One of the analysts for the German-based analyst firm, IoT Analytics, found me a bit over a year ago. The firm, founded by Knud Lasse Lueth, specializes in research and consulting on IoT broadly speaking. I am affiliated with the firm as an advisor. I’ve participated in some research and recommend it if you’re in the market.
Lueth authored a report on digital and IoT markets. I’ve included some of the interesting findings. You can download a summary or purchase the report by following the link.
Digital and IoT markets continue to accelerate, with North American and European enterprise customers leading the way.
Cloud and cybersecurity—but also topics such as no-code—are becoming more important to end-users.
Pharma and energy verticals are leading the recovery, while automotive, buildings, and oil and gas lag behind.
Why it matters?
Due to the current uncertain business environment, IoT technology vendors can win market share by targeting the most attractive regions, technologies, and verticals while deprioritizing the less attractive ones.
The opportunities and threats of highly dynamic technology markets
We recently interviewed an IoT technology provider that almost lost the entire business due to COVID-19 effects but then pivoted quickly. The company had found initial market success providing solutions for the digitalization of commercial office buildings. In early 2020, COVID-19 hit, and overnight, all investments in commercial office buildings were halted as people stayed home. Six months later, while still in the middle of lockdowns, the company was thriving again.
Why? They had shifted their efforts toward the digitalization of specialty buildings, such as airports and hospitals, which were in urgent need of tracking and other IoT applications.
This example shows that, in changing times, the success of an entire technology business can depend on understanding which market segments are or remain attractive and which ones are limiting their budgets. Markets can change radically in a matter of months, and technology vendors need to be aware of these changes and be ready to pivot.
The current state of the Internet of Things: Twice a year, we provide our view on the current IoT market environment, offering our clients a general market overview of enterprise technology with a focus on Internet of Things-related businesses and use cases. The latest 148-page State of IoT report highlights 100+ recent IoT-related news stories, the 100 largest IoT-related funding rounds of the last nine months, major acquisitions in the space, our team’s input on 36 current trends, and a view of the IoT vendor landscape.
The report also includes our view of the IoT technology market attractiveness and general sentiment in 20 industry verticals, the four main global regions, and along 10 elements of the IoT tech stack. Here are some of the highlights from our summer 2021 analysis.
Regional view: North America and Europe leading out of the pandemic
Tech budgets in 2021 and going into 2022 differ greatly by region. These budgets are still strongly correlated to regional COVID-19 impacts, with North America and Europe increasing IoT tech spending, while most places in APAC and the rest of the world are cautious when it comes to innovation and tech investments.
Overall business sentiment across all companies in North America has surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels. In North America in the second quarter (Q2) of 2021, business sentiment indexed at 107, compared to an index of 100 in Q2 2019. Europe is also strong at 104.
Technology view: Opportunities across the entire stack
Lueth includes eight technology topics the research found trending. I’ve included brief comments on them.
1. Cloud migration and modernization services
The migration of software workloads and entire software applications to private and public cloud environments accelerated in 2021. Growth rates for both Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure climbed back above 50% (year on year) in Q2 2021. For IoT vendors in general, there is a large opportunity in helping clients move their IoT assets and existing IoT-based applications to the cloud. Containers have become the de facto standard in modern software design. Leading software firms are modernizing their applications with serverless architectures (at least partially). Consistent data structures and state-of-the-art data warehouses are also a large area of investment.
2. Low-code/No-code development interfaces
The low-code/no-code trend is in full swing. Given the current shortage of global tech talent, it is more important than ever that companies allow non-techy users to easily use applications and develop solutions.
3. State-of-the-art cybersecurity setups or features
Cyberattacks have increased in the last two years, driven by the remote work trend and IT integrations with multiple (supplier) systems alongside poor cybersecurity practices in many firms.
4. End-to-end solutions that are easy to configure
Complexity is still the enemy of all IoT initiatives. IoT practitioners remain extremely thankful for solutions that allow a portion of the overall architecture to be seamlessly connected. Zero touch is the name of the game in IoT connectivity (i.e., onboarding new devices and connecting them to a network instantly).
