ISA Announces First Founding Members of Global Cybersecurity Alliance

ISA Announces First Founding Members of Global Cybersecurity Alliance

The International Society of Automation (ISA) held a press conference today to announce the first Founding Members of its new Global Cybersecurity Alliance (GCA): Schneider Electric, Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Claroty, and Nozomi Networks.

As we would expect, the speakers emphasized the importance of standards as the foundation for work in the Alliance. Speakers also tied in safety and productivity as partners with cybersecurity in protecting and improving manufacturing and critical infrastructure facilities and processes. I’m not so sure just exactly what the Alliance will accomplish, but if it succeeds in just raising awareness and a sense of urgency among companies it the industries, it will have accomplished an important task.

ISA created the Global Cybersecurity Alliance to advance cybersecurity readiness and awareness in manufacturing and critical infrastructure facilities and processes. The Alliance brings end-user companies, automation and control systems providers, IT infrastructure providers, services providers, and system integrators and other cybersecurity stakeholder organizations together to proactively address growing threats.

ISA is the developer of the ANSI/ISA 62443 series of automation and control systems cybersecurity standards, which have been adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission as IEC 62443 and endorsed by the United Nations. The standards define requirements and procedures for implementing electronically secure automation and industrial control systems and security practices and assessing electronic security performance. The standards approach the cybersecurity challenge in a holistic way, bridging the gap between operations and information technology.

Leveraging the ISA/IEC 62443 standards, the Global Cybersecurity Alliance will work to increase awareness and expertise, openly share knowledge and information, and develop best practice tools to help companies navigate the entire lifecycle of cybersecurity protection. The Alliance will work closely with government agencies, regulatory bodies, and stakeholder organizations around the world.

“Accelerating and expanding globally relevant standards, certification, and education programs will increase workforce competence, and help end users identify gaps, reduce risks, and ensure they have the tools and systems they need to protect their facilities and installations,” said Mary Ramsey, ISA Executive Director. “Through the proliferation of standards and compliance programs, we will strengthen our global cyber culture and transform the way industry identifies and manages cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities to their operations.”

The press release notes that first Founding Members of the Alliance are leading multi-national, industrial-technology providers with deep expertise in technology and applications, and they’ll apply their experience and knowledge to accomplish the Alliance’s priorities. However, two of the members were represented by building automation divisions. Two of the members are cybersecurity suppliers. Rockwell Automation is a pure play factory and process automation company and its Maverick Technologies division has been an ardent supporter of ISA. Schneider Electric is a large, multi-disciplined company, and I’m not sure which division within it is the sponsor.

“Participating in the Alliance truly shows the commitment our founding members have to the safety and security of the industrial ecosystem, as well as the criticality of collectively moving forward together to ensure the standards, best practices and methods are applied,” Ramsey said.

“ISA engaged with discussions, initiated by Schneider Electric, to create an ISA-led global, open and industry-wide alliance comprised of all cybersecurity stakeholder companies. ISA quickly expanded those conversations to include Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Claroty, and Nozomi Networks. These first Founding Members have since worked together to help us define the Alliance’s objectives. We are thankful for their collaboration and commitment. Together we welcome companies and organizations from all segments of industry to join our efforts.”

The Alliance is seeking additional members to support its initiatives. End-user companies, asset owners, automation and control systems providers, IT infrastructure providers, services providers, and system integrators and other cybersecurity stakeholder organizations are invited to join. Annual contributions to fund initiatives are based on company revenues and are tax-deductible.

