In the media and social channels, IoT has almost entirely eclipsed M2M. Both technologies have their strengths and a typical range of effectiveness for industry applications. Here’s an overview of the differences and optimal application scenarios for M2M and the IoT.
Different communication channels and applications
You often read that machine-to-machine (M2M) technology is the predecessor of the internet of things (IoT). M2M is older than IoT and comes with several limitations that do not apply to the IoT, but it is not disappearing or turning into legacy technology by any means. However, companies have a practical, affordable alternative in the IoT and need to decide whether M2M or IoT are the best way to achieve what they wish to accomplish.
M2M typically relies on point-to-point communications between machines, and uses sensors or other hardware reaching through modems to access proprietary, cellular or wired networks. IoT sensors, on the other hand, send their data through the same IP networks that facilitate so much other data traffic on the internet.
Both M2M and IoT provide remote access to industrial assets and their data streams. In M2M, the use of that data is often associated with management and service applications such as computerized maintenance management software (CMMS). Both M2M and IoT support such scenarios as proactive maintenance or asset service management. However, it is unusual, and would take significant systems integration efforts, for M2M to play a significant role in asset performance management or connect to big data analytical applications.
IoT software focus and extended range of stakeholders
When it comes to enabling hardware, M2M works largely with sensors and hardware modules built into industrial assets. IoT can incorporate a very wide range of sensor types, many of them fully commoditized and inexpensive. As has been pointed out, the type of hardware deployed in M2M is essential for it to work. In the IoT, you can connect almost any imaginable sensor to almost any conceivable item, and the data management, analytical, visualization, and other software applications layered onto the IoT are much more critical in generating the business results companies look for. That also means that IoT data can be exposed to a much wider range of applications and integrations and can become available to a wider range of users and business stakeholders than would be easily feasible with M2M.
IoT can contain M2M
From another perspective, you can think of many M2M applications as possible subsets of the IoT. Whereas M2M tends to deliver its value most effectively in discrete territories of industrial assets and their associated data, IoT can augment that by providing a contextual view of data and events across applications, business groups, and organizational boundaries. You could imagine an M2M application that meets a certain need, such as supporting maintenance planning, while it also is part of the IoT and enables more comprehensive asset performance management or cross-organizational collaboration with sharing of select data. Such business-wide efforts as servitization—transforming the business model to deliver the highest possible customer value of the products as a service offering, not a capital expenditure—go beyond what M2M could facilitate and require the extensive resources of the IoT.
IoT big data and the cloud are inseparable
Given the lower cost of the required hardware, the ease of installing and connecting sensors, and the universal bandwidth of internet connectivity, IoT applications may involve many more sensors on industrial assets than you would place in an M2M environment. In the IoT, you are always in the realm of big data. Once companies understand the insight and collaborative capabilities they can gain with big data analytics, they also look for the most economical and scalable way to store and share the data from their industrial assets. For that reason, the IoT is unthinkable without the robustness, security, and scalability of the cloud.
innius relies fully on the IoT to deliver its benefits. The solution’s cloud infrastructure rests on Amazon Web Services (AWS). If you would like to explore innius more practically, have questions, or want to provide feedback, please contact us.