Keeping Tabs on Billions of Sensors

Michael Vizard

One of the challenges with the proliferation of sensors such as RFID tags is coming up with a practical tool for tracking all the data that comes streaming out these them. For example, IBM has rolled out an update to its InfoSphere Traceability Server that makes it easier to keep track of shipping containers, which comes on the heels of more sensitive sensors that were recently rolled out by Hewlett-Packard.


As the number and sophistication of sensors being deployed to keep tabs on everything from packaged goods to hospital patients increases, IT organizations are being asked to streamline this information into a digestible format that organizations can then use to optimize business processes. For example by the end of next year, IBM expects that there will be more than 6 billion sensors transmitting data in real time deployed across various vertical industry applications.


Companies such as IBM, SAP, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola and others are jostling for position to become the dominant IT solution for collecting, analyzing and processing all this data as part of a general effort to leverage a new generation of embedded systems technology to keep track of physical business processes.


And now we're seeing companies such as Axeda, which makes software that helps IT organizations remotely manage embedded systems, partnering with providers of satellite networks such as ORBCOMM to integrate with sensors and other systems located in remote areas that don't have access to cellular networks.


All this focus on sensors eventually will lead to the instrumentation of every known process, which in turn creates a lot of opportunity for the IT department to add value. The only question is: Will the IT systems really be up to the task of processing all that data?



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