Perspectives: Quotes from the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance Founding Members

“Over the last few years, global industry has recognized that taking on increasingly dangerous cyber risks can’t be limited to a single company, segment, or region. However, until now, there has been limited ability to respond as a unified whole to these worldwide threats. But by establishing an open, collaborative, and transparent body, with a focus on strengthening people, processes, and technology, we can drive true cultural change. We are pleased that ISA has stepped forward, and we look forward to working openly and collaboratively with them, our fellow Founding Members, and many others affiliated with global industry, especially end users. Together we will bring to bear the standards-based technology, expertise, and special skills required to better secure and protect the world’s most critical operations and the people and communities we serve.” — Klaus Jaeckle, Chief Product Security Officer, Schneider Electric

“Cybersecurity is critical to digital transformation. It’s critical not only for the protection of information and intellectual property, but also for the protection of physical assets, the environment, and worker safety. We make it a priority to collaborate with partners and research institutions to develop secure products. Rockwell Automation participated in the development of the 62443 standards from the beginning and continues to support ISA cybersecurity initiatives. Our engagement with the Global Cybersecurity Alliance will be another important step in our efforts to help customers identify and mitigate risks.” — Blake Moret, CEO, Rockwell Automation

“Cybersecurity is the great equalizer to all companies. It’s critical to the connected world we live in and the cornerstone of trust that the world needs to be able to operate. Whether protecting critical infrastructure or managing a building’s operations, users need to do this with the confidence the employed systems are robust and secure. We are committed to and proud to work together ISA and the GCA members to continue to drive the adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 series of standards and identify further ways to secure and protect the connected world which we live. At Honeywell, we see cybersecurity as a core part of the future we are making, and we see the GCA as an important way to work together to make that happen.” — Matthew Bohne, Vice President and Chief of Product Security, Honeywell Building Technologies

“Digital transformation in the building sector continues to accelerate, which heightens the urgency for cybersecurity across the industry and beyond. As a leader in the industrial automation controls business, Johnson Controls is already a strategic member of the ISASecure program and is consistently taking proactive actions to protect customers against cyber-threats and risks. Joining ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance is a necessary and meaningful step as it supports our company values, customer adoption of the ISA/IEC 62443 standard and efforts to educate global government and regulatory bodies. We are proud to solidify our commitment to this important effort.” — Jason Christman, Vice President, Chief Product Security Officer, Global Products, Johnson Controls

“One of the most effective ways to drive consistency in an industry is by putting standards in place, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with all of these founding members, as well as future Alliance members, to help drive global best-practices forward in this historically standard-less environment. Claroty is committed to the mission of protecting all IoT and OT networks from cyber risks. Through our work with the Global Cybersecurity Alliance, we will be able to help shape the future of cybersecurity in these high-risk industries.” — Dave Weinstein, Chief Security Officer, Claroty

“Nozomi Networks believes real community collaboration, actionable standards and effective education are key ensuring a secure future for industrial organizations around the world. That’s why we are helping develop secure-by-design standards as a working member of ISA99 standards committees, why we’ve designed our industrial cyber security solutions for easy integration across the broadest possible set of industrial and IT technologies; and why we are thrilled to help establish the Global Cybersecurity Alliance. Together we will build a secure future for the industrial infrastructure that runs the world.” — Andrea Carcano, Nozomi Networks Co-founder and Chief Product Officer

Magazine Media Group Goes Political

Magazine Media Group Goes Political

The publishing industry has intrigued me for most of my life. The last third or so of it I spent working within that industry. Both print and digital. I remain curious about where the industry is going.

I had four bosses in the time I spent with magazine publishing. One of them had the temerity to tell me that I was the “print” guy and they needed a “web” guy. I gently reminded him that I was deeply enmeshed in the Internet when he was beginning elementary school. I was exploring the World Wide Web when it was brand new poised to displace all the proprietary things such as AOL and Prodigy. This blog began in 2003. You can still find all of the posts even though it is on its third platform.

But I still watch the print side. Publishing is a very tough business right now. Especially in industrially oriented niches. The ratio when I began was 35% editorial/65% ads at Cahners/Reed. Check the ratios today. It’s tough. You need to be an astute manager to make money in today’s market.

It’s broader than industrial. Take this article I saw as a sign.

MPA — The Association of Magazine Media, the nonprofit trade group that represents around 75 of the largest consumer magazine publishers in the U.S., as well as suppliers and other industry stakeholders, is leaving New York after 100 years and relocating its headquarters to Washington, D.C.

The move, precipitated by a board of directors vote last week, represents a reallocation of resources, prioritizing lobbying and government advocacy over the association’s other activities, such as advertiser and agency outreach, consumer marketing and research, according to an MPA spokeswoman.

