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VMware IoT services wield IT ties for device management

VMware is positioning itself in the emerging IoT market with a combination of device management services and complementary features from other VMware products.

VMware will turn to customers that already run VMware IoT services, as well as third-party vendors, in an effort...

to find a foothold in the IoT device management market.

The internet of things (IoT) pushes intelligence and processing power to remote endpoints with tools such as sensors and smart meters. Manufacturers can gain more visibility into their supply chain and production facilities, and health care providers can gain more insight into patient needs and treatment options. This knowledge comes from technologies that gather data, as well as from services that process that data.

VMware IoT focuses on the edge

IoT has introduced a new category of devices and capabilities, as well as new management challenges. Businesses can't transmit information from billions of IoT endpoints directly to their data centers. Consequently, there are services that do some of the processing locally at the edge.

VMware is one of the many vendors vying to provide services in the growing IoT device management market. The company's strategy started to take shape in May 2017 when it unveiled VMware Pulse IoT Center. The product manages three-tier IoT environments that consist of intelligent end devices, a gateway that facilitates communication, and back-end systems in the data center or cloud that provide data computation.

VMware designed Pulse IoT Center to deliver consistent IoT device management and security. The management console provides a foundation for device management that issues alerts and notifications, checks security credentials, and provides APIs for third-party integrations. A client-side agent collects device performance information and works with IoT gateways to act on it locally or relay it to central applications for analysis and action.

VMware IoT builds on existing relationships, third-party suppliers

To gain market traction, VMware IoT services utilize IT departments that already rely on VMware. VMware Pulse IoT shares concepts and features with VMware AirWatch, the firm's mobile management system, and VMware vRealize Operations, its enterprise management service. The VMware IoT service also integrates with vSAN, VMware's hyper-converged infrastructure software, and vSphere, its server virtualization platform.

But VMware is facing challenges as it pushes its way into the IoT device management market. Other suppliers are further along in building up their ecosystems, and some of these IoT services extend management beyond IT.

Other suppliers are further along in building up their ecosystems, and some of these IoT services extend management beyond IT.

In areas such as manufacturing, operational technology teams deploy industrial machines and scientific services to manage devices such as factory robots, oil rigs and ships. These groups have deployed complex computing infrastructures that run quite differently than IT systems. Suppliers such as ABB, Honeywell and Siemens have established strong positions in these markets, and VMware IoT must keep up.

In these manufacturing and industrial markets, the standard network and device protocols are often industry-specific. In response, VMware has partnered with third parties to develop an ecosystem to extend and supplement its VMware IoT platform. Adlink, Axis Communications, Dell EMC, Eurotech, Fujitsu, Samsung, SAP and Wipro are some of the vendors that support VMware's IoT tools. 

VMware has developed a strong reputation in a number of industries, and it's searching for a way to use its established relationships to gain new positions in emerging markets. The success of VMware IoT will depend on the maturity of the market and VMware's ability to continually offer compelling methods for IoT device management as new tools and devices are developed.

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