ZEDEDA Launches Edge Computing Application Services Suite

I’ve not seen much in the way of investment in traditional automation products. The larger companies now all call themselves software companies with investments devoted to acquisitions. Many smaller companies and startups either have a software niche or are working on a variety of edge applications.

A long-time contact from the IT world introduced me to ZEDEDA a few years ago and even asked me to appear on a couple of their webcasts. Its niche is called edge orchestration, and it has some significant investors. This new introduction  is called Edge Application Services. This platform includes granular edge application controls and configuration services. The initial component of the platform, Edge Access, provides secure access, control and audit tracing for edge deployments.

Edge computing is required to manage and process that data, but the complexity of distributed environments can make it difficult for customers to get started quickly. Enabling access to core services can provide an on-ramp for organizations to benefit from an initial edge use case while also establishing a foundation for future growth, just as was seen previously with cloud adoption.

“Just as we saw occur with the cloud providers in the early days, it is time for the edge market to evolve beyond just infrastructure and begin to offer value-added services in addition,” said Said Ouissal, founder and CEO of ZEDEDA. “Now, with ZEDEDA Edge Application Services, we are able to offer our customers the ability to manage, configure and control their edge applications simply by leveraging the ZEDEDA ecosystem.”

The first service in the suite, ZEDEDA Edge Access, enables IT administrators and platform operations teams to instantly access any remote device from any location at any time. It is a simple solution that provides secure access, control and audit tracing for edge deployments.

ZEDEDA’s open, distributed, cloud-native edge management and orchestration solution has attracted strategic OEM and customer relationships with Global 500 companies, including Emerson, Rockwell Automation, and VMware. The company continues to quadruple the number of edge nodes it has under management annually, scaling toward a hundred thousand edge nodes and has raised more than $55 million in capital from investors, including Coast Range Capital, Lux Capital, Energize Ventures, Porsche Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, Emerson Ventures, Juniper Networks, Rockwell Automation, Samsung Next and EDF North America Ventures.

OPC, MQTT, IoT, Edge, Power Future Manufacturing Technology

There was a time when I would take information from OPC Foundation and chat with the MQTT people and then return the favor. It was much like being in the midst of a religious war.

My response was (is) that the market will decide. Individual engineers will choose the solution that best fits their needs at the time. If both technologies have sufficient benefit to enough engineers to form a market, then both will survive. I think there is room in the market for both, since they sort of do the same thing, but actually each provides unique benefits.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while since I’ve had so many other things to digest. The impetus came from a couple of directions—OPC Foundation President Stefan Hoppe’s editorial in the June newsletter and from Stacey Higginbotham’s IoT Newsletter recently that discussed edge.

Hoppe wrote, “Still to this day people only think of OPC UA merely as a secure protocol to move information. It is so much more than that. It is a modeling language in cloud applications and digital twins. It is capable of file transport (since 2009). Most people know that OPC UA started as an initiative in the OT world and expanded from the PLC control plane to SCADA and later to MES and ERP. More and more people are realizing that OPC UA via MQTT is the bridge between OT and IT and is able to push information directly into Microsoft and AWS cloud dashboards without the need for an adapter.”

From Data to Data Sources

Stacey Higginbotham writing in Stacey on IoT Bringing AI to the farthest edge requires new computing.

Stacey writes about IoT generally. Most of her topics are commercial/consumer and chips (her reporting background). She does follow the IoT trail into manufacturing at times. In this newsletter she broaches into something I’ve been expounding for a long time, that is, how edge devices have become smarter with better communications. Then the IT world came up with the term Edge, which is, of course everything manufacturing.

We’re in the midst of a computing shift that’s turning the back-and-forth between cloud and edge computing on its head. This new form of computing has been creeping to the forefront for the last few years, driven by digital transformations and complicated connected devices such as cars.

But the more recent hype around AI is providing the richest examples of this shift. And it will ultimately require new forms of computing in more places, changing both how we think about the edge and the types of computing we do there. In short, the rise of AI everywhere will lead to new forms of computing specialized for different aspects of the edge. I’m calling this concept the complex edge.

As part of this shift in computing, we have to become more nuanced about what we mean when we talk about the edge. I like to think of it as a continuum moving from the most compute and power-constrained devices such as sensors to the most powerful servers that happen to be located on premise in a factory. In the middle are devices such as tablets, smartphones, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and gateways that might handle incoming data from PLCs or sensors.

Moreover, each of these devices along the continuum might run their own AI models and require their own specialized type of computing to compare the data coming into those models. For example, I’ve written about the need for sensors to get smarter and process more information directly.

Smart sensors turn to analog compute

Cameras or image sensors are popular examples of such devices. This vision sensor from Useful Sensors, which can do person detection on a $10 device, runs a simple algorithm that looks for people and counts them. At a higher level, which requires more processing power, sensors from Sony or chips from CEVA are able to detect specific movements, faces, or other options.

A few weeks ago at the Sensors Converge event, a company called Polyn Technology showed off a version of a chip designed to take raw data and quickly convert it into an insight. To quickly process analog signals from the environment (such as vibrations or sound), the Polyn chip uses analog processing to process the signal and then sends the “insight” to another computer for more processing.

We not only have cameras shooting pictures for QA purposes, but also they are streaming video for applications from industrial engineering to surveillance to predictive maintenance. This is a vast amount of data. 

We have tools, but we will need more. Chips with built in communication and analytics are a start.

Litmus Adds Digital Twin Support

There were a couple of process automation news items. Now, let’s switch to the industrial edge and talk data. Litmus announced the availability of digital twins for users of Litmus Edge and Litmus Edge Manager. Now manufacturers have a streamlined way to collect, contextualize, normalize and analyze data with visual representations of purpose-driven digital twin models.