“In looking at priorities, the Board identified D.C.-based advocacy work around issues such as postal, ad tax, consumer privacy, the First Amendment and data and subscription marketing, among others, to be the most important and in need of the most resources,” Susan Russ, the MPA’s senior VP of communications, tells Folio:. “This work contributes directly to our members’ bottom lines.”

MPA’s most senior staffer going forward will be Brigitte Gwyn, executive VP of government affairs, an experienced K Street lobbyist who joined the association earlier this year and will continue running its D.C. office.

This looks like an industry protecting it’s rear flank rather than confidently looking into the future.

Digital isn’t much better in aggregate. Advertising money keeps gravitating toward the evil threesome—Amazon, Facebook, Google.

Alternatively, subscriptions as the main source of income does not scale. I just signed up to subscribe to Tim Ferriss’ podcasts. He was thinking subscriptions in lieu of sponsors. The experiment last two weeks. Even someone as famous as he couldn’t scale subscriptions.

People, including me, love free media. But somehow we all have to eat. I don’t think politics is the answer. It’s the same as the idiots who think the way to profits in manufacturing is through cutting costs and eliminating people. Never works in the long run.

Open Source IoT Project Reaching Maturity

Open Source IoT Project Reaching Maturity

It is great to see things mature–whether kids or adults or technologies. Or an open source project called EdgeX Foundry. Yesterday I had the pleasure of two exciting teleconferences regarding the latest release of EdgeX Foundry, named Edinburgh, from the Linux Foundation’s LF Edge organization. I’ve had many conversations with Jason Shepherd, LF Edge Board Member and Dell Technologies IoT and Edge Computing CTO, over the past three years. When we finally got a chance to catch up yesterday afternoon, he could not have concealed his excitement had he tried.

I have written about EdgeXFoundry here from Hannover 2017, again in 2018, and when incorporated in Linux Foundation’s LF Edge umbrella. This IoT platform is more than a platform. During my Hannover visits of 2017 and 2018 it seemed that all God’s children need to develop their own IoT platform. Of course, when a company develops a platform the goal is to connect as many apps as possible to its main application.

I have also been involved with organizations trying to accomplish this same thing through standards. Problem is, you just can’t get technology supplier companies to sign up for a platform that forces their products to be subservient to standards. The better approach is Loosely Coupled (book by Doug Kaye).

 The first conversation was with Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation, and Keith Steele, chair of the EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee and CEO of IOTech. They walked me through the release and its meaning.

Important takeaway–This Open Source IoT Platform/Ecosystem is now stable and ready for PrimeTime.

Highlights:

  • Enables IoT digital transformation for Enterprise, Industrial, Retail and Consumer
  • Supports complementary products and services from global open ecosystem including commercial support, training and customer pilot programs 
  • Deployed in many end user projects; EdgeX also collaborates with IIC on AI testbeds and is the foundation for the Open Retail Initiative (ORI)

Created collaboratively by a global ecosystem, EdgeX Foundry’s new release is a key enabler of digital transformation for IoT use cases and is a platform for real-world applications both for developers and end users across many vertical markets. EdgeX community members have created a range of complementary products and services, including commercial support, training and customer pilot programs and plug-in enhancements for device connectivity, applications, data and system management and security.

Launched in April 2017, and now part of the LF Edge umbrella, EdgeX Foundry is an open source, loosely-coupled microservices framework that provides the choice to plug and play from a growing ecosystem of available third party offerings or to augment proprietary innovations. With a focus on the IoT Edge, EdgeX simplifies the process to design, develop and deploy solutions across industrial, enterprise, and consumer applications. 

Thefourth release in the EdgeX roadmap, Edinburgh offers a stable API baseline for the standardization of IoT edge applications that future-proof IoT investments by fostering an ecosystem of interoperable microservice-based capabilities and decoupling investments in edge functionality in areas such as connectivity, security and management from any given backend application or cloud. The EdgeX framework is designed to facilitate the secure deployment and management of devices and applications at the edge to accelerate time-to-market and enable new data-based services and capabilities such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

“Since its launch, EdgeX Foundry has experienced significant momentum in developing an open platform that can serve as the industry framework for IoT and edge-related applications,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “EdgeX Foundry is one of the anchor projects for LF Edge and Edinburgh release is a major step in unifying open source frameworks across IoT, Enterprise, Cloud and Telco Edge.”

