Verizon and IBM take their talents to the enterprise edge with IoT and 5G

Verizon Business and IBM have joined forces on creating a new monitoring solution for enterprises that combines 4G, 5G and edge computing.

The two companies, which have worked with each other for decades, combined their various technologies to create mobile asset tracking and management solutions at the edge.

Verizon is pitching in its low latency 5G connectivity, edge compute capabilities and IoT systems and sensors at the edge. Those assets work in tandem with IBM's Maximo Monitor, AI, multi-cloud, and analytics platforms. The combined platform was designed to help enterprises detect, locate, diagnose and respond to system anomalies while also monitoring the health of devices or equipment. It can also help predict equipment failures in near real-time.

"Over the years, Verizon has built out a very large business in IoT in general," said Sowmyanarayan Sampath, president of global enterprise at Verizon. "We power, water meters. We power electric meters. We power alarm systems. We power elevators. So we've built this huge ecosystem. We used to leave it to the client to do the integration."

Using Verizon's IoT and connectivity solutions and IBM's Maximo platform, the two companies have created an end-to-end solution that can send out an alert if an elevator goes down, or is about to go down. In that example, a technician with a mobile application can be dispatched to fix the problem immediately.

With sensors embedded in devices, inspections of air conditioning units on of roof tops can be done without dispatching a technician.  Sampath said it was a "truly horizontal" solution that can be used across various industry verticals such as oil and gas, manufacturing and health care.

"The way I think about it is there are two types of assets," he said. "Assets that move and assets that don't move. Assets that move, we can track them. We can know who's using them. We can know what's going on with them.

"Assets that don't move, it's about maintenance, it's about quality and it's about fault management and repair. So all those use cases get covered. And that's something we can basically bring to the table on day one."

Verizon currently has 5G live across 35 cities and plans to have it deployed nationwide by the end of the year. Using 5G provides lower latency at the edge, but the platform also works with low power NB IoT or LTE for connectivity where there's no Wi-Fi.

Currently, the solution works across IBM's data centers, but the plan is to have it at the 5G network edge for latency of 20 milliseconds to 30 milliseconds. The 5G network edge has increased density for devices and more throughput, which means the devices can spew out more data very quickly.

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Verizon has a partnership in place with Amazon Web Services for developing 5G solutions at the edge. Sampath said three or four companies are kicking the tires on the combined platform with IBM, but didn't identify them.

Sampath said 5G cards can be embedded across equipment and devices, but sensors can be added to older equipment.

"So there are some cases where you're sending out trickle of data over a long period of time," He said. "In some cases, you want 24/7 flow for massive amounts of data. That's where 5G comes in. So we are almost ambivalent when it comes down to the use cases. If you want to trickle with low power, we can enable it. If you want high-frequency data, we can enable that too.

"Maximo is quite agile on the back end, and it can figure out exactly how much data is needed."

Joe Berti, vice president of offering management for IBM AI applications, said Maximo has been around for about 30 years, and has developed an almost cult like following during that time span.

"Everybody and their brother can collect data, but they don't have an end-to-end solution, unfortunately, so just collecting data doesn't do you any good," Berti said. "You actually have to create a work order or you need a mobile application for a technician to go do a repair and fix something.

"They also need information about the asset. A system like Maximo helps you manage the end-to-end lifecycle. What we've' done is combine the Verizon solution with Maximo to deliver a complete solution, versus just kind of feeding data into a cloud."

In order to use the new platform, enterprises need to be customers of both IBM and Verizon. Sampath said at some point Verizon may offer the solution to SMBs.

"The true value comes when someone takes this and integrates it into their workflow," Sampath said. "For example, when you dispatch a technician, or you take a call. That's how the loop closes. Every time you close one of those loops, your ROI keeps going higher and higher."