ONF Announces Aether 5G Connected Edge Cloud Platform

Many industry pundits and observers seem to not understand all the ramifications and potentials for 5G. I’ve listened to podcasts from John Gruber at Daring Fireball and the guys at Accidental Tech Podcast talk about how 5G isn’t providing the anticipated boost for data speeds for their new iPhone 12s. But 5G provides for so much more than that.

I’ve had an opportunity to talk with people from the new Open Networking Foundation and check out this open-source community springing up. Here is a recent press release. Open source is burgeoning right now. Cynics say it’s just a way for big companies to cut development costs. I think it goes much deeper than that given licensing protocols and the spread of technology. This one is interesting and poised to take (among other things) Industrial Internet of Things to a deeper level.

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) announced that ONF’s Aether 5G Connected Edge Cloud platform is being used as the software platform for the $30M DARPA Pronto project, pursuing research to secure future 5G network infrastructure.

DARPA is funding ONF to build, deploy and operate the network to support research by Cornell, Princeton and Stanford universities in the areas of network verification and closed-loop control. ONF will enhance and deploy its open source Aether software platform as the foundation for the Pronto research work, and in turn the research results will be open sourced back into Aether to help advance Aether as a platform for future secure 5G network infrastructure.

Aether – 5G Connected Edge Cloud Platform

Aether is the first open source 5G Connected Edge Cloud platform. Aether provides mobile connectivity and edge cloud services for distributed enterprise networks as a cloud managed offering. Aether is an open source platform optimized for multi-cloud deployments, and it simultaneously supports wireless connectivity over licensed, unlicensed and lightly-licensed (CBRS) spectrum.

Aether is a platform for enabling enterprise digital transformation projects. Coupling robust cellular connectivity with connected edge cloud processing creates a platform for supporting Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) and Operational Technology (OT) services like robotics control, onsite inference processing of video feeds, drone control and the like.

Given Aether’s end-to-end programmable architecture coupled with its 5G and edge cloud capabilities, Aether is well suited for supporting the Pronto research agenda.

Aether Beta Deployment

ONF has operationalized and is running a beta production deployment of Aether.  This deployment is a single unified cloud managed network interconnecting the project’s commercial partners AT&T, Ciena, Intel, Google, NTT, ONF and Telefonica. This initial deployment supports CBRS and/or 4G/LTE radio access at all sites, and is cloud managed from a shared core running in the Google public cloud.

The University campuses are being added to this Aether deployment in support of Pronto. Campus sites will be used by Pronto researchers to advance the Pronto research, serving as both a development platform and a testbed for use case experimentation. The Aether footprint is expected to grow on the university campuses as Aether’s 5G Connected Edge Cloud capabilities are leveraged both for research on additional use cases as well as for select campus operations.

Aether Ecosystem
A growing ecosystem is backing Aether, collectively supporting the development of a common open source platform that can serve as an enabler for digital transformation projects, while also serving as a common platform for advanced research poised to help unlock the potential of the programmable network for more secure future 5G infrastructure.

At Google Cloud, we are working closely with the telecom ecosystem to help enable 5G transformation, accelerated by the power of cloud computing. We are pleased to support the Open Networking Foundation’s work to extend the availability of 5G and edge capabilities via an open source platform.” 

Shailesh Shukla, VP and GM, Networking, Google Cloud

Cornell is deploying Aether on campus to bring private 5G/LTE connectivity services with edge cloud capabilities into our research facilities.  We expect private 5G/LTE with connected edge cloud to become an important and integral part of our research infrastructure for many research and operational groups on the campus.  We also see the value of interconnecting a nation-wide leading infrastructure with Stanford, Princeton and ONF for collaborative research among university researchers across the country.”

David Lifka, Vice President for Information Technologies and CIO, Cornell University

Princeton University is deploying Aether on campus in the Computer Science Department in order to support the Pronto research agenda and offer it as an experimental infrastructure for other research groups. This deployment will enable private 5G/LTE connectivity and edge cloud services and will complement Princeton’s existing P4 enabled infrastructure on campus. We plan to also explore how some of our mission critical production use cases can be supported on a private 5G Connected Edge Cloud.”

Jay Dominick, Vice President & CIO, Princeton University

Ciena is pleased to be an early collaborator on the ONF’s Aether project.  We have an Aether site running in our 5G lab in Montreal, and we are excited by the prospect of helping enterprises leverage the 5G and edge cloud capabilities of Aether to help build transformative solutions.”