“Having started the EdgeX movement with a small team at Dell before contributing the code to the Linux Foundation, it’s certainly amazing to see the traction we’ve gotten through open, vendor neutral collaboration in a few short years,” said Jason Shepherd, former chair of the EdgeX Foundry Governing Board and IoT and Edge CTO, Dell Technologies. “It’s a testament to the power of the network effect in the open source community which ultimately enables developers to focus on value rather than reinvention.” 

EdgeX Foundry’s community adoption continues to accelerate. Currently, there are more than 100 unique contributors to the project and code downloads are approaching 5,000 a month at a 75% month-to-month growth rate. Momentum is expected to continue with EdgeX’s Edinburgh releaseand rapidly growing commercial support in the ecosystem. 

Key features for this release include:

  • Stability: Stable API’s protecting future investment and supporting future long term support
  • Connectivity:More SDKs for north and southbound connectivity and a wider range of standard connectors
  • New Features: Significant new features, including binary data support, database swapability and improved APIs to help facilitate management/monitoring capability
  • Global Support:Support from the global EdgeX Foundry ecosystem – as well as the broader LF Edge umbrella community – that offers a range of complementary products and services

“With this EdgeX Edinburgh release, we will radically change how businesses develop and deploy IoT edge solutions,” said Keith Steele, chair of the EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee and CEO of IOTech. “Edinburgh is a significant milestone that showcases the commercial viability of EdgeX Foundry and the impact that it will have on the global IoT edge landscape.”

Learn more aboutdocumentation, a new use caseand the technical details for theEdinburgh releaseon the EdgeX website.  

Market Utilization of EdgeX Foundry 

Since the project inception, there have been tens of thousands of trials and pilot deployments of the EdgeX framework in the field and many of these are converting to production with the Edinburgh release. Several organizations already provide commercial solutions based on EdgeX, with many others folding it into their product roadmaps. For example:

  • Edge Xpert:From IOTech Systems, Edge Xpert uses the latest stable release of EdgeX Foundry to create a commercially supported solution from the baseline open source technology. IOTech will also soon announce hard real-time extensions to EdgeX.
  • MFX-1 IoT Edge Gateway: From Mainflux, the MFX-1 IoT Edge Gateway based on the EdgeX Foundry framework, is an edge computing solution supported with the EdgeFlux application for gateway management. Integrated with Mainflux IoT Cloud Platform it provides comprehensive Cloud /Edge IoT System.
  • NetFoundry Ziti Edge: NetFoundry’s Ziti Edge provides programmable, software-only “Northbound” connectivity for EdgeX Gateway applications and services. Based on Zero Trust security principles, with integrations for HW root of trust based identity and Trusted Execution Environments (TEE), Ziti Edge delivers secure “Silicon-to-Cloud” connectivity, using any Internet connection, while keeping both sides of the connection “dark” to the Internet.
  • VMware Supports EdgeX: Developers who deploy any combination of EdgeX Foundry and/or Project Photon OS with VMware Pulse IoT Center can receive support from VMware for both Pulse IoT Center and EdgeX open source software. When used with Pulse IoT Center’s device management capabilities, open source tools such as EdgeX offer developers increased control over how, when, and where they run their applications and manage their data.

The EdgeX framework is also being leveraged in various industry collaborations. For example, in collaboration with the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) EdgeX is used as the foundation for the Optimizing Manufacturing Processes by Artificial Intelligence (OMPAI) testbed which explores the application of AI and industrial internet technologies, deployed from the edge to the cloud, to optimize automotive manufacturing processes. EdgeX is also the foundation for the Open Retail Initiative (ORI) which has the goal of facilitating open innovation within the retail/commerce space.  Work for the ORI is manifested within the Commerce Working Group in the EdgeX project and initial target use cases include computer vision-assisted advanced loss prevention. 