5. Solutions supporting open application programming interfaces (APIs) and data ecosystems
There is an increasing focus on clean data and/or semantic data structures for contextualizing, synthesizing, and solving IoT data issues. The OPC Foundation, in collaboration with CESMII, for example, announced the launch of the OPC Unified Architecture (UA) cloud library joint working group (JWG) in October 2020 . The goal of the JWG is to specify how OPC UA information models of machines, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and manufacturing execution systems will be stored in and accessed from a cloud-based database.
6. Intelligent and connected edge solutions
The edge continues to become more intelligent, and vendors are racing to support more connected and smart edge devices.
An edge trend we have discussed in depth is the migration of control away from traditional programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in manufacturing environments. As further proof of this trend, several industrial automation vendors recently introduced new products that decouple industrial control software from the underlying hardware, enabling more flexible and interoperable control systems.
7. Offerings that support sustainability initiatives
Sustainability has become a CEO priority, as highlighted in some of our recent “What CEOs talked about” articles. IoT plays an important role for a sustainable planet, as also highlighted in previous research.
8. AI-infused software applications
Artificial intelligence is becoming ingrained in many legacy software applications, giving rise to new themes, such as machine learning model monitoring (MLOps or autoML), which automates the task of data integration and model creation.
When AutomationDirect was PLCDirect and control platforms were developing with much technical development and innovation, I visited the company and its control developer in Knoxville, TN frequently. They were adding Ethernet and IT technologies. Great times. Then that part of the industry matured and AutomationDirect became a master electrical and automation distributor, while still keeping a foot in the automation development door.
This information came to me last week. Given all the interest in automation and sensor and OPC to the cloud, I thought this was interesting. AutomationDirect here discusses the PLC as an integral part of a cloud-based system. Good for them.
PLCs can now be directly integrated with cloud-based computing platforms, empowering end users and OEMs to quickly and easily add IIoT functionality to their systems.
Damon Purvis, PLC Product Manager at AutomationDirect, wrote an article for the August 2021 edition of Machine Design. The article is titled Modern PLCs Simplify Cloud-Based IIoT and it talks about how the newest BRX PLCs can securely connect directly to the leading cloud platforms from AWS, Microsoft, and others.
Industrial automation systems created by end users and OEMs have long had some IIoT data connectivity capabilities—but getting to this data and working with it has often been a chore, prohibitively expensive, or both.
Cloud computing options have eliminated many of these barriers, providing a cost-effective way to deploy and scale up IIoT projects. This is especially the case now that the BRX PLC can connect natively to cloud services, without requiring intermediate layers of processing.
Before the Industrial Internet Consortium changed its name (Industry IoT Consortium) I had two news items from it. The first is a Networking Framework publication and the second a definition for trustworthiness in cyber-physical systems. They both appear to be worthwhile additions to the state of the art.
IIC Defines Trustworthiness for Cyber-Physical Systems
The IIC has published IIoT Trustworthiness Framework Foundations. This foundational document explains the key concepts and benefits of trustworthiness in context, relating it to the real-world supply chain and offering model approaches. Trustworthiness is essential to government and commercial organizations with cyber-physical systems impacting the safety and well-being of people and the environment. These systems include industrial control systems and almost all systems that use digital technology to sense or affect the environment.
“Trustworthiness, and confidence in that trustworthiness, are an essential aspect of cyber-physical systems,” said Marcellus Buchheit, President & CEO, Wibu-Systems USA, a Co-Chair of the IIC Trustworthiness Task Group and one of the authors of the document. “Inattention to trustworthiness can lead to loss of human life, long-term environmental impacts, interruption of critical infrastructure, or other consequences such as disclosure of sensitive data, destruction of equipment, economic loss, and reputation damage,” continued Buchheit.
The IIoT Trustworthiness Framework Foundations document defines trustworthiness as a combination of security, safety, reliability, resilience, and privacy and the tradeoffs made among them in the face of environmental disturbances, human errors, system faults, and attacks. Ultimately, trustworthiness depends on the strategic intent and motivation of an organization, particularly its top management, to create and operate systems that inspire trust by partners, customers, and other stakeholders, including the community.
