Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: CES 2016: The Business Gear

CES 2016: AT&T upgrades developer tools to woo businesses to Internet of Things

AT&T is also making use of its partnership with Salesforce, connecting M2X to the CRM giant's flagship Service Cloud.


LAS VEGAS---The Internet of Things might be a wonky phrase, but the technology and momentum continues to grow as the annual Consumer Electronics Show this week.

While the show floor will be flooded by thousands of small companies hawking IoT-fueled devices and apps with single use cases, the future of IoT depends on the network providers making these connections possible.

"It's the Industrial Revolution 2.0," quipped Ralph de la Vega, CEO and president of AT&T's Mobile & Business Solutions unit, at the telecommunications giant's annual Developer Summit on Tuesday morning.

AT&T reiterated in a new report published Monday that it expects 50 billion "things," or connected apps and hardware, to be linked up and sharing data from smartphones to traffic lights and beyond by 2020.

Chris Penrose, senior vice president for Internet of Things Solutions within the AT&T Mobility department, hinted that the sheer number alone of connected products could cause confusion with businesses and consumers alike.

"There's a lot of noise out there about the IoT. Our goal is to replace confusion with clarity," Penrose wrote in prepared remarks.

AT&T now covers approximately 3.5 million business customers across almost 200 countries, including nearly all of the Fortune 1000 firms globally.

Last year alone, AT&T signed 300 new deals catering to Internet of Things applications, linking up AT&T to roughly 25 million connected devices by the end of the third quarter of 2015.

AT&T got the ball rolling ahead of the official start of CES on Monday by trotting out a new collection of LTE modules designed for a variety of different workloads brought about because of IoT.

The nation's second largest mobile provider followed up with more updates for developer tools unveiled at last year's Developer Summit held amid CES, including its M2X Data Service for network-connected IoT devices and Flow Designer integrated, open source development environment.

Over the last year, AT&T boasted it made more than 400 improvements to the Data Service alone as it tracked 50,000 devices and 400 million data records stored in its cloud.

AT&T is also making use of its alliance with Salesforce, connecting M2X to the CRM giant's flagship Service Cloud for routing tickets through pre-built workflows. Developers are also directed to utilized the Salesforce-owned Heroku Platform-as-a-Service for building and deploying IoT apps.

The cloud-based Flow Designer is also now commercially available to business customers.

AT&T is also rolling out a new networking service in beta, dubbed Flow Edge, for supporting local processors on edge devices, like gateways and routers.

"M2X and Flow Designer are going to make a significant impact on the way we work and live in the future," De la Vega promised, opining about a world in which everything is connected, data analytics improve customer service and people's lives.


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