Planning Ahead

Later this summer, the first EdgeX Foundry ecosystem hackathon will be hosted in the Bay Area. This initial event will be tied to the Commerce Working Group, hosted by Intel within the EdgeX project, with various award categories for implementation of the EdgeX framework in retail use cases. The best all-around winner will get to showcase their solution at future LF Edge or EdgeX Foundry events. Details will be available in late July via the EdgeX website, email list and Slack channel.

Additionally, LF Edge will host a workshop entitled “State of the (LF) Edge” on August 20 in San Diego, Calif., co-located with  Open Source Summit North America(August 21-23).  More details are available here.

Support from Contributing Members and Users of EdgeX Foundry

  • “EdgeX Foundry is the key component of Beechwoods IoT gateway solution that allows our customers to engage confidently in edge computing technology. With the Edinburgh release, this solution will be ready to transition from customer engagement to product deployment.” – Brad Kemp, President, Beechwoods Software
  • “The Edinburgh release of EdgeX Foundry brings much needed standardization and stability for edge computing in production environments through an open source, common framework. The availability of the EdgeX Foundry snap enables developers an easy path to getting started with EdgeX Foundry, and benefit from confinement, easy integration into their own infrastructure, and automatic updates. In addition, this release introduces new device snaps providing integration with MQTT and ModBus.”- Loic Minier, IoT Field Engineering Director, Canonical
  • “As EdgeX Foundry reaches maturity with the Edinburgh release, CloudPlugs is excited to also announce the integration of the CloudPlugs IIoT platform with the open EdgeX ecosystem.  CloudPlugs IoT is a robust backend to deploy, orchestrate and manage EdgeX-compliant devices and micro service-based applications, as well as to manage and visualize field data. The EdgeX framework provides new levels of flexibility in field-level interoperability and the combination of EdgeX with CloudPlugs IoT delivers a powerful, end-to-end software and service stack to digitize assets and to deploy commercial and industrial IoT solutions at scale.” – Jimmy Garcia-Meza, CEO, CloudPLugs Inc.    
  • “EdgeX Foundry provides an important software platform standardizing on the south bound IoT device connectivity and northbound data storage connectivity and allows vendors to plug-in their core IoT capabilities in between. FogHorn is aligned with this data ingestion and publication standardization and will continue to collaborate as appropriate.” – Sastry Malladi, CTO, FogHorn
  • “The EdgeX platform offers HMS Networks a path to quickly build Industrial IoT solutions by providing predefined set of services for I/O functionality. HMS has created a J1939 service for EdgeX platform to help simplify IoT solutions for the commercial vehicle telemetry market. Ultimately, the EdgeX platform will significantly reduce the R&D investment required to create a majority of the Industrial IoT applications required in the market today.” – Tom McKinney, Director Engineering Services and Business Development, HMS Networks 
  • “EdgeX Foundry is an important project arriving at the right time. It promises to connect devices to capabilities, and then get out of the way so you can run containerized workloads to generate insights, run model scoring, or detect anomalies… all at the edge. IBM is collaborating with EdgeX Foundry as part of our hybrid cloud strategy to help enterprises unlock the value of data from on-premises to the cloud to the edge.” – David Boloker, Distinguished Engineer, IBM
  • “EdgeX Foundry’s open source platform enables the industrial software ecosystem to integrate rapidly with ioTium’s managed services converged infrastructure offering – it’s microservices framework with open APIs is a powerful driver in the fragmented Industrial Control Systems market. ioTium enables rapid scalable deployment of the EdgeX Foundry framework globally.”- Ron Victor, CEO, ioTium  
  • “EdgeX Foundry provides an open framework for ease of design, development, & deployment at the Edge, while addressing stringent security,  privacy & compliance requirements. NetFoundry added its vendor-agnostic, connectivity-as-code solution to  EdgeX in order to enable developers and integrators to get similar ease of use, security and performance for their northbound application connectivity to core, clouds and service meshes. With the release of the EdgeX Edinburgh release, the EdgeX Foundry developer community has all the tools needed to deliver on market needs and ensure secure, agile innovation at the Edge” – Galeal Zino, CEO, NetFoundry Inc.
  • “As Digital Transformation for IoT gathers momentum, companies are demanding the same reliability, performance and security at the edge as they are used to getting from their Cloud Computing stack. With this release, EdgeX with Redis Labs RedisEdge not only delivers upon those expectations, but provides an ecosystem of open source technologies and plug-ins such as Redis Modules that help developers innovate.” – Dave Nielsen, Head of Community and Ecosystem Programs, Redis Labs
  • “EdgeX Foundry addresses the problem of the license stack at the IoT Edge constantly increasing in cost by providing a well architected, high performance, open source platform that can be used for industrial solutions today.” – Mike Malone, Vice President, Technotects, Inc.
  • “EdgeX Foundry’s global community ecosystem has experienced explosive growth, and the tangible advances delivered in the EdgeX  Edinburgh release are exciting developments for edge computing. We fully support EdgeX Foundry’s goals to establish an open interoperable framework for edge computing to provide developers with increased control over how, when, where and with whom they run their applications and manage their data. We look forward to continuing our contributions to the EdgeX Foundry community and related efforts in fostering open industry-wide innovation such as the Open Retail initiative.” – Mimi Spier, Vice President, Edge and IoT Business, VMware
  • “As a founding member of LF Edge, Wipro is proud to have contributed to the Edinburgh release. We will continue to actively participate as it is a key platform for delivering open, microservices-based, edge IoT applications for today’s interoperable distributed enterprise world.” – Andrew Aitken, general manager and global open source practice leader, Wipro Limited.
  • “ZEDEDA’s vision is to free cloud-native and legacy apps to run on any edge device anywhere in the world. This vision drives our support for EdgeX Foundry and its mission of promoting open interoperability between edge devices. We’ve made our virtualization solutions compatible with EdgeX releases because we believe they will have a central role in our industry’s future.” – Joel Vincent, VP Marketing, ZEDEDA
Sending Information to The Manufacturing Connection