“Trustworthiness is the degree of confidence one has that a system performs as expected. It requires an understanding of the system, including interactions and emergent properties,” said Frederick Hirsch, Strategy Consultant, Upham Security, Co-Chair of the IIC Trustworthiness Task Group, and one of the authors of the foundational document. “In the digital world, trust and trustworthiness are achieved by understanding and addressing concerns related to the trustworthiness characteristics appropriately for the context of the entire system. Providing evidence of this can give others confidence.”
IIoT stakeholders will make different decisions and tradeoffs depending on the nature and or industry of the system. “Concerns in a factory are not the same as those for a hospital operating room,” said Bob Martin, Senior Principal Engineer, Cyber Solutions Innovation Center, The MITRE Corporation, Co-Chair of the IIC Trustworthiness Task Group, one of the authors of the document. “Designers must understand the many considerations involved in defining the appropriate trustworthiness implementation, including the supply chain, assembly, operation, and maintenance of a system.”
You can find IIoT Trustworthiness Framework Foundations and a list of IIC members who contributed to it here. Watch a short overview video. Register for the webinar, Ensuring Trustworthy Industrial Systems on September 1, 2021 at noon PST or 7:00 pm PST.
IIC Publishes IIoT Networking Framework
The IIC announced the Industrial Internet of Things Networking Framework (IINF) publication. The framework guides IIoT stakeholders on designing and developing the appropriate networking solutions to enable industrial IoT (IIoT) applications and stimulate industrial digital transformation. It details the requirements, technologies, standards, and solutions for networking that support diverse applications and deployments across a broad range of IIoT sectors and vertical industries.
“An underlying network is the foundation of any IIoT solution. It includes technologies at the network layer and below as well as related capabilities for management and security,” said David Lou, Co-chair, IIC Networking Task Group, Chief Researcher, Huawei Technologies, and one of the primary authors of the framework. “An underlying network enables the exchange of data and control and forms the basis of digital transformation across industries.”
The framework serves as a guideline and toolbox for IIoT networking solution stakeholders who design, develop, deploy, or operate the solutions and end-users in many industries trying to network their assets or products.
“IIoT applications span a range of industrial sectors as well as business, usage, deployment, and performance perspectives,” said Jan Holler, Co-chair IIC Networking Task Group, Research Fellow, Ericsson, and one of the primary authors of the framework. “The IINF helps organizations sort through numerous networking technologies to ensure interoperability across industry sectors. It answers the fundamental question, ‘How do I design, deploy, and operate a successful networking solution for my industrial IoT applications?'”
The IINF includes use cases from several industrial sectors, including smart factories, mining, oil & gas, and smart grid, to illustrate the diversity of networking considerations. Networking technologies and standards are covered in-depth to help organizations address their concerns and technical requirements. Finally, the IINF includes best practices for IT architectural blueprints.
IIC stands for something different today than yesterday. Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) announced a new direction and a new name – Industry IoT Consortium (IIC). The news release states, New focus on technology innovation that fosters business transformation. I have been downplaying that IoT term for some time. These terms grow old in buzz factor within just a few years. Engineers working in manufacturing and production have been connecting “things” for a long time and using Internet Protocol (Internet of Things) for a decade. The current buzz is all about “digital transformation”, so a revised focus (while probably doing much of the same thing) is in order.
IIC has become the world’s leading organization transforming business and society by accelerating the Industrial IoT. The consortium’s new mission is to bring transformative business value to organizations, industry, and society by accelerating the adoption of trustworthy IoT systems. IIC’s new focus will drive technology innovation that fosters business transformation so that organizations can realize a return on their IoT investments.
“We recognized the need to focus on technology deployments to solve technical problems,” said Dr. Richard Soley, Executive Director, Industry IoT Consortium. “We’re applying technology to address customer pain points and improve business results. Industry organizations and technology providers turn to IIC and its members for IoT support and guidance. Now we’ll guide them on the application of IoT technology and digital transformation enablers to achieve positive business outcomes.”