Litmus’ infrastructure supports:

  • Asset and site twins
  • Use case driven models like energy monitoring, predictive maintenance, production optimization and quality control
  • Flexibility to support various digital twin models
  • Easy modeling of collected data
  • Real-time decision-making and simulation of different scenarios

ZEDEDA and Avassa Partner to Deliver Secure Edge Application Orchestration for Platform Teams and Developers

Innovation at the Edge continues. I’ve written about ZEDEDA before and have even appeared on a couple of their Web events. The company maintains momentum at this vital confluence of data. This announcement concerns a partnership with Avassa.

  • Partnership provides platform teams with a comprehensive security and visibility solution coupled with a developer-friendly container application solution for the distributed edge
  • Together, the companies address the growing demand for comprehensive solutions that empower customers to manage the lifecycle of new and existing technologies at the edge
  • The combination of ZEDEDA and Avassa solutions enables customers with application-centric visibility and manageability of cloud-native applications while also solving the challenges of the distributed edge

Industrial Operations X Brings Cutting-edge IT and AI Into Industrial Automation

Moving past Mindsphere (now integrated into this platform), Siemens has integrated a new platform for industrial automation and business. The have launched Xcelerator and now add Industrial Operations X. I see this as part of a trend where established control and automation suppliers are scrambling to show financial markets that they are cool, hip software developers. We have seen many platforms touted over the past 5-7 years. We’ll have to wait and see how this one performs in the market.

In brief:

  • Siemens expands Siemens Xcelerator open digital business platform with launch of Industrial Operations X
  • Uniquely combining the real and digital worlds
  • Production processes to become more efficient and highly adaptive
  • Includes launch of first fully virtual controller

Industrial Operations X is the solution for production engineering, execution, and optimization. It focuses on integrating cutting-edge IT capabilities and proven methods from software operations in the world of automation: low code, edge, cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) are combined with industry-leading automation technology and digital services.

Industrial Operations X solutions make data actionable by leveraging AI analysis capabilities. Independent studies suggest that a digitally enabled factory delivers production increases of up to 30 percent.

Based on the SIMATIC S7-1500, the virtual programmable logic controller (PLC) is hardware-independent, allowing applications to be centrally managed and flexibly modified to meet changing customer needs. PLC projects can be scaled with virtual control and easily integrated into other IT offerings through open data interfaces.

Making automation programmable with IT code: Simatic AX 

Simatic AX provides IT professionals with a familiar development environment based on Visual Studio Code and version control via GIT and others. Simatic AX is cloud-based and is available as a service.

Visualization for the Industrial Edge environment: WinCC Unified for Industrial Edge 

With Industrial Edge, administering software in machines is easier, more flexible, and more secure. A variety of apps is already available, focused on acquisition, preprocessing and analysis of machine or plant data.

Insights Hub: Turning Industrial IoT into actionable insights

Siemens will integrate MindSphere in the core of our operations software portfolio with an even stronger focus on delivering business value from IoT data. To emphasize our commitment to application value from industrial IoT, Siemens is evolving MindSphere (including partners and developers worldwide) into Insights Hub as part of Industrial Operations X and the Siemens Xcelerator ecosystem. 

Insights Hub highlights the focus on empowering smart manufacturing to generate actionable insights from asset and operations data, by analyzing data locally or in the cloud, and transforming it into value. With Insights Hub, Siemens gives its customers proven industrial IoT solutions that include a variety of applications, like Insights Hub Quality Prediction for improving quality inspection and rework processes. 

Nokia Expands Industrial Edge Offerings

The first time edge compute and edge applications came my way was through IT companies—Dell in 2015 and HPE in 2017. They both still have edge devices and “edge-to-cloud” strategies. Neither comes to me with information or invitations to user groups anymore. Even though you might expect the natural “edge” in manufacturing would lie with the automation vendors, such is not the case. They don’t talk to me about edge, either.

You might think of this as a little out of the ordinary, but Nokia while transitioning from mobile handset supplier has become an edge device developer and supplier. This news relates to some new initiatives and products from that company from Finland.

  • Four new digital enablers expand OT edge applications offered on Nokia MX Industrial Edge.
  • Industrial IoT platforms connect, collect and analyze data from disparate sources –including video cameras – unlocking its value.
  • New security function protects from advanced threats in OT environment, improves security, which is essential for data exchange.

Nokia today launched four third-party applications for MX Industrial Edge (MXIE), which help enterprises connect, collect and analyze data from operational technology (OT) assets on a robust and secure on-premises edge. Asset-heavy industries can accelerate their digital transformation and benefit most from Nokia’s OT edge ecosystem-neutral approach, which taps into innovation from many top digitalization enablers. The new applications also leverage the GPU capability recently announced on Nokia MXIE, a powerful on-premises OT edge solution that helps process data closest to the source in real time while retaining data sovereignty.

Today’s news builds on Nokia’s partnership with Kyndryl, the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, which has a focus on designing, deploying, and managing industry-leading LTE and 5G private wireless networks and Industry 4.0 solutions to enterprises worldwide. By combining Kyndryl’s network and edge advisory and integration services with Nokia’s private wireless networks, industrial customers can achieve high-performance wireless connectivity in mission-critical environments. As a converged compute platform, Nokia MXIE supports the core operation of private wireless networks and hosts a multitude of OT edge computing applications. By leveraging Nokia MXIE, Kyndryl is helping customers implement end-to-end industrial use cases with a single orchestrated on-premises edge for both private wireless and digitalization enablers. The automation and digitalization benefits, from predictive maintenance, better worker safety, to quality assurance enables smarter, leaner factory operations and improves sustainability across industrial verticals – from manufacturing, energy and gas, to mining.

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