Sending Information to The Manufacturing Connection

I receive enough feedback to believe that this is a well read blog in the industry. Not bad for what may be the only independent blog in the industry. Others I read are good (I continue to point readers to Jim Cahill’s Emerson Automation Experts as the model for doing it correctly) but they are company blogs. Nothing wrong with that. Just a different take. And I know of one that is a business in itself selling programs to companies and offering a different venue for company thought leaders.

Not only is the blog well read by engineers, managers, and executives, many marketing and public relations people come across this place, too. So, I get lots of pitches. In the IT industry, marketing has a category called influencers. Influencer marketing people know how to feed us information. Since everyone else in the controls and automation market similar to me is a publication, they tend to pitch me as if I were still at a magazine. Hint: I left that industry six years ago so that I could be my own person and be digital only. And, while I sincerely appreciate my sponsors and run ads for them, the business model has not been to make a majority of income from those. That is my financial foundation. Over the years, I’ve traded my expertise and knowledge of industrial businesses for custom research, analysis, and consulting.

With that as a background, the following is a general note for all the marketing and press relations people who stumble across my writing. I love you all, and I appreciate the work you do. I’m just a little different (well, a lot different).

I write a blog. There is no editorial calendar or “special issue” designed to attract advertisers. I’m interested in things I can think about. And I write everything–no contributed articles. It may be news, a tech trend, a significant new product or perhaps acquisition, and the like. It may come from press release or interview or something I see on the web. As the “connection” part of my blog name (have it because I could get the domain name, of course) implies, my interest is connecting—things, people, companies, ideas.

So, just feed me. If your CTO or someone in that office has something to say, ping me. I’ll take a look at a press release. If I can glean something out of the ordinary, I’ll use it to riff on. Otherwise, I am hungry to learn what is happening in the industry.

Supposing I have read a release. If I were still in the magazine business, we would have taken it verbatim, posted it on the Web, and then inserted it in the print magazine. The sales person would send a note to the marketing person notifying them that we were covering ABB, and by the way, want to buy an ad. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just a different business model. And one that is increasingly tough to sustain.