Stephen Alexander, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Ciena

 “Intel is an active participant of the ONF’s innovative Aether project to advance the development of 5G and edge cloud solutions on high volume servers. ONF has been leading the industry with advanced open source implementations in the areas of disaggregated Mobile Core, e.g. the Open Mobile Evolved Core (OMEC), and we look forward to continuing to innovate by applying proven principles of disaggregation, open source and AI/ML with Aether, the Enterprise 5G/LTE Edge-Cloud-as-a-Service platform. As open source, Aether will help accelerate the availability of innovative edge applications. Aether will be optimized to leverage powerful performance, AI/ML, and security enhancements, which are essential for 5G and available in Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors, network adapters and switching technologies, including Data-Plane Development Kit (DPDK), Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX), and Intel® Tofino™ Programmable Ethernet Switch.”

Pranav Mehta, Vice President of Systems and Software Research, Intel Labs

Learn More

The Aether ecosystem is open to researchers and other potential partners who wish to build upon Aether, and we welcome inquiries regarding collaboration.  You can learn more at the Aether website.

About the Open Networking Foundation:

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an operator led consortium spearheading disruptive network transformation. Now the recognized leader for open source solutions for operators, the ONF first launched in 2011 as the standard bearer for Software Defined Networking (SDN). Led by its operator partners AT&T, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT Group and Türk Telekom, the ONF is driving vast transformation across the operator space. For further information visit http://www.opennetworking.org

Harting Becomes ODVA’s Latest Principal Member

I am going to be catching up on a lot of late 2020 news. There certainly seemed to be more news in a pandemic-laden year than in a typical year. It was crazy. And the proliferation of virtual conferences was amazing.

So, ODVA is heading for growth at the physical layer. It has announced that Harting has become a principal member of ODVA alongside Cisco Systems, Endress+Hauser, Honeywell, Omron, Rockwell Automation, and Schneider Electric. The primary focus of Harting’s activities in ODVA will be through Harting of North America.

Harting is working to drive the advancement of industrial Ethernet as a part of IIoT and Industry 4.0, and its increased participation in ODVA will aid efforts to identify and standardize different technologies and devices that will be needed for the automation industry to successfully implement IIoT.

Harting has worked through ODVA and with its fellow ODVA Members for many years to promote the adoption of industrial automation communications network standards, to engage in technical development and enhancement activities, and to promote conforming products. It supports both EtherNet/IP and DeviceNet technologies with cable and connector solutions. Its products include heavy duty connectors, interface/board connectors, custom cabling, and a wide portfolio of solutions for industrial communications, especially Industrial Ethernet. Key served market segments include machinery/robotics, automation, transportation, wind energy, and power generation & distribution. The company provides data, signal, and power via complete connector installation concepts for industrial infrastructures, setting new standards with connectors such as the Han series. It has helped drive the adoption of industrial Ethernet over the past years, especially with the launch of their T1 Industrial connector for Industrial Single Pair Ethernet.

“EtherNet/IP is a critical communication network for the future of discrete and process industries, especially with the advent of Industrial Single Pair Ethernet and Ethernet-APL,” stated Jon DeSouza, President and CEO of Harting Americas. “Harting is looking forward to continuing to provide enhanced smart connectivity solutions for EtherNet/IP networks to drive faster decision making and error correction as well as prevention. By joining ODVA as a principal member, HARTING is increasing its contribution to the advancement of EtherNet/IP and related ODVA technology and standards to prepare for OT and IT convergence. IIoT and Industry 4.0 continue to gain traction and drive industry advancement, making now the perfect time for Harting to increase its commitment to ODVA.” 

“ODVA welcomes the increased contribution of HARTING as a principal member as well as their expertise in smart connectivity,” said Dr. Al Beydoun, President and Executive Director of ODVA. “Their participation as a principal member will contribute to and grow ODVA’s ability to move the connectivity of the industrial enterprise forward to meet the increased demands of IIoT and Industry 4.0.”

Nokia Delivers Private 5G Network

Nokia delivers private 5G network to MYNXG for secure IoT solutions development 

  • 5G connectivity enables MYNXG testing and development of secure end-to-end IoT solutions for high-performance industrial applications
  • Network deployed at MYNXG headquarters in Nuremburg, Germany

The Apple-oriented tech podcasters that I listen to—Daring Fireball-The Talk Show with John Gruber and Accidental Tech Podcast—kept complaining about not seeing a noticeable improvement in cellular reception with their new iPhone 12s. Thing is, the true benefits of 5G have little to do with the ordinary consumer. Here is an early peek at a use case. There will be more and better to come.

