Virtual Appliance Provides Entry Point for Small Deployments

Virtual Appliance Provides Entry Point for Small Deployments

A short blurb on a product that I didn’t know that Rockwell Automation had—a rack-mount compute platform that can be used as a virtual machine server.

The information did not come through a traditional press release. It was a New Product Spotlight with a request to run in the products section. Well, I’m not a magazine or traditional media, so I don’t have a “products section.” However, I have great empathy for PR firms these days. They really have to push to keep clients happy in a tough market with demanding client executives.

Given that I’ve been spending so much time at IT conferences and everyone speculates about what Rockwell is up to, I found this one intriguing. “The new VersaVirtual appliance from Rockwell Automation provides all the computing, networking and storage capabilities needed to deploy and maintain up to 15 virtual machines in one ready-to-use appliance.”

Two key features:

First, it avoids the potential pitfalls of a do-it-yourself virtualized architecture. This appliance is pre-engineered. It arrives as a complete product from one source.

Second, it is an Industrial Data Center with scaled down cost and complexity for smaller applications.

They even remove the objection of needing an IT department. The VersaVirtual appliance comes with one-year remote monitoring and administration so that users receive around-the-clock system monitoring to help prevent downtime. Customers will also receive support from certified IT/OT professionals who have an average response time of three minutes to help resolve technical issues.

It is a hyperconverged (compute, networking and storage) appliance for entry-level virtualization. And the benefits: Virtualization brings an average of 74% decrease in total cost of ownership, reduces downtime, adds compute capability, and comes with trusted IT/OT services and support.

Looks like an entry-level IT platform from the OT leader. Interesting.

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
Industrial Internet of Things Maturity Assessment Explorer

Industrial Internet of Things Maturity Assessment Explorer

I’ve been off for most of the past week celebrating Independence Day and family birthdays. For those of you in the US, I hope you had a restful time off and enjoyed some fireworks displays. And now, back to what’s happening in the industrial world.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) comprises far more than just the simple connecting of devices back to a database in a server. It’s integral to digitalization. Applying abundance thinking to the system, clearly IIoT plays a key role for successful business transformation.

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has produced the IIoT Maturity Assessment, a web-based tool included in the IIC Resource Hub that enables users to better understand their enterprise IIoT maturity. The IIoT Maturity Assessment helps organizations become best-practice adopters of IIoT by guiding business managers through a range of questions about the adoption, usage and governance of IIoT within their organizations.

“The IIoT market has grown quickly and many businesses planned strategy while in the midst of execution and need to step back and assess their true IIoT maturity,” said Jim Morrish, Co-Chair of the IIC’s Business Strategy and Solution Lifecycle Working Group and co-author of the IIoT Maturity Assessment tool. “The IIoT Maturity Assessment will help companies get a baseline for their maturity right now and assess it in regular intervals to track their progress.”

This framework of four main dimensions and their corresponding strands will spur your thinking into broader areas beyond predictive maintenance or cost reduction programs.

The framework:

Business Strategy

  • Market context
  • Strategic context
  • Business model innovation and refinement
  • IoT Foundations

Business Solution Lifecycle

  • Interface to business strategy
  • Solution design
  • Project team structuring
  • Project management
  • In service monitoring and feedback

Technology

  • Technology strategy
  • Reference architecture and standards
  • Platforms stack
  • Data location transparency

Security

  • Governance
  • Enablement
  • Hardening

“There’s a real difference between using IIoT to streamline processes and using it to create new revenue streams or make better business decisions,” said Ian Hughes, Senior Analyst, Internet of Things, 451 Research. “A tool like this can be a real eye opener for an organization wanting to transform their business to remain competitive and increase profits.”

The IIoT Maturity Assessment considers 63 individual capabilities, each with five levels of maturity within the above framework. For example, under strategic context, a maturity level can range from a limited number of key individuals having stepped up to IIoT ownership to full ownership of IIoT within an organization. The IIoT Maturity Assessment provides feedback about the level of maturity and highlights areas that may require development.

