AT&T Integrates Its IoT Services with IBM Bluemix to Enhance M2M

AT&T's M2X, Flow Designer, and IoT Data Plans enable prototyping, analytics and data visualization, and connectivity to diverse enterprise mobile devices.

AT&T partners with IBM to ensure availability of its IoT services—M2X, Flow Designer, and IoT Data Plans—via IBM Bluemix. The scope of their use covers the following, but is not limited to:

  • Management of globally distributed assets (e.g., trucks, sensors, etc.)
  • Real-time diagnostics and control of vehicles
  • Monitoring manufacturing workflows to reduce costs and improve labour safety
  • Real-time control of heavy equipment (e.g., air compressors, aerial work platforms, etc.)
  • Remote management and monitoring of public services for smart city projects
  • Enabling smart home automation


Gaining actionable insights from IoT data with M2X

AT&T’s M2X is a cloud-­based fully managed time­-series data storage service for network connected machine­-to-­machine (M2M) devices and IoT.

Cloud Foundry, through the use of IBM Bluemix, plays a role in the M2X project. From trucks and turbines to vending machines and freight containers, M2X enables devices that power businesses to connect and share data.

AT&T-IBM Bluemix-M2X-Devices Screen_v1

“From farming to fleets, there are many companies that would benefit from real, actionable IoT data.” —Chris Penrose, Senior Vice President, AT&T IoT Solutions

The service is compatible with any device or application communicating via HTTP or RESTful APIs and supports a range of device platforms, software, and other services. Its most notable features include:

  • Direct collection of data from connected devices, various data sources, and integrated services via RESTful APIs
  • Redundant and fault-tolerant data storage, which ensures maximum device uptime
  • Developer Portal that helps to create, test, and manage deployments, scaling them up to millions of IoT devices
  • Secure access to data based on API Keys enabling sophisticated POST, GET, PUT, DELETE permissions
  • Real-time analytics to aid businesses in making important decisions quickly
  • AT&T-M2X-Data-Service-Dashboards

  • Visualization of device, event, and location data, utilizing dashboards and customized widgets
  • Notifications to alert users of specific events and event-based triggers that ensure automation

Devices connected to a network (e.g., cellular, WiFi, satellite, etc.) communicate via RESTful APIs with the M2X data storage, transmitting data streams. With the data collected and at their disposal, users can perform some basic data analytics and visualize it in the form of graphs, charts, widgets, etc. It is also possible to set up triggers and notifications as outbound APIs connected to other platforms and services where data can be subject to further processing.

AT&T-IBM Bluemix-M2X-Capabilities

Visit the GitHub repository for a M2X demo app. It provides a framework for an IBM Bluemix application with Python code that transmits data to AT&T M2X. The application reports the current stock price of AT&T’s stock every minute.


Prototyping with Flow Designer

AT&T is also positioned for IoT deployments through a visual development editor called Flow Designer that integrates Node-RED IoT “wiring” tool.

Flow Designer offers pre-­configured nodes to allow easy access to multiple data sources, cloud services, device profiles, and communication methods. The integrations are already done, so users can focus on wiring the building blocks together to create IoT applications.


Flow Designer can be used either independently or in combination with the M2X service and offers the following capabilities:

  • A set of pre-built IoT protocols that enable developers to construct the business logic of an application through simple drag-and-drop operations
  • One-click automated deployment
  • Integration with external services (e.g., for data analysis, visualization, etc.)
  • Git-based versioning with a possibility to share code and track changes

Flow Designer is built on the concepts of openness, simplicity, and re-­use. As applications are wired together, the resulting flows are saved for reuse, reducing development time in the process. It is meant to be an intuitive visual tool that enables IoT app developers to create prototypes, iterate, and improve through multiple versions, then deploy their applications.


Enabling connectivity with IoT Data Plans

IoT Data Plans rely on enterprise SIM cards and provide LTE-powered cellular connectivity for commercial IoT projects. The service enables users to:

  • To connect up to 1,000 devices to the AT&T LTE network on a single data plan
  • To deploy IoT products quickly and in a more cost-effective way, avoiding the need to negotiate on connectivity with providers
  • To monitor data usage and manage SIMs in a real-time mode
  • To scale IoT operations to meet business requirements, switching data plans and purchasing more/less SIMs

With ample IoT development and data management capabilities, the services are expected to bring value to a variety of industries and businesses.


Want details? Watch the videos!

Joe Bossalini, Product Development Engineer at AT&T, is one of the architects of the M2X data service. This is his discussion of M2X from a chatroom. Part of his discussion was about the use of M2X with a WiFi­-enabled Arcuino board.

Another video describes how to build a production-ready IoT solution with the M2X service.

Watch Bret Greenstein, Vice President, Watson IoT Consumer Business, talk about strategic IBM–AT&T partnership.


Further reading

The post is written by Alesia Bulanok and Alex Khizhniak.