Nokia has deployed an industrial-grade private wireless 5G campus network at the Nuremburg development center of secure industrial IoT specialist MYNXG

MYNXG will use the Nokia 5G network at its new industrial IoT interoperability test center to develop new secure solutions for the industrial Internet of Things, as well as perform real-life testing of equipment and sensors for a range of OEM and customer projects. 

MYNXG’s operational technology functions using 5G’s full capability from both a performance and quality of service perspective. MYNXG has integrated the Nokia 5G solution into its end-to-end secure MYNXG IoT Platform. As the deployment progresses, the companies will identify potential opportunities for joint solution development.

Bernd Möller, CEO of MYNXG, said: “Our goal is to be able to offer our customers robust, and certified end-to-end secure industrial IoT solutions, so that they can drive the automation and digitalization of their processes. By integrating Nokia’s 5G technology into our overall industrial IoT technology platform, we have not only found an ideal solution for testing IoT systems, but also the basis for further marketplace development.”

Nokia’s private 5G campus wireless solution is based on Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC). Scalable according to needs, Nokia DAC is an industrial-grade digital automation platform that provides a reliable, secure, high-performance private wireless network.  Combining edge computing capability and low latency to support data-intensive applications, DAC users can securely collect, process and host all generated proprietary data on site.

Thomas Hainzel, Head of EMEA Manufacturing & Logistics, Nokia Enterprise, said: “For industrial companies to realize their Industry 4.0 ambitions, it is crucial that they can test IoT solutions and applications in real-life conditions. This requires not only a proven, resilient IoT platform, but also a powerful and secure high bandwidth network. In this case, Nokia provides MYNXG and its ecosystem with the ideal platform for its testing and development work.”

MYNXG operates a globally unique, real-time and secure IoT platform for industrial solutions. The MYNXG platform is designed to protect devices, physical infrastructures and related data to the highest cybersecurity standards. This is achieved by its consistent hardware-based, end-to-end security architecture. It supports all industrial interfaces at the device level, industry protocols and automation standards. 

In addition to scalable cloud services, the MYNXG platform provides straightforward, direct integration into existing business systems and processes. Industrial solutions include condition monitoring for shop floor equipment, product life cycle and process automation, supply chain asset management and access control to sites, processes and data.

Nokia has the most comprehensive portfolio of campus networks on the market, ranging from 4.9G/LTE to 5G non-standalone and 5G standalone. Nokia has more than 220 enterprise customers with private wireless networks worldwide. 5G customers include Deutsche Bahn, Lufthansa Technik and Toyota Production Engineering. Customers can choose between the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud with a range of click and deploy applications or they can customize their network to their needs with Nokia Modular Private Wireless.

Siemens AG Global SD-WAN Migration Project

Delivering what is possibly one of the largest global SD-WAN deals, [Orange] have successfully migrated 80% of Siemens AG’s global sites to the network as part of its large-scale digital transformation program.

This era of technology could be called the “software-defined” era. The push for software-defined control has re-ignited with the Open Process Automation efforts. The discrete-side effort sort of fizzled, although many in Germany believe that the companies building controllers with CODESYS software platform qualifies. I think much work remains to fulfill that vision.

Software-defined has also invaded networking. Orange Business Services, the European telecom company, sent a blog post by Axel Hinze regarding a project for Siemens AG about implementing a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN).

This project has proceeded at pace even during the global pandemic, where the demands on the Siemens WAN have increased with virtual teams and teleworkers collaborating on global projects. We have met Siemens’ requirements by combining SD-WAN technology with cloud- and web-based services and solutions.

As a global business with subsidiaries and divisions all over the world, Siemens “needs a reliable and flexible communication network that is a critical business enabler and can evolve with our growing business”, as its VP of IT Strategy & Governance Frederik Janssen has said.

Siemens has put SD-WAN at the heart of its Siemens Digitalization Network (SDN), which is designed to strengthen its’ IT infrastructure and increase network performance across the organization. It provides centralized cloud control with combined communication capabilities, enabling customers to increase flexibility and performance alongside cost efficiencies. SDN will also allow the multinational to take advantage of advances in digitalization to enhance Industry 4.0 processes.

Flexible SD-WAN also provides the foundation of the Siemens “zero trust” security framework, which improves security by authenticating and authorizing every device wanting to connect to the network irrespective of its location. This will enable Siemens to effectively mitigate, detect and respond to risks across its entire infrastructure.

Business benefits already being seen

The Siemens locations that have been connected to the SD-WAN network are already seeing the benefits of this new approach, including greater business flexibility and agility. They can use bandwidth more efficiently, helping ensure high levels of performance for critical applications without forfeiting on security. In addition, operational costs have been reduced through internet-centric traffic management.

