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New Standards for M2M Services
from rdukewoolley, 20 January, 2012 at 04.17 · Posted in M2M Platforms, M2M Service Layer, M2M Standards

Following ETSI’s (European Telecom Standards Institute) recent first release of an M2M Services standard at their workshop last October, this week saw two further related announcements. First, a joint announcement involving no less than 7 Standards Development Organizations from around the world, including ARIB (Japan), ATIS (USA), CCSA (China), ETSI (Europe), TIA (USA), TTA (Korea) and TTC (Japan). This initiative “recognizes that M2M services often rely upon communications networks for connectivity between the myriad of devices in the field and the M2M application servers, and have identified the need for a common cost-efficient, easily and widely available M2M Service Layer, which can be readily embedded within various hardware and software.” This will initially focus on the M2M Service Layer. It is to be hoped that each of these organizations has the same understanding of what the M2M Services Layer consists of.

The second announcement came from the ITU, also looking to establish a focus group on the M2M Service Layer, initially looking at the requirements for e-health. It is to be hoped that this will be consistent with the first initiative.

These initiatives are of course to be welcomed. Anything that helps to speed up, simplify and reduce the costs of bringing new M2M applications and services to market should be hugely beneficial. So long as they actually do that.

My concerns have more to do with how this plays out in the real world.

I have already talked elsewhere about Beecham Research’s own recently completed study in this area (click here for details) – what we refer to as M2M Service Enablement Services (SES). At present there are well over 60 M2M platforms in the market and this is growing quickly. They do not all do the same things – not by any means. During the course of the study, Beecham Research identified over 110 different service elements that either are or will likely shortly be offered by different platforms. None of them do them all though nor can they because of the way the market is structured. That structure is  unlikely to change much, although of course the supply chain must be reduced in length and complexity.

So therein lies my first concern. Will these standards incorporate all such service elements? It seems unlikely. The M2M SES market is moving rapidly in many different directions, including billing, customer support, provisioning, application development, system integration and event processing to name a few. If these and other requirements are not fully catered for in the new standards, who does them?

That leads to my second concern. If the market gets to think that simpler all-embracing solutions are just around the corner, will they wait . . . only to find they aren’t?

That leads swiftly to my third concern. Who is responsible for implementing all this? This is not like introducing a new technology where technology suppliers just launch new standards-compliant products into the market. It is also not like a new cellular mobile feature that is totally in the domain of the mobile operators. These M2M services are appearing from many different sources, in different parts of different value chains.

Is this a recipe for market confusion that has the effect of slowing down rather than speeding up implementations?

1 comment
  • Rdukewoolley

    ETSI has now published its new standard for the M2M Service Layer. It is in 3 volumes and “weighs in” at a total of 852 pages (see http://www.etsi.org/WebSite/NewsandEvents/2012_02_M2M_standards_release.aspx ). This is Release 1 so, although it is already large, it can be expected to get larger.

    It is worth remembering that M2M – particularly in the business-to-business market – has developed to date largely through the efforts of small and medium sized companies. Large market players are of course now getting involved and this is to be welcomed. However – because of its size – I cannot help thinking that this is a standard with mainly large market players in mind.

    The TIA in North America has also been working on a standard for M2M smart devices (see http://www.tiaonline.org/all-standards/committees/tr-50 ), I understand this is not addressing quite the same target as the ETSI standard and it is not yet published – expected in the Fall. However, I am advised that this will be a much more modest 35-40 pages.

    Maybe this is not drawing a sufficiently close comparison, but if I was running a small to medium sized supplier in this market, I am pretty sure which of these I would prefer to work with.