IBM unveils MessageSight to orchestrate 'Internet of things'

IBM's 2U MessageSight appliance is designed to handle millions of incoming messages from sensor-enabled equipment

IBM today unveiled MessageSight, a 2U appliance that would serve as a cornerstone to Big Blue's "Internet of things" vision: The hardware is a big data orchestrator, and according to IBM, it's capable of handling up to 13 million incoming messages per second flowing in from up to 1 million different sensors installed in anything -- automobiles, medical equipment, home appliances, mobile devices -- such that the data can be transformed into useful information.

IBM isn't the only organization looking to realize the promise of the "Internet of things." EMC spin-off Pivotal -- backed by VMware and GE -- last week unveiled its own vision, a next-generation PaaS (platform as a service) offering called Pivotal One. Pivotal One looks promising one paper, but it's not expected to reach commercial availability until Q4 of this year. MessageSight is available come next month, as part of IBM's established MobileFirst intiative, a collection of mobile enterprise software, services, cloud, and analytics capabilities designed to help organizations deploy, secure, and manage mobile strategies and app. That, in turn, falls under Big Blue's Smarter Planet initiative.

"When we launched our Smarter Planet strategy nearly five years ago, our strategic belief was that the world was going to be profoundly changed as it became more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. IBM MessageSight is a major technological step forward in continuing that strategy," said Marie Wieck, general manager of WebSphere at IBM. "Until now, no technology has been able to handle this volume of messages and devices. What's even more exciting is that this only scratches the surface of what's to come as we continue down this path of a Smarter Planet."

The "Internet of things" represents the logical evolution of the cloud and big data: the idea to enable sensor-equipped "things" to communicate with one another in meaningful, actionable ways, such as the following examples:

  • If a dozen county hospitals were equipped with sensor-enabled medical equipment, the system collecting the data might observe a spike in a particular disease and warn of a potential epidemic before it spirals out of control.
  • In the retail world, a company could see in real time which products are selling out fast in its stores, via RFID, sensors on the shelves, or point-of-sale data. A trigger could kick off an automated order to manufacturers or distributors to order more.
  • In the automotive world, dealers and car manufacturers could collect real-time data from sensor-enabled cars and keep a tab on potential widespread defects in a new model.

Loading equipment and inventory with sensors is the easy part, relatively speaking; the challenge is managing and processing all the incoming data. By 2020, there will be more than 22 billion Web-connected devices, according to IMS Research. These new devices will generate more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data every day, with enough information consumed each hour to fill 7 million DVDs.

MessageSight's role is to handle and route the tremendous volumes of messages, up to 13 million messages per second from as many as 1 million sources at a time, according to IBM. The appliance builds on MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) technology. MQTT was recently proposed as an OASIS standard, providing a lightweight messaging transport for communication in machine to machine (M2M) and mobile environments.

Among MessageSight's features, it comes DMZ-ready, requiring no use-level operating system, encrypted flash, or storage media. It supports SSL and TSL, and it will only run signed and encrypted firmware images provided by IBM. It can be deployed in under 30 minutes, according to IBM, by using a role- and task-driven user interface. It can be managed via Web- or command-line-based interfaces.

The machine features asynchronous messaging that supports both publish and subscribe (topic-based) and point-to-point (queue-based) messaging domains. In addition to supporting MQTT version 3.1 and MQTT over HTML5 WebSockets, it can handle Java Messaging Service (JMS) 1.1.

For developers, the appliance supports MQTT clients and libraries for a variety of platforms (C- and Java-based APIs), according to IBM, as well as libraries for Google Android and Apple iOS; JMS client libraries; JavaScript API for HTML5-based applications; and PhoneGap MQTT plug-ins with JavaScript API for use with IBM Worklight, Apache Cordova, and Adobe PhoneGap.

This article, "IBM unveils MessageSight to orchestrate 'Internet of things'," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.