Greater network visibility also makes it easier for Siemens to see where upgrades are necessary to ensure its connectivity is always optimized. Three large sites in Brazil have seen substantial cost savings switching to SD-WAN, for example, while sites in the UK and Mexico have noted a reduction in the load on the MPLS Siemens intranet.

Global network integration and delivery

Orange Business Services was engaged to migrate Siemens’ entire global infrastructure to a dynamic and flexible SD-WAN network to connect cloud applications and IoT devices in 2018 in a six-year contract worth 240 million Euros. The contract spans 94 countries on five continents, and the scope has been streamlined to connect 1,000 sites and campuses.

By consolidating network design and maintenance with a single digital services provider, Siemens has been able to reduce overall complexity and improve application competences and agility. We work closely together as trusted partners to deliver seamless worldwide SD-WAN coverage with the highest degree of security.

As a trailblazer in innovation and technologies, Siemens set the highest benchmarks for this project. Our success in delivering, migrating and implementing this huge digital transformation project and managing Siemens’ critical global communications infrastructure highlights our end-to-end integration expertise to deliver global projects at scale.

Rockwell Automation Announcements From Automation Fair at Home

I posted overall thoughts from the opening day of Automation Fair at Home yesterday. It’s not that all is rosy in Milwaukee, but the company keeps making strides forward and yet goes its own way not bothering to emulate any competitors.

Several announcements have accumulated that I thought would fit along with Automation Fair thoughts. We have an acquisition, a partnership, and a new product series.

First, the acquisition. 

Rockwell Automation Acquires Fiix Cloud Software for Maintenance Solutions

Rockwell Automation announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Fiix, a privately held, AI-enabled computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) company. Fiix, founded in 2008, is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Fiix’s cloud-native CMMS creates workflows for the scheduling, organizing, and tracking of equipment maintenance. It connects to business systems and drives data-driven decisions. The company’s revenue grew 70% in 2019 with more than 85% recurring revenue. Fiix has more than 2 million assets under management and creates more than 6 million work orders a year.

“We believe that the future of industrial asset management is performance-based,” said Tessa Myers, vice president, product management, Software & Control, for Rockwell Automation. “With the addition of the Fiix platform and expertise, our customers will benefit from a 360-degree view of integrated data across automation, production, and maintenance, helping them to monitor and improve the performance of their assets and optimize how maintenance work is done.”

James Novak, Fiix CEO, said, “From the beginning, Fiix has been on a mission to connect maintenance and operations teams to the tools, resources, and technology they need to modernize and join the future of maintenance. Joining Rockwell Automation will allow us to help even more companies modernize maintenance and increase asset performance by connecting to industry-leading data, automation, and production systems.”

Fiix will be reported as part of Rockwell Automation’s Software & Control operating segment. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the 2020 calendar year, subject to customary approvals and conditions.

Second, the partnership.

PlantPAx 5.0 Running on ztC Edge by Stratus

Stratus Technologies announced a “Solution in a Box” process control architecture for fast, easy deployment at edge locations that require 2,000 I/O’s or less. The solution runs Rockwell Automation PlantPAx 5.0 software on Stratus ztC Edge. The solution is performance tested, characterized, and validated by Stratus and Rockwell Automation to ensure reliable, rapid deployment by operations teams and systems integrators using a single industrial-grade, panel mounted Edge Computing device.

“Whether it’s control in Water and Wastewater management, Machine Builders innovating for their customers, or managing remote assets in Oil & Gas, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving operational excellence. Enterprises require plant-wide data and control solutions with high availability that can both scale up and scale down based on the use case and location, while being cost effective and easy to implement,” said Dave Rapini, Business Manager for PlantPAx at Rockwell Automation.

The ability to bring mission-critical applications to where they’re needed most via Edge Computing delivers the scale and real-time data acquisition for operational excellence. Stratus’ simple, protected, and automated platform with fault tolerance and zero-touch operation is powering the disaggregation of large process architectures, traditionally deployed at level 3 and 4 of the Purdue model. The combined Stratus and Rockwell Automation “Solution in a Box” architecture provides a flexible approach to scale Industry 4.0 capabilities across a range of environments that was not previously possible.

PlantPAx is a plant wide distributed control system (DCS) that utilizes a common automation platform to integrate both process and discrete control as well as plant-wide information. ztC Edge is an industrial-grade Edge Computing platform that offers built-in redundancy and meets Class 1 Division 2 requirements to operate in hazardous environments. 

