, Thinglogix, and Trek10.

Qualcomm has announced itself as one of the first supporters of Amazon’s new AWS Greengrass platform, which takes the AWS IoT and Lambda capabilities in the cloud and packages them in a way that can be run on devices at the network-edge – on both gateways and regular connected devices, running on ARM and x86 devices that run Ubuntu or Amazon Linux. This could be a pretty big project for Canonical, as it expands its Ubuntu presence from its foothold in the cloud towards the network-edge.

Greengrass uses the same programming model as AWS in the cloud, and is being pushed as a way to provide local and cloud storage, as well as the messaging and application platform needed for IoT devices that have internet connectivity constraints. Qualcomm is already running demos of Greengrass on its Dragonboard 410c dev-kit, illustrating that Greengrass is geared towards microprocessor architectures, and not just the gigantic Intel Xeons it uses in its cloud servers.

Also unveiled were three new AI services, Lex (conversational user experiences), Polly (text to speech), and Rekognition (deep learning image recognition), as well as new FPGA and GPU options for customers looking to add power to their instances.

HPE – selling OpenStack, teaming with Nokia, expanding UIoT:

As for HPE, the big news is the launch of its newly enhanced Universal IoT Platform UIoT), as well as the HPE Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE). Both are aimed at letting customers achieve economies of scale in massive IoT deployments over wide are networks, with MVNE catering more towards the GSMA-cellular ecosystem, and UIoT targeted more at unlicensed LPWAN offerings.

With MVNE, HPE believes its platform will enable the emergence of MVNOs that will resell IoT connectivity on top its service. It also seems to be aimed at the telcos that are considering expanding into IoT applications and services, which would ideally use HPE as the foundation for these expansions.

For UIoT, which is compatible with the oneM2M interoperability standards framework (and it’s lightweight LWM2M variant), HPE is trying to create a platform that supports the hybrid and multi-standard environments that are often found in IoT deployments. It name-drops LoRa (with improved support) and Sigfox, as well as GSMA cellular standards, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

HPE also announced that its Aruba division has launched the new ClearPass Universal Profiler (software), as well as the Aruba 2540 Series Switches (Ethernet network switch), which will apparently better identify and track IoT devices as they connect to an IoT network – with HPE positioning its Edgeline gateways as an ideal medium for connecting those IoT devices out in the field.

Elsewhere in HPE’s announcements, Nokia has partnered with HPE, announcing a new strategic collaboration that will target smart city and industrial/manufacturing customers with an integrated end-to-end offering – combining Nokia’s networking expertise with HPE’s cloud and server products, as well as its network-edge gateways.

Also this week, in a somewhat complicated deal, HPE has sold its OpenStack staff and technology assets to SUSE, a Linux software provider that is owned by Micro Focus – a company that HPE recently sold most of its non-core software assets (including the infamous Autonomy) to a couple of months ago for $8.8bn.

So SUSE is now acquiring OpenStack IaaS and Cloud Foundry PaaS assets, as well as being named as the preferred open source partner for Linux – a pretty big win for SUSE, beating out rivals Red Hat and Canonical, and securing it as central to HPE’s Linux and cloud development.

In a way, HPE is continuing its outsourcing and layoff strategy of late, by offloading that work to SUSE – and in return, SUSE gets to be the OEM choice for HPE’s Helion OpenStack and Stackato products.