by Gary Mintchell | Jan 6, 2016 | Operations Management
Tim Sowell of Schneider Electric Software (Wonderware) thinks out in front of the curve. His customer contacts help keep him on his toes. His new year’s kick-off blog post revealed four key areas for the coming year based on a conversation with a customer.
These insights should turn our attention away from media glitz and toward doing real work using technologies plus insights.
You might ask what about “big data” and the “internet of things” but these are technologies that will be part of the enabling system for a new operational solution.
In his previous blog he had asked, “how much transformation was happening?” He received a comment from a friend saying the momentum of change is well underway, and happening at increasing pace.
There were 4 areas that he felt his business and associated industry where trying grapple with to stay ahead.
1/ Agility of effective, valued products and brands to the market. So the challenge of “new product Innovation” and then “New Product Introduction” and delivering it to the market at the correct margin to be competitive in timely manner is a whole focus. His comment was this is the core competitive advantage that his company identifies.
2/ Operational Workforce transformation. He agrees with me that too much focus has been on the “aging workforce issue” and that most of HR and Operational teams have missed the bigger transformation, and that is the one of new generation work methods and transformation in workspace that goes with it. He felt like his company woke up to this mid way thru last year when they could not just not fill positions, but are having significant challenges in retaining talent, not within the company but in roles. He felt like initially people thought that would just get a transition to a new workforce yes younger of different experience. But they had not realized that way in which people will work, think, interact, and gain satisfaction will also change. [I think this is a key insight. For years I have written and spoken about getting past the “aging workforce” discussion. In many cases companies had to bring previously laid off engineers back as contractors in order to get essential engineering done. They just couldn’t get the new people needed using the same old tools and methods. Gary]
3/ “Planet Awareness, Image”. He raised this as a real strategy for evolving the brand of the company to been seen as proactive to the environment, to attract further “feeling satisfaction” of customers. He also stated that government regulation, and increasing costs of disposing of waste, and energy costs also are now seen a significant bottom line costs, and must be managed more efficiently. But during this discussion, it was also clear that the perception of being “proactive to the environment” in use of energy, carbon footprint, environment etc was also a key strategy for attractive talent to work in the company. [This idea has been coming for many years. I am happy to see it gaining traction in a major company. I think leadership in our industry that attracts bright, young people must tap into larger societal themes. Gary.]
4/ Transparency across the total product value chain. [Technology has been moving us this direction for some time. Once again, human work is catching up to the technological capabilities. Gary]
It was clear that the 4 strategies was really about changing the way in which the company manages and executes operational work, no matter how big or small.
Pillars of Operational Solution approach:
- Everyone having access to information and knowledge no matter their state or location, this means internet becomes a part of the solution backbone.
- Cyber Security is very much top of mind, both in strategy to secure, manage, to contain cost and risk.
- Data validation/ and contextualization, if transparency and faster decisions are required how do you gain consistent information across different sites. \
- Delivering a new “operational Workspace/ experience” that has embedded knowledge that does not get stale, and enables imitative learning for a dynamic and collaborative workforce.
by Gary Mintchell | Nov 4, 2015 | Internet of Things, News, Operations Management, Software
The famous Internet of Things would be just so many useless streams of bits without a place to store them before analysis can be done. Therefore, the importance of the Cloud. Microsoft has jumped in big time with its Azure Cloud.
Early last month, Microsoft held AzureCon and announced new solutions spanning containers, security, infrastructure and the Internet of Things (IoT) that enable organizations of all sizes to transform their business in today’s mobile-first, cloud-first world.
“We live in a connected world, and the intelligent cloud is powering it all,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud + Enterprise Division. “As data and devices continue to proliferate, there is vast opportunity for businesses to tap into their data to make their applications more intelligent. Through our offerings across applications, data and IoT, and cloud infrastructure, we are enabling companies to innovate more easily and rapidly, using the tools and platforms they know and love.”
Innovation through choice and simplicity
Applications are at the heart of business growth and transformation, and containerization is an increasingly popular way to maximize application value. Furthering its commitment to container technology and extending customer choice, Microsoft announced a new Azure Container Service that will combine the openness of Apache Mesos and Docker with the hyper-scale of Azure for container orchestration and management. With the service, organizations using Azure will now be able to easily deploy and configure Mesos to cluster and schedule Dockerized applications across multiple virtual hosts. Unlike many other container services in market today, this offering is based on open source to enable customer choice across the ecosystem and will support Windows Server containers in the future. The service will be available for preview by the end of the year.