I like Richard’s comment about addressing customer pain points and improving business results. Technology should solve real world big problems not just another technology problem.
The new direction will strengthen the IIC ecosystem by unifying members around successful IoT deployment outcomes. New programs, which combine several approaches to digital transformation, will identify customer pain points, improve go-to-market abilities, and enhance business outcomes. Existing programs will change to reflect this focus, and new initiatives will emerge to help members reach more of their customers.
IIC will continue its work on best-practice frameworks, innovative testbeds, and providing standards requirements to standards development organizations. It will also target IT, networks, manufacturing, energy & utilities, healthcare markets, and academia & research.
The newly branded IIC will help organizations identify best technology practices, build credible brands, and grow their businesses. Industry IoT Consortium delivers transformative business value to industry, organizations, and society by accelerating the adoption of a trustworthy internet of things. Industry IoT Consortium is a program of Object Management Group (OMG).
I had a friend who has since retired who speculated on what one could do with the data from sensors installed all over a large petroleum or petro-chemical production facility. Just think of what you could know in order to be able to manage the entire facility, he’d exclaim. Recently I interviewed a team at a large automation supplier who discussed concentrating data from sensors and inputs from large machine lines into a PLC.
Sometimes the project you’re contemplating or the business model you have requires thousands of sensors, many gateways, large compute power. What if you built a business model that is profitable servicing different customer needs? What if instead of a few customers buying thousands of sensors you had thousands of customers who needed only a few sensors in each area? Sounds like Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail.
Ray Almgren, President and CEO of Swift Sensors, recently took time out to talk with me about what’s happening there. When I first met Swift Sensors about five years ago, it reminded me of the companies built up around the ZigBee wireless mesh networking standard of about 20 years before. Much progress in terms of products and business models has come the past couple of years.
Swift has designed more robust sensors and developed gateways and cloud-based software making life better for customers. It has found a place in that long tail of many companies who require fewer sensors per location but have many locations. Working with managed services suppliers mostly from the IT market has proved to be a good channel for recurring revenue from satisfying customers’ ongoing needs.
I’ve promoted to a subset of suppliers for years to look outside traditional manufacturing for expanded markets. Swift Sensors markets to schools, pharma companies, agriculture, hospitality, small manufacturing. There continues to be a robust market for taking 4-20 mA signals to the cloud. That’s sort of a cave man meets StarTrek scenario, but still fills a need.
I suggest keeping an eye on the Managed Services, or “as-a-Service”, area for growth if you are a supplier and better service if you are a user.
Following is more description of the latest of Swift Sensors from its Website.
Swift Sensors is a simple and cost-effective solution for the automated monitoring of all your important assets. There are three components of the Swift Sensors system:
Sensors. The Sensors record measurement readings and transmit this vital information wirelessly using encrypted BLE5 technology to the Gateway.
Gateway. The Gateway transmits the measurement readings up to the cloud over a SSL-secured WiFi, ethernet or cellular connection.
Cloud Software. You can access your secure cloud account right from your phone, desktop, laptop, or tablet. Check readings, create thresholds, monitor alerts, leave notes, review historical data and export reports.
Sensors are powered with 2 AAA lithium polymer batteries with an average lifespan of 6 – 8 years. Sensors can be powered on or put into sleep mode by pressing the center of the sensor. A green LED in the sensor blinks when the sensor powers on, turns solid when transitioning to sleep mode, and will blink when the “Find my Sensor” command is sent from the Console. All sensors send encrypted data to the gateway.
The Cloud makes it simple and easy to store sensor data without the hassle of setting up wires, servers and storage devices. Our state-of-the-art console combined with our seamless integration of cloud sensing technology allows you to work without the stress of monitoring your data 24/7. The Swift Sensors Console gives you the peace of mind knowing your equipment, products, and facility are monitored 24/7. Notifications can be set based on specific thresholds that you apply to specific measurements. These thresholds, whether set low or high, can trigger email, SMS, or phone call notifications that are sent immediately when a problem occurs. This security not only helps optimize your facility but also prevent the most catastrophic events. Third-party developers can create their own custom front-end web or mobile app to display and manage Swift Sensors data and hardware. Web API documentation is available for free, and provides full access to the Swift Sensors cloud system. APIs can be found here.