Architecture Details

The tested Solution-in-a-Box architecture includes:

  • Rockwell Automation PASS-Consolidated Image 
  • PASS (Process Automation System Server) – FactoryTalk View
  • FactoryTalk AssetCentre
  • FactoryTalk Historian
  • FactoryTalk VantagePoint
  • Rockwell Automation Application Server -OWS – ThinManager remote desktop server (RDS) for remote, mobile, and tablet access 
  • Stratus ztC Edge 110i (single system with a redundant option) – tested in fault tolerant and high availability modes

And thirdly, a new product series.

High-Performance, Scalable Kinetix Integrated Motion Drives

Rockwell Automation’s motion business has expanded its Kinetix line of servo drives with intelligent and scalable solutions.

The new Allen-Bradley Kinetix 5300 servo drive is a fully integrated, CIP Motion solution for global machine builders looking to increase performance and leverage a single-design environment for control and motion. When paired with the new TLP motors, customers get a coordinated platform as they extend the power of the connected enterprise into simple machines, an approach that positions Rockwell Automation to accelerate growth in emerging markets throughout Asia and mature markets in Europe. The new product line, combined with the rest of the Kinetix family, provides a complete range of servo drive offerings from Rockwell Automation for everything from small, standalone machines to large, complex systems. 

The Kinetix 5300 servo drives are designed for diverse machine applications such as electronics assembly, packaging and converting, printing and web (CPW). The new drives also feature capabilities that can help simplify machine design and optimize performance throughout the machine lifecycle. Like other Kinetix integrated motion drives, Kinetix 5300 leverages Studio 5000 as a single design environment. Using a single family of servo drives allows machine builders to program all their drives in this one design environment and reuse code across drives, streamlining the design and commissioning process. Kinetix 5300 native integration with Logix control enables smart tuning capabilities that adjust for changes in inertia and resonances automatically, helping to optimize machine performance and simplify machine maintenance over time. 

“Our expanded portfolio provides machines builders a complete family of scalable servo drives for diverse applications,” said Bill Kegley, director, product management – motion control at Rockwell Automation. “Now with the addition of the Kinetix 5300 to our family of servo drives, we are in a position to deliver truly scalable and intelligent motion solutions that help our customers achieve productivity and sustainability for a wider range of applications.”

[Note: I have been asking for a few years for a working application of CIP Motion at a customer site. If anyone reading this has one, please contact me. If you don’t want mentioned, just say so. In 20 years, I have yet to violate a confidence. But enquiring minds want to know…. Thanks.]

Industrial Readers—Watch Where IT Is Going

The manufacturing market is finally discovering the cloud in a big way. This reminds me of similar technologies such as Ethernet in 2003 when the market suddenly moved from “we don’t trust it” to “get me more”. Professionals in the industrial market are also testing out “edge-to-cloud” calling it Industrial Internet of Things. OPC Foundation has climbed aboard that train. We’ll see more.

But here is news that HPE has finalized its acquisition of Silver Peak, bolstering its vision of “edge-to-cloud transformation.” This vision goes far deeper and broader than IIoT, although it encompasses that…and more.

HPE announced the acquisition of Silver Peak in July. The deal totaled $925 million and brought Silver Peak into the Aruba business unit. Executives said Silver Peak’s SD-WAN [software-defined wide area network] capabilities would pair well with Aruba’s wired and wireless capabilities.

HPE president and CEO Antonio Neri called WAN transformation a crucial element of his company’s Intelligent Edge and edge-to-cloud strategy.

“Armed with a comprehensive SD-WAN portfolio with the addition of Silver Peak, we will accelerate the delivery of a true distributed cloud model and cloud experience for all apps and data wherever they live,” Neri said.

Keerti Melkote, Aruba founder and HPE’s president of Intelligent Edge, said customers want to increase branch connectivity and secure remote workers. As a result, Aruba launched a software-defined branch (SD-branch) solution in 2018 and revamped it earlier this year.

“By combining Silver Peak’s advanced SD-WAN technology with Aruba’s SD-branch and remote worker solutions, customers can simplify branch office and WAN deployments to empower remote workforces, enable cloud-connected distributed enterprises, and transform business operations without compromise,” Melkote said.

New WAN Business

Silver Peak founder and CEO David Hughes now serves as senior vice president Aruba’s WAN business. He said he looks forward to accelerating “edge-to-cloud transformation initiatives.”

“Digital transformation, cloud-first IT architectures, and the need to support a mobile work-from-anywhere workforce are driving enterprises to rethink the network edge,” Hughes said. “The combination of Silver Peak and Aruba will uniquely enable customers to realize the full transformational promise of these IT megatrends.”