The final outputs provided to users also provide links to the IIC Body of Knowledge for reference and to help improve their maturity. This includes collaborative resources developed by industry leaders from the IIC membership, including IIC foundational documents (Industrial Internet Reference Architecture, Industrial Internet Security Framework, Industrial Internet Connectivity Framework, Business Strategy and Innovation Framework, Industrial Internet of Things Analytics Framework, and Vocabulary Technical Report) and other IIC documents and tools.

The IIoT Maturity Assessment is available in three levels of analysis: Quick, Standard (both open to everyone) and Detailed (IIC members only).

New Take On Edge Embedded Computing

New Take On Edge Embedded Computing

I’ve been writing about how IT companies are taking their powerful compute platforms to the edge. Here is a balance view from an industrial network switch company combining LTE with Ethernet and embedding HMI/SCADA. Interestingly, it includes Node-RED and MQTT support.

ORing has released a new industrial dual 4G LTE M2M IoT gateway that includes Ignition Onboard and Ignition Edge Onboard. The industrial-grade design is compliant with requirements of IEC 61850-3.

The new gateway has built-in 8-port Gigabit Ethernet with 4×10/100/1000Base-T(X) and 4xGigabit SFP Combo ports. It also includes Ignition Onboard and Ignition Edge Onboard, for easy use of the powerful, web-based Ignition platform for human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Node-RED is also onboard, along with support for MQTT and other protocols. The Gateway is AT&T-certified and can be purchased with a bundled SIM card and LTE data plan.

The company has extensive experience in switch and wireless product design. ORing’s products have been deployed in surveillance, rail transport, industrial automation, power substations, renewable energy, and marine applications.

Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with numerous tools for building solutions in HMI, SCADA, and IIoT.

“We’re very pleased to see Ignition and Ignition Edge as part of this new product from ORing,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Digital transformation is a big undertaking, and end users will certainly appreciate ORing making things easier for them.”

“We at ORing are very excited about the release of the innovative IGMG-P83244GC+-D4G IoT Gateway,” said Angus Shih, president of ORing Industrial Networking Corp. “This impressive technology includes the Ignition SCADA features and AT&T LTE cellular technology. This all-in-one gateway can provide powerful VPN cellular routing capabilities with database storage, Ignition, and Node-RED functions in one box to make IoT and SCADA applications deployment easier than ever before. It can also connect with Ignition servers and the most popular cloud platforms, including AT&T Dataflow, to build flexible edge-to-cloud IoT systems.”

Podcasts and Education Opportunities

Podcasts and Education Opportunities

I’ve been busy behind the microphone lately. Here is news about my latest Gary on Manufacturing podcast (I’m taking suggestions for a new name since I cover a much broader area than manufacturing) plus a conversation I had for an SAP-sponsored podcast with the famous Tamara McCleary for a series called TechUnknown. Finally, I will refer you to an education resource Website.

Gary on Manufacturing 191

Podcast 191–If we are ever going to finally bring IT and OT together, indeed break through all of a company’s silos, it will be through adopting coaching as a key component of the manager’s tool kit. I reference Trillion Dollar Coach by Schmidt, Rosenberg, and Eagle—a book about legendary Bill Campbell and how his coaching made the difference for executives at Google, Apple, and many more Silicon Valley companies. I also take a look at another Bill—Bill Gates—whose 10 top tech trends and 10 top challenges to solve appeared in this spring’s MIT Technology Review.

TechUnknown Podcast

I had an entertaining and informative conversation with Tamara McCleary. How do you manage the human element of automation & #AI adoption? I share my thoughts on real-life applications for #IIoT with @TamaraMcCleary on the @SAP #TechUnknown podcast.

Earn a Masters Degree

Industries of all sorts have a need for data scientists. I heard from a publicist for a Website that consolidates and explains degree programs in that area. If you or someone you know wants career advancement or change, check out this page.

