ZEDEDA Joins the Linux Foundation’s Margo Project

ZEDEDA works at the Edge—they call it Edge Orchestration–and is joining a standards body. I am not sanguine about these interoperability organizations. Perhaps those of you who use these tools in manufacturing or production could send a note about if (or how) you use these industry standards. I know that the IT industry makes great use of them. I am not so sure about the OT side.

At any rate, there is a new initiative underway that appears to duplicate the work of EdgeX Foundry that was begun several years ago. This one sponsored by the Linux Foundation is called Margo.

This news from ZEDEDA announces that it has joined the Linux Foundation’s Margo project as a steering committee member. Margo is a new open-source project focused on creating open standards for interoperability at the edge for industrial automation environments.

ZEDEDA joins founding members ABB, Capgemini, Microsoft, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric and Siemens in the Margo project. Darren Kimura, ZEDEDA’s president and COO, will be the company’s representative on the steering committee, which also includes a representative from Intel. ZEDEDA co-founder and CTO Erik Nordmark will be part of the technical working group, while senior director of marketing communications and partner marketing Sarah Beaudoin will be part of the marketing working group.

The Margo project represents a significant industry collaboration to define mechanisms for interoperable orchestration of edge applications, workloads and devices. It will deliver the promise of interoperability through an open standard, reference implementation, and comprehensive compliance testing toolkit.

AVEVA Launches New Hybrid Cloud Solution

I heard from Hannover Messe that AVEVA was launching a hybrid/cloud MES solution. Being curious, I was able to talk with Rob McGreevy, Chief Product Officer, AVEVA about this.

Why hybrid cloud MES? Today’s manufacturing is high speed/high volume, need to get closer to the edge, closer to the critical control, the machines, yet we need to move data from edge to cloud. 

I get why edge, but why cloud? The reason for cloud is analytics, being able to use AI for process centerlining comparatives. We can get to predictive prescriptive quality based on hundreds of variables. Predictive usage of sustainable resources. All this becomes more feasible by connecting realtime data from the edge to the cloud.

This further information about the product comes from the press release. Software solution providers keep pushing the ball a bit further at a time.

AVEVA launches hybrid cloud

To mitigate barriers to industrial innovation, AVEVA is launching at Hannover Messe in April its new hybrid cloud Manufacturing Execution System (MES) solution that addresses the supply chain challenges by enabling manufacturing companies to fully visualize and optimize multi-site operations in the cloud.

AVEVA has expanded CONNECT, its industrial intelligence platform with data and visualization services for hybrid Manufacturing Execution System (MES) solutions.

AVEVA’s new hybrid MES solution enables manufacturing companies to manage production data in the cloud, to improve supply chain agility with enterprise-wide visibility into distributed plant operations. This enables companies to optimize their operational performance and sustainability with new insights and guidance provided by advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and data visualization.

AVEVA’s hybrid MES solution combines advanced model-driven MES capabilities at the edge with cloud-based data, analytics and visualization services available on the CONNECT industrial intelligence platform. The ability to collect and securely store data from AVEVA Manufacturing Execution System and process data sources, such as AVEVA PI System and AVEVA’s Operations Control, in a single, secure location in the cloud, makes it easier to aggregate, contextualize and securely share operational data, eliminate organizational data silos, and foster greater collaboration. This unlocks new value from the combined data sets for optimal centerlining of production equipment, soft sensors and predictions that improve quality, throughput and energy use, as well as anomaly detection that gives early insight into production losses before they occur.

PICMG InterEdge and OPAF Partnership to Advance Open Process Control Technology

I wrote a couple of times when some press releases noted support for a new PICMG InterEdge interface for open process automation applications. They’ve announced a formal agreement with OPAF to provide an “official” OPAF edge controller connectivity.

Highlights:

  • Partnership seeks to reduce technology integration, maintenance, and upgrade costs in the process automation industry.
  • Work supports the Open Process Automation Standard (O-PAS), a standard of The Open Group, that defines resilient and scalable process automation system architectures.
  • Collaboration establishes a multi-vendor ecosystem for interoperable, interchangeable edge hardware via specifications like InterEdge.

An explanation from the press release explains, “The partnership fills a gap in edge controller hardware that exists in the O-PAS Standard—an open architectural framework for developing industrial process automation systems, currently being defined by OPAF initiatives.”

To complete and standardize work on an edge controller performed by OPAF member Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), The Open Group Forum evaluated several hardware standards development organizations. The OPAF Members selected PICMG to develop a new open edge hardware technology specification that defines electromechanical interoperability, interchangeability, hot plug capabilities, and compatibility with existing standards such as IEC 61499 and IEC 61131.

