Unique Meetup debates the IoT Ecosystem in Canada

On June 23, CIA-Plus Toronto – the meetup group launched by InsightaaS to provide a forum for community meetings on Cloud, IoT and Analytics and Big Data – hosted a “Building the IoT Ecosystem in Canada” meetup at Metro Hall.The session, headlined by speakers and panelists from Cisco, Schulich School of Business, Red Hat, ORION (the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network) and Ingram Micro, was a tremendous success, with the 30 attendees – a group ranging from industry leaders/CEOs to MBA students – describing it as “very informative” and “engaging,” and one IoT industry veteran observing that the event featured “great dialogue between seriously engaged and informed speakers and participants.”

It’s difficult to summarize an event that moved from a spotlight presentation delivered by Tracey Hutchison of Cisco to a panel discussion involving Victor Garcia of Schulich, Ted Longley of Orion, Savio Lee of Ingram and Michael Cardy of Red Hat and on to networking through a flurry of animated discussion in a single post. Here, though, are some of the key points made and debated over the course of the two–hour session:

  • Consortiums become the creators of IoT. This idea, introduced by Cisco’s Hutchison, set the tone for the ecosystem perspective. As several participants observed, “you can’t buy a box of IoT” – solutions are assembled from a wide range of sensor, networking, software and compute products and services, often to the unique requirements of specific verticals or use cases. As a result, integrators and integration standards play an essential role in the development of commercial-grade IoT systems.
  • Innovation comes from the edge. This point, which was first raised by Victor Garcia and then examined by several members of the panel and the group as a whole, looked at how new developments in devices – especially with respect to sensors and networking – are driving innovation in IoT.
  • Scoping the solution. Responding to a question posed by writer/consultant (and IoTCC member) Don Sheppard, the panel and audience debated where the boundaries around IoT are drawn. This is a complex issue, one that can lead to many detailed discussions.
  • Symmetry? Campbell Patterson of CP Communications, prompted a debate about the extent to which IoT is likely to be (/should be designed to be) symmetrical, distributing information to the edge in addition to receiving sensor input from the edge. This is a critical issue in many industrial IoT (IIoT) environments: the quantity of data exchanged may be quite small, but response time and associated actions can be very significant.
  • IoT doesn’t and won’t rely on a single network. Panelist Ted Longley led this part of the discussion, which looked at the complications of integrating services and orchestration in solutions that span many different types of networks.
  • Prioritization (of data, traffic and alerts). John Morris, whose career has included several IoT-related positions and assignments, raised the issue of alert fatigue. This in turn led to extended discussion (involving panelists Savio Lee and Michael Cardy, and several audience members) about the importance of and methods of achieving effective prioritization of data, traffic and alerts.
  • Privacy. No IoT discussion can avoid debate around privacy. The group conversation included the observation that there is a collision between what technology can do and our capacity to apply governance, with the panel and several audience members raising issues and observations regarding the evolving need for privacy protection and available solutions – process and technology – that can be applied to the problem

IoT Meetup speakers

The final part of the formal panel discussion consisted of a request to each speaker, asking them to complete the phrase, “In my experience, what’s most important to building/sustaining/growing a viable IoT solution/ecosystem is…” Responses included:

  • Use cases – especially, those bridging IT and OT (information and operational technology)
  • Collaboration, openness and trust (this was endorsed by all other panel members)
  • Understanding and addressing business needs and architecture requirements
  • Standards – a viable community platform for IoT.
Lessons learned and follow up

It was clear from the reaction of attendees – who refused to release the panel when the networking session started (instead continuing to pepper them with questions) and who stayed to, and past, the end of the formal session time – that there is enormous appetite for this type of information exchange. CIA-Plus will reconvene in September with a session on “Analytics and Big Data in the context of corporate change.” Readers who are interested in attending this session are encouraged to join the meetup group and message community manager Stephen Symonds.

InsightaaS wishes to thank our speaker, panelists and attendees, CIA-Plus sponsor Red Hat, and the City of Toronto, which hosted this event. We, too, are looking forward to the next chapter in September!

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