Jason Shepherd, Ecosystem VP, has been busy building this edge ecosystem and took time to chat with me about this news from ZEDEDA. The bullet points below summarize. First, I thought I do a reminder about “edge orchestration”, the core of ZEDEDA’s offering. Essentially edge orchestration makes it easier (on the typical engineering scale of easy) to build management and security of hardware and applications as you build out your IoT system.
Partnerships are a growing trend, and this release details several both with commercial companies and with consortia. Google Cloud makes another appearance on my blog, as well. As I’ve said, these enterprise cloud services are getting very interesting. This release focuses on the energy vertical. Look for additional focus industries coming in the future.
Google collaboration to leverage ZEDEDA’s expertise in distributed edge computing
Additional partnerships include Juniper Networks, Advantech, Dianomic and the IOTA Foundation
ZEDEDA joins LF Energy, OSDU and Project Alvarium to advance open collaboration to address industry challenges
The energy industry is undergoing rapid evolution as it adjusts to sweeping changes in everything from aging infrastructure to an imbalance in traditional ways consumers use and produce energy.
To address this complex equation, ZEDEDA, the leader in orchestration for the distributed edge, today announces significant advances in three key areas—partnerships, industry consortiums and a developer program—that position open collaboration as a key enabler for the industrial market, including companies looking to address the macro trends in the energy space.
ZEDEDA will provide its zero-trust, cloud-based orchestration solution for distributed edge computing to help Google Cloud customers securely scale deployments of any edge application, including AI/ML, on choice of hardware. This is in response to the growth of cloud infrastructure in industrial markets for centralized data storage and management, cross-facility analytics and visibility, and hyperscale compute capabilities to augment workloads deployed at the edge.
Together with joint edge application partners like Dianomic, customers will be able to drive new efficiencies through insights derived from edge environments. While the solution is horizontal in nature, the partnership is placing an initial focus on the energy space with target edge assets, including wind turbines, solar farms, and more.
“We see a number of edge use cases for multiple industries, including energy, that can be addressed with this Google Cloud partnership,” said Said Ouissal, ZEDEDA founder and CEO. “Our zero-touch provisioning and simplified lifecycle management enable businesses to start realizing business value with Google Cloud together with choice of edge hardware and applications.”
“As high-speed connectivity grows, organizations with presences at the network edge stand to benefit from low-latency access to business applications and cloud capabilities that can help modernize business processes, manage data, and more,” said Tanuj Raja, Global Head, Strategic Partnerships at Google Cloud. “We’re excited that ZEDEDA will make its edge orchestration capabilities available with Google Cloud, helping enable greater access to these applications and capabilities for customers across industries.”
In addition to its recent partnership with Agora, ZEDEDA has added additional partnerships to support energy customers facing key challenges such as digitizing legacy infrastructure, remotely monitoring critical assets, and balancing the grid with unpredictable renewable energy sources. Those partnerships announced today include:
Juniper Networks: a joint offering for secure-edge computing with Juniper’s Session Smart Router and the vSRX Virtual Firewall secure networking capabilities on top of ZEDEDA’s zero-trust edge orchestration foundation. Together, ZEDEDA and Juniper provide customers with the simplicity of cloud orchestration and the flexibility of either backhauling data to the cloud or keeping it on-prem.
Dianomic: an edge application platform for Industrial IoT use cases. ZEDEDA’s edge orchestration solution simplifies secure deployment of Dianomic’s FogLAMP platform and management of the underlying hardware.
IOTA Foundation: a key collaborator for Project Alvarium, focused on facilitating trust in interconnected ecosystems through its feeless Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). IOTA is leading a number of decentralized, innovative projects in the energy space.