For me, this tidbit of a press release leaves me hungry to know more. I’d love a little more detail. I’m sure there must be an Internet of Things angle. Then rather than just calling out the product name, I’d love to know something of the hardware connections throughout the system. I’d love to know more about the analytics—is there ML involved that builds on the accumulating date for example?

I like to teach people considering a project something about what is involved in researching, designing, and implementing a system. Many times I have fielded inquiries from executives with just that question. And then, I would have a value-add and the company would show real expertise. I realize that this means more work for the marketing and PR teams. I sympathize. However, setting up a 30-minute interview would pay off for you, me, and the thousands of readers who stop by here.

Thanks for listening.

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SCADA in the Cloud Developer Acquired by Emerson

When I was as-a-service offerings in the wake of my trip to HPE Discover 2019, I mentioned Inductive Automation as an example in the industrial market. There is actually another company. I’ve never heard about it—bad on my part. It’s called Zedi Solutions. I didn’t know if it was just the Canadian way of pronouncing “z” (we Americans say “zee” and there rest of the English-speaking world says “zed”) or a play on “Jedi”. Well, there’s a rocket with a window on its Web page.

Zedi Solutions is a company no more. Emerson’s methodically growing digital transformation presence was just enhanced through the acquisition of its cloud-based supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) platform.

Emerson states that the acquisition of Zedi’s software will enable it to help oil and gas producers increase production and lower operating costs through cloud-based monitoring, control and optimization.

“As world energy demand continues to grow, helping our vital oil and gas market customers maximize their resources is a top priority,” said Lal Karsanbhai, executive president of Emerson’s Automation Solutions business. “Through our vast portfolio of automation technologies, we are helping the industry navigate ever-changing market dynamics and operational challenges. The addition of Zedi strengthens our ability to help customers leverage the latest advances from the field to the refinery.”

Zedi’s technology is currently enabling customers to monitor more than 2 million sensors and thousands of devices and applications. By combining Zedi’s scalable cloud platform and applications expertise with Emerson’s extensive applications, controller, instrumentation and flow metering portfolio, this acquisition expands opportunities for Emerson across the global oil and gas production market.

“Oil and gas producers today are challenged to meet production targets while controlling costs, and they are looking for opportunities to transform operations and make their teams more effective through digital solutions like analytics and mobility,” said Jim Nyquist, group president of Emerson’s systems and solutions business. “This important investment bolsters our portfolio and ability to help Emerson’s customers achieve Top Quartile performance through emerging Industrial Internet of Things technologies.”

Emerson and Zedi’s software and automation businesses share a common vision of automating the production process through edge and cloud analytics and machine learning. The combined software and expertise of the two companies will provide producers with scalable and easily deployable end-to-end connected solutions to optimize and manage their operations.

Zedi’s software and automation businesses are based in Calgary, Canada, with approximately 155 employees in North America.

Emerson tried the SCADA acquisition route many years ago with the acquisition of Intellution. It subsequently sold that company to GE and it became a foundation for GE Digital. The company just wasn’t a fit at the time. Even though I don’t know Zedi, I have a feel that this will work out far better for Emerson. For one thing, times and markets have changed. For another, Emerson is already more advanced in software than it was 20 years ago.

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Forging Abundance, Engineering the Big Challenges

Do you want to devote your life and engineering talents building social websites designed to trick people into giving you their personal data so that your company can sell it and the founder and his friends become billionaires? Or, would you rather do something significant, forging abundance, engineering the big challenge to help people survive and thrive?

I miss spending a week of my Augusts in Austin, Texas. No, not for the 105 deg F outside and 65 deg F inside the convention center. It was for National Instruments’ NI Week user conference. Some of the brightest engineers I knew worked there or were customers and the pursuit of solving big engineering challenges was palpable.

NI now focuses on instrumentation for solving those big challenges. Being out of my normal area of coverage, they don’t contact me anymore. But it’s still a cool company. Infected a little by “big company disease”, but still cool.