Cloud-based Database Platform Complements PI System

Cloud-based Database Platform Complements PI System

Digitalization requires digital data, which in turn requires a place to robustly store that data. OSIsoft PI System must be the most widely used industrial historian database. Last November I wrote about the company bringing its PI System to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The company has released OSIsoft Cloud Services—a cloud-native, real-time data management system for unifying and augmenting critical operations data from across an organization to accelerate industrial analytics, data science projects, data sharing, and other digital transformation initiatives.

Given how deep I’ve been led into IT over the past few years, this advancement from OSIsoft becomes part of a significant trend of blending IT and OT just above the control layer. In fact, if you segregate off the actual “control” part of automation, that system itself has become an important element of Internet of Things (IoT) blending into the overall IT infrastructure. If you are not thinking the big picture in today’s industrial environment, then you will be missing important paths to profitability.

Back to today’s OSIsoft news. The OSIsoft Cloud Services (OCS) in a capsule:

  • Data sharing – partner companies can access a shared data stream to remotely monitor technology
  • Functionality – seamless crossover between the PI System and OCS to compare facilities, perform root cause analysis and run hypotheticals
  • Scalability – tests proved OCS can simultaneously manage over two billion data streams, and safely share information with partners
  • Petuum uses OCS to stream historical data and live data on production, temperature and variability to its AI platform to assist Cemex, a global cement manufacturer, improve yield and energy to 7% from 2%.
  • DERNetSoft uses OCS to aggregate data in one place, allowing users to access useful analytics for ways to reduce power and save money.
  • Pharma companies will use OCS to give a regulator access to anonymized drug testing or production, without risk of unauthorized users in the manufacturing networks.

With OCS, an engineer at a chemical producer, for example, could combine maintenance and energy data from multiple facilities into a live superset of information to boost production in real-time while planning analysts could merge several years’ worth of output and yield data to create a ‘perfect plant’ model for capital forecasts.

OCS can also be leveraged by software developers and system integrators to build new applications and services or to link remote assets.

“OSIsoft Cloud Services is a fundamental part of our mission to help people get the most out of the data that is at the foundation of their business. We want their cost of curiosity to be as close to zero as possible,” said Gregg Le Blanc, Vice President of Product at OSIsoft. “OCS is designed to complement the PI System by giving customers a way to uncover new operational insights and use their data to solve new problems that would have been impractical or impossible before.”

Data scientists spend 50 percent or more of their time curating large data sets instead of conducting analytics. IT teams get bogged down in managing VPNs for third parties or writing code for basic administrative tasks. Data becomes inaccessible and locked in silos. Over 1,000 utilities, 80% of the largest oil and gas companies, and 65% of the Fortune 500 industrial companies already use the PI System to harness critical operations data, turning it into an asset for improving productivity, saving money, and developing new services.

Natively compatible with the PI System, OCS extends the range of possible applications and use cases of OSIsoft’s data infrastructure while eliminating the challenges of capturing, managing, enhancing, and delivering operations data across an organization. Within a few hours, thousands of data streams containing years of historical data can be transferred to OCS, allowing customers to explore, experiment, and share large data sets the same day.

The core of OCS is a highly scalable sequential data store optimized for time series data, depth measurements, temperature readings, and similar data. OSIsoft has also embedded numerous usability features for connecting devices, managing users, searching, transferring data from the PI System to OCS, and other functions. OCS can also accept data from devices outside of traditional control networks or other sources.

“The scale and scope of data that will be generated over the coming decades is unprecedented, but our mission remains the same,” said Dr. J. Patrick Kennedy, CEO and Founder of OSIsoft. “OSIsoft Cloud Services represent the latest step in a nearly 40 year journey and there’s more to come.”

OCS is a subscription service currently available to customers and partners for use in facilities in North America. OCS will be extended to Europe and to other regions in the near future.