“We are pleased to be working with ZEDEDA to provide advanced solutions for the energy sector,” said Karen Falcone, Sr. Director of Enterprise Marketing at Juniper Networks. “Combining our broad networking experience, including software-defined capabilities with the Juniper Session Smart Router and the vSRX Virtual Firewall with ZEDEDA’s Zero Trust architecture, provides customers with a robust security foundation for any mission-critical use cases within the energy vertical and beyond.”
“Together, Dianomic, ZEDEDA and Google deliver a complete Industry 4.0 edge stack built on an open-source foundation,” said Tom Arthur, CEO at Dianomic. “The energy industry faces new challenges as its generation and storage systems become massively distributed. Combining Dianomic’s FogLAMP for edge application development and data acquisition with ZEDEDA’s secure orchestration solution and Google’s state-of-the-art ML and cloud services delivers a robust and flexible foundation for edge computing challenges in industrial use cases.”
ZEDEDA is also increasing focus with Advantech as a strategic hardware partner for the energy space due to its broad portfolio of edge computing offerings, including models with C1/D2 certification for critical environments and new NVIDIA Jetson-enabled boxes to power edge AI.
“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to make edge computing solutions easier, more efficient, and more secure for customers in an industry that is seeing tremendous change,” said Jeff Brown, Sr. Sales Director for Advantech’s Industrial IoT Group. “Working with strategic, domain-focused partners such as ZEDEDA and Dianomic allows us to do just that. Advantech has one of the broadest hardware portfolios in the market, and our expansive Class 1, Division 2 product line allows for reliable, rugged solutions in remote and hazardous locations. We are thrilled to be a part of this ground-breaking group that’s putting digital transformation into the hands of the energy industry.”
Collaboration with PVHardware
ZEDEDA continues to make great progress with energy customers, recently closing a win with PVHardware. The company is using ZEDEDA’s orchestration solution to deploy and manage edge hardware and applications that aid in tracking the sun to maximize power generation.
“As we looked to leverage edge computing to help maximize power generation, we needed a solution to securely scale deployments in solar plants, including the ability to remotely manage the overall deployment lifecycle,” said Ivan Arkitpoff, CTO at PVHardware, “ZEDEDA provided us with a solution that makes it easy to deploy hardware and applications in the field and perform fail-proof updates from the cloud without having to send a technician out to the plant.”
ZEDEDA Joins Industry Consortium Groups LF Energy, OSDU and Project Alvarium
The emerging trends that face the energy industry are so wide-ranging that they require industry collaboration to address. ZEDEDA has joined several industry consortiums to drive standards via open source:
LF Energy, a Linux Foundation project, is seeking to accelerate the energy transition of the world’s power and transportation systems through open-source technology. As a member, ZEDEDA will work with the LF Energy community to integrate EVE-OS into its reference architecture.
The OSDU Forum, part of the Open Group and focused on developing an open, standards-based foundation to accelerate innovation in the energy space. ZEDEDA and Dianomic are assisting in building a proof-of-concept for OSDU’s edge computing reference architecture leveraging EVE-OS and Fledge from LF Edge, with more open-source efforts to be integrated over time.
Project Alvarium, an emerging project within the Linux Foundation, is focused on enabling data confidence through the concept of trust fabrics. ZEDEDA is collaborating with Dell, the IOTA Foundation, Intel and other industry leaders to formally launch the project, with energy being an initial focus vertical.
“ZEDEDA’s capabilities enable zero-touch deployments of IOTA and Project Alvarium, creating scalable connective fabrics at the edge,” said Mat Yarger, Head of Smart Mobility at the IOTA Foundation. “This can enable a peer-to-peer utility of data in the energy sector, which has massive implications to address critical problems with grid management and oversight. It will also allow new business models around electric vehicles and smart grids to thrive, as well as the realization of new asset structures. All with trust being ingrained in how these systems operate.”
To learn more about how ZEDEDA is partnering with Google Cloud and Dianomic on edge solutions, register for ZEDEDA Transform 2021 on August 18-19. This free online event brings together experts from across the edge computing and IoT landscape to discuss today’s trends, challenges and opportunities. (Shameless self-promotion plug, you might find me among the participants there.)