HP preps IoT wares to tame energy beasts, like runaway air conditioners

HP aims to build huge IoT systems with carriers, targeting power companies first

On a hot day in the future, if you go to work and leave your home air conditioning on full blast, your power company may know you're away and turn it down for you.

Assuming the potential privacy issues get worked out, that could save you money and keep the utility away from the brink of overload, Hewlett-Packard says. It wants to build end-to-end, cloud-powered systems that energy companies could use for all the monitoring, device management, security and analytics needed to fine-tune power production and use.

The combination of software and services that HP will use to build those systems, called the HP Energy Management Pack, is the first product built on the HP IoT Platform, the company's answer to expected demand for Internet of Things implementations. The IoT Platform and Energy Management Pack are available now, and more packages are coming later for industries like transportation and health care, said Jeff Edlund, chief technology officer of HP's communications and media solutions business.

IoT will be a hot topic at next week's Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. IoT describes a broad range of devices and use cases, but usually it involves a complex set of technologies and networks to link up remote equipment. It's not just the sensors, wearables and appliances that get all the attention.

"There's a whole lot more that it takes to actually get all of that working," said analyst Peter Jarich of Current Analysis.

Complexity is the problem HP wants to tackle, and it's working through communications service providers to deliver its solution. HP is just one of several broad-based IT vendors that see a chance to use assets like services and cloud expertise for IoT. Cisco, Dell, Oracle and IBM all are making moves in this space, and old-line telecommunications vendors are also getting a piece of the action.

A key thing the Energy Management Pack can do for utilities is let them control how much energy is used. Instead of just using smart meters to keep closer tabs on how much power is being used in homes and offices, the system could use two-way communication and big-data analytics to adjust consumption itself.

For example, a utility could guess pretty accurately when residents would be away from home, based on their typical patterns of energy use, and then turn down heating, air-conditioning or other systems during those times. Or the power company could work with a city government to remotely adjust street lamps to conserve energy. Knowledge about both individual customers and overall demand would drive those decisions.

HP expects many vendors to come out with smart meters and other components in this young industry, and it will work to integrate those parts, Edlund said. Though there are many IoT standards now and may be more in the future, HP says it has software gateways and APIs (application programming interfaces) to link different machines and protocols together. HP's platform complies with the OneM2M and OMA-DM (Open Mobile Alliance Device Management) standards, the company says.

Carriers can buy an HP IoT platform and run it themselves, have HP run it, or have it hosted in HP's cloud. In theory, the back end of the system could run on any cloud because it's based on Linux for x86 hardware, Edlund said.

While some giant service providers such as AT&T have built IoT systems on their own through multiple partnerships, many medium-size and smaller carriers will probably let a partner like HP do the work for them, analyst Jarich said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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