I thought about that while reading the latest Abundance Insider Newsletter from Peter Diamandis. This guy is crazy—crazy smart, that is. If you aren’t receiving the newsletter and following him, click here and start getting it. You may not totally agree, but it’ll blow your mind for sure.

Diamandis originated the X Prize to encourage accomplishing big, hairy, audacious ideas.

Here are some examples from the latest newsletter and a bonus thrown in from a podcast.

Renewable Energy

What: Siemens Gamesa is now leveraging the Earth’s surface for a future of energy abundance. The large-scale renewable energy technology manufacturer has just begun operations of what it claims is the world’s first electrothermal energy storage system. Already, Siemens Gamesa has turned a section of volcanic rock into a massive organic battery, capable of storing up to 130 megawatt-hours of energy for a week. The company additionally reports that its electrothermal energy storage system is significantly less expensive than conventional storage solutions. If we can begin to harness organic material for energy storage, how would this influence the modern-day power grid and storage solutions?

Why it’s important: Renewable energy has long been promoted as an alternative solution to fossil fuels and other contemporary sources of energy. However, their oft-cited limitation is that of energy storage. If Siemens Gamesa demonstrates the successful scale-up of its sustainable solution to the storage problem, pervasive implementation of renewable energy sources would become a much more feasible option, and long-term implications would abound. If communities could soon store energy beneath their homes for extended periods of time, how might this influence real estate values and opportunities for expansion? What new microgrid networks and local economies would arise?

City of the Future?

What it is: Long in the works, Sidewalk Labs’ plan to build out a high-tech utopia on Toronto’s waterfront is now out. While still subject to a thorough public vetting process — principally by government-appointed, non-profit partner Waterfront Toronto — the plan outlines an urban model for integrated smart cities of the future. Dubbed “the most innovative district in the world” by Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff, the pitch’s most pioneering components include autonomous vehicle networks, ubiquitous public Wi-Fi, an 89 percent reduction in greenhouse gases, and countless sensors for collection of “urban data” to optimize civil engineering decisions.

Why it’s important: Already, Sidewalk Labs’ comprehensive plan has been projected to help create 44,000 jobs and generate $4.3 billion in annual tax revenue. Sidewalk Labs has additionally stated it will spend $1.3 billion on the project with the aim of spurring $38 billion in private sector investment by 2040. Beyond the targeted district, however, a materialized smart city plan could become an ideal testing ground for next-generation breakthrough technologies and automated ecosystems that provide seamlessly delivered public services and predictive routing.

Human-like Prosthetics

What it is: A team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has made extraordinary headway in the field of high-tech prosthetics, creating a bionic arm that functions smoothly without a brain implant. Previous robotic prosthetics required a patient to undergo high-risk, invasive surgery for a brain implant to achieve maximum robotic mobility. This arm, however, bridges the gap between seamless function and non-surgical bionics. In one instance, it was shown capable of following a computer screen cursor in real time without exhibiting the jerky motions and intermittent delays typical of other non-surgical mind-controlled prosthetics.

Why it’s important: This innovation represents a fundamental leap in the age-old mission to enhance the quality of life and autonomy of individuals who have lost a limb. By improving prosthetic quality at significantly diminished risk, non-invasive bionics no longer require patients to risk their health to enjoy long-term use of a high-functioning, mind-controlled limb. As brain-computer interface (BCI) technology continues to surge forward, we are quickly charting the path to a future wherein responsive prosthetics will serve countless uses, from limb replacement to assistive aids in any number of industries and professions.

Repurpose your Chem E (or other) Degree For Greater Good

In an interview on TechNation with Moira Gunn, Neil Kumar, CEO of Bridge Bio and a Chem E , talked of reflecting when he was in school that the traditional industries that employed Chem Es were on the decline—Oil & Gas and Plastics. So he looked around and focused on biopharma. He noted that many of the startups in that market were engineers with a Chem E background. His company has developed a new model for addressing genetically-driven diseases affecting a small number of patients.

Conclusion

Is it time to start thinking bigger about the contribution you can make to society (and yourself and family)? Instrumentation, control, automation, data—these are all technologies and skills that can lead to a better life than trapping people on their smart phones in an app that sucks you dry.

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