Nokia announces horizontal IoT platform called Impact

The Finnish company says its expertise in consumer networks will help create efficiencies for enterprise and government customers.

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With the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices set to explode in the next decade, Nokia is using its expertise in networking and efficiencies to roll out a horizontal IoT platform.

Dubbed IMPACT (Intelligent Management Platform for All Connected Things), the platform handles every aspect of machine-to-machine (M2M) connections -- data collection, event processing, device management, data contextualization, data analytics, end-to-end security and applications enablement -- for any device, any protocol, and across any application.

The number of M2M connections could grow to 12.2 billion by 2020, spanning a wide range of devices and industries, like smart meters, video surveillance, healthcare monitoring, transportation, and package or asset tracking.

But "ultimately, a lot of these use cases only start to make sense if you can get the security, scability and cost right," said Frank Ploumen, Nokia's IoT product strategy director. "That obviously demands these common infrastructure components are very, very efficient."

Coming from a background where efficiency is already addressed gives Nokia an advantage, he said.

The IMPACT platform is modular in its approach, Ploumen said, allowing entities to "mix and match" services like device management or analytics, depending on what third-party components they may already use. It also includes a new edition of Nokia's Motive Connected Device Platform (CDP), which supports more than 80,000 device/sensor models and already has connected and managed more than 1.5 billion devices.

Nokia has been in a rocky transitional period since its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent in April last year, slashing jobs and reporting a loss of €613 million for the first quarter of 2016. However, the deal has allowed the company to focus on more forward-looking revenue streams like IoT. In April, Nokia announced its plans to acquire wearable and health-monitoring company Withings, adding to Nokia's portfolio in one of the fastest-growing IoT segments.

While Nokia is cultivating a vertically-integrated business like Withings, its launch of Impact looks to scenarios in which enterprises, service providers and government agencies will want to integrate more than just one IoT offering with one another, across different business silos.

For instance, as cities across the globe launch "smart city" initiatives, they're often focused on solutions for specific agencies or issues -- like traffic management, or police enforcement. But that siloed approach, often driven by regulatory requirements, can slow down smart city initiatives, Ploumen said. San Francisco's experiment with smart parking meters demonstrated how IoT technologies should be considered holistically -- the meters not only influenced parking patterns but also created efficiencies for the public bus system.

Nokia's impact aims to make those efficiencies possible while addressing the challenges of horizontal platforms, like security concerns and different protocols. The new platform The new includes network, cloud and end-point security. It also implements the latest Lightweight M2M security model for IoT device management. Nokia has worked with partners and other companies to develop the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Lightweight M2M protocol.

"At the same time, we are also agnostic to the fact there's a lot of IoT devices already in the field, and they may or may not try to implement the new protocol," Ploumen said. Consequently, Nokia developed an adapter to plug into the Impact platform to address different protocols.

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