The result was the recently ratified InterEdge specification.

I should mention that I saw a similar PICMG computer put forward as a solution for a previous open controller standard. Unfortunately, the vendor selected made a few tweaks in its use of the standard such that its “open” controller actually would not accept cards from competitors. I am certain that OPAF and PICMG will vet suppliers more carefully.

The InterEdge specification introduces a modular open architecture that delivers state-of-the-art I/O abstraction and flexibility and in a common physical form factor. It supports the OPAF and O-PAS goals of reducing integration, maintenance, and upgrade costs in the highly fragmented and largely proprietary process control technology market.

The OPAF and PICMG relationship is ongoing, with work on new versions of the InterEdge specification already underway. Meanwhile, the Open Process Automation Forum has introduced InterEdge to its physical platform subcommittee, who plan to include the specification in an upcoming revision of the O-PAS Standard and devise a set of tests that evaluate conformance to the InterEdge specification.

The InterEdge specification is available now and can be purchased from the PICMG website for $750. 

Secure Edge Management to Disconnected Environments

In brief:

  • Companies can now monitor and manage fleets of edge nodes locally, ensuring continuous secure operations even when cloud connectivity is disrupted.
  • ZEDEDA Edge Sync is the first edge solution that enables customers to manage deployments locally and from the cloud, providing the flexibility to move to the cloud from air-gapped environments.
  • ZEDEDA Edge Sync is the latest addition to ZEDEDA’s Edge Application Services suite. It simplifies the security and management of edge infrastructure and applications at scale.

ZEDEDA continues to update its edge orchestration solution. This update expands its utility.

ZEDEDA, the leader in edge management and orchestration, today announced ZEDEDA Edge Sync, a secure and convenient solution tailored for air-gapped environments and edge deployments lacking consistent cloud connectivity.

Despite advancements in connectivity at the edge, many deployments still face network challenges due to their distributed nature, ultra-secure systems or unreliable connections. ZEDEDA Edge Sync solves these problems by enabling local node management while seamlessly integrating with ZEDEDA’s platform.

Due to their distributed nature, modern edge deployments confront numerous network connectivity challenges. Edge deployments often lack consistent cloud connectivity due to high-security air-gapped environments, unreliable network connectivity, or frequent planned outages. ZEDEDA Edge Sync solves these problems by running on a local network regardless of the network connectivity method and connecting to the ZEDEDA cloud controller when connectivity is restored.

For example, it may be common for a location’s network connection to get interrupted for some time, either planned or unplanned. To avoid any service interruption during the outage, the site operator can ensure that edge nodes are functioning properly and that configuration changes are possible while the outage persists.

This applies even to completely air-gapped deployments where the device can never connect to the outside world once it is deployed. ZEDEDA Edge Sync allows monitoring and changes at a fleet level as long as the local edge nodes have access to the network the ZEDEDA Edge Sync service is on. It eliminates the need for expensive hardware components by running on standard systems and supports varying levels of disconnectedness without compromising functionality.

ZEDEDA Edge Sync provides a management and monitoring API that enables customers to build their own custom integrations, applications, and HMI interfaces on top of it, leveraging ZEDEDA’s API-based approach.

The Eclipse Foundation Unveils 2023 IoT and Edge Commercial Adoption Survey Insights 

The 5th annual Eclipse Foundation IoT and Edge Commercial Adoption Survey actually holds few surprise but shows ongoing trends of investment. I’m not sure if it is good news or worrisome that the C-suite seems to be more involved. These people hold the purse strings, but they also usually hold unrealistic expectations (oversold by engineers?) about the eventual benefits of technology adoption.

The survey includes a comprehensive analysis derived from responses of over 1067 professionals in the IoT and edge computing domain.  Conducted online from April 4 to July 5, 2023, the survey offers valuable insights into the evolving IoT and edge computing ecosystems by identifying the requirements, priorities, and challenges faced by organisations that deploy and use commercial solutions, including those based on open source technologies. 

“Consistent with our previous surveys, the continuous growth and adoption of IoT and edge computing remains evident. The data reflects a notable increase in the number of managed devices and larger investments, indicative of a scale-up in deployments,” said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. “Particularly notable is that the C-suite significantly influences decision-making for IoT and edge investments. This underscores the strategic value that businesses place on solutions based on open technologies in real-world deployments. Open source components are recognised as vital enablers of success.”

Six of the key takeaways from the survey data include:

  • IoT Adoption Surged in 2023: 64% of respondents are now deploying IoT solutions, up from 53% in 2022. An additional 23% plan to deploy within 12-24 months. Less than 5% have no IoT deployment plan.
  • Edge Computing Adoption Holds Steady, Acceleration Anticipated: Adoption of edge computing solutions remains at 33% (same as 2022), with an additional 30% indicating plans to deploy within the next 24 months. 27% are still evaluating edge platforms, while only 10% have no plans to deploy edge solutions.
  • Rising Investments Signal Scale-Up in Production Deployments:  17% of respondents spent between $1-10M in 2023 (more than double that of 2022), growing to 23% in 2024. 5% anticipate spending over $10M. This trend indicates a transition from proof-of-concept to ROI-focused deployments.
  • Growing Number of IoT & Edge Assets per Deployment: Deployments of fewer than 1K managed assets will remain steady or decline, while larger deployments are on the rise, with an impressive 10% of deployments consisting of 50K or more devices. Regarding asset implementation, the mix between greenfield and brownfield is almost equal.
  • IoT is Increasingly Strategic with the C-Suite Driving Investment Decisions: 49% of organisations reveal that the C-suite predominantly drives decisions. This marks a significant increase from the 38% reported in 2022, indicating a growing influence of top-level executives in shaping investment choices within the realm of IoT and edge technologies.
  • 75% of Organisations Surveyed Embrace Open Source in IoT and Edge: 75% of organisations are actively incorporating open source into their deployment plans. The widespread use of IoT and edge solutions based on open source technologies highlights how open source has become key in shaping today’s technology landscape.

The IoT and Edge Commercial Adoption Survey is sponsored by the Eclipse IoT and Sparkplug Working Groups. It serves as a valuable complement to the annual IoT Developer Survey, a vital source of strategic insights from the development front lines. The Eclipse IoT community represents one of the largest IoT-focused open source collaborations in the world, with 45 members and over 50 projects. Eclipse IoT projects have been broadly adopted by leading organisations across a variety of verticals to deliver commercial IoT and edge-based solutions and services.

5G Edge Computing Industrial IoT Cellular Solution

Computing at the Edge of the network remains a crucial and growing part of a plant’s architecture. Digi International positioned itself as an enabler of data transmission for a long time. This news is a new product exploiting some of the 5G cellular technology benefits.

Digi International announced market launch of Digi IX40, a 5G edge computing industrial IoT cellular router solution. Digi IX40 is purpose-built for Industry 4.0 use cases such as advanced robotics, predictive maintenance, asset monitoring, industrial automation and smart manufacturing. Fully integrated with Digi Remote Manager, this solution’s capabilities improve security and scalability while ensuring speed, reliability and efficiency.

Digi IX40 integrates Digi Remote Manager (Digi RM) for rapid configuration, automated security monitoring and simplified management. Digi RM — the cloud-based command center for IoT deployments — gives businesses critical insights into their network operations for more data-driven decisions. Likewise, Digi RM supports secure terminal access for out-of-band management of edge devices via serial ports and a command-line interface.

Key Digi IX40 features include:

  • Global 5G and LTE support for public and private cellular networks
  • Integrated edge computing capabilities for applications requiring edge intelligence and real-time processing
  • The Digi Accelerated Linux operating system (DAL OS)
  • Simplified configuration and management with Digi Remote Manager
  • FIPS 140-2 validation for encryption of sensitive data
  • Ethernet, SFP, serial, I/O and Modbus bridging
  • Powerful failover options, including fiber and 4G LTE for ultimate redundancy
  • Digi SureLink, VRRP+ and dual SIMs for resilient cellular connectivity
  • GNSS receiver supporting GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo
  • License-free enterprise software: VPN, firewall, logging and authentication
  • Rugged enclosure with DIN rail and shelf mounting options
  • FirstNet Capable models to meet the demands of emergency response

Digi Containers, a Digi value-added service, augments the Digi IX40 solution to facilitate cost-effective applications via lightweight Linux containers, giving businesses additional flexibility and scalability for their Industry 4.0 initiatives. Digi is proud to provide not only a Digi Containers solution for customers who want to run their own custom applications or binaries on Digi IX40, but we also provide vetted access to software from leaders in the Industry 4.0, Networking 2.0, and industrial protocol services.

Digi WAN bonding, an add-on service available through Digi Remote Manager, provides ultra-fast, ultra-reliable network connectivity. Digi WAN Bonding enables users to centrally set up, deploy, and manage the bonding of multiple WAN Internet connections together on Digi IX40 for a combination of increased throughput speeds, WAN smoothing, packet redundancy, and seamless failover for always-on Internet connectivity. Digi WAN Bonding can scale to hundreds or thousands of sites to ensure you are getting the most robust connectivity for your entire fleet or network that is always ready, always online.

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