Internet of Things and big data
The intelligent cloud is powered by data. Microsoft announced that its Azure IoT Suite is now available for customers to purchase. The Azure IoT Suite integrates with a company’s existing processes, devices and systems to build and scale IoT projects across their business using preconfigured solutions. In addition, Microsoft announced the new Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT program, an ecosystem of partners whose offerings have been tested and certified so businesses can take their next IoT project from testing to production, more quickly. Current partners include BeagleBone, Freescale Intel Corporation, Raspberry Pi, Resin.io, Seeed Technology Inc., and Texas Instruments Inc.
Microsoft also announced the expansion of Azure Data Lake. This includes Azure Data Lake Analytics, Azure Data Lake Store, a new programming language U-SQL, and Azure HDInsight general availability on Linux.
Security is often cited as a top concern when moving to the cloud. Microsoft announced Azure Security Center, a new integrated experience that gives customers visibility and control of the security of their Azure resources without impeding agility, and helps customers stay ahead of threats even as they evolve.
This service integrates with security solutions from companies such as Barracuda, Checkpoint, Cisco Systems Inc., CloudFlare, F5 Networks, Imperva, Incapsula and Trend Micro Inc. In addition to enabling integrated security, monitoring and policy management, Azure Security Center also provides recommendations. By analyzing information gathered from customers’ deployments and comparing with global threat intelligence aggregated by Microsoft, the service introduces ability to detect threats while taking the guesswork out of cloud security. Azure Security Center will be broadly available for Azure customers by the end of the year.
Finally, continuing investments to deliver industry-leading compute capacity, Microsoft is announcing the N-series, a new family of Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) powered by NVIDIA GPUs. GPUs have long been used for compute and graphics-intensive workloads. Microsoft is the first hyper-scale provider to announce VMs featuring NVIDIA Grid 2.0 technology and the industry-leading Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform for professional graphics applications, deep learning, high-performance computing and more. A preview will be available in a few months.
Microsoft announced the Azure Compute Pre-Purchase Plan, a new pricing program designed for customers with steady state, predictable workloads on Azure. With this new offer, customers who pre-purchase Azure compute for one year can realize cost savings of up to 63 percent. This plan will be available globally starting Dec. 1.
by Gary Mintchell | Oct 27, 2015 | Automation, Data Management, Internet of Things, News, Operations Management
The Internet of Things does not exist in a vacuum. Just putting devices on the Internet with Internet Protocol will achieve nothing. That only generates data. The data must reside somewhere that is organized and easily accessible.
We have come to identify that place as the “cloud”. The cloud is a server bank that may or may not be on the premises. Examples of cloud services include Amazon Web services and Microsoft Azure.
I wrote about Dell’s introduction of a gateway device to enable Internet of Things through connection to edge devices and passing data on to the cloud. To further this, at Dell World, Dell and Microsoft Corp. announced a new cloud solution and program that enable organizations of all sizes to use the Microsoft cloud platform to transform their business. A new, Microsoft Azure-consistent, integrated system for hybrid cloud and extended program offerings will help more customers benefit from Azure and Dell to drive greater agility and increased time to value, whether they choose on-premises or public cloud solutions.
“A core part of our mission to empower every organization on the planet requires us to build world-class platforms and forge deeper partnerships that help businesses of all sizes transform with digital technology,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “By expanding our longstanding partnership with Dell to offer a truly integrated hybrid cloud, we will make the cloud more accessible to organizations of all sizes with the choice and flexibility to best meet their needs.”
“Digital transformation is an imperative for business today, and we are making our customers’ journey easier and faster through adoption of hybrid cloud,” said Michael Dell, CEO, Dell. “Dell shares a vision with Microsoft that open architectures and simplified cloud management will benefit customers of all sizes, freeing them to focus on their businesses and not their technology.”
Azure-consistent integrated system for hybrid cloud
Customers are increasingly turning to hybrid cloud as a way to achieve the agility and cost-savings of the cloud while maintaining control of their assets. Extending their commitment to deliver simple yet powerful hybrid solutions, Microsoft and Dell announced Cloud Platform System Standard (CPS Standard), the newest addition to the Microsoft Cloud Platform System (CPS) family. CPS is the industry’s only integrated system with a true hybrid cloud experience, built on optimized Dell modular infrastructure with pre-configured Microsoft CPS software, including the proven Microsoft software stack and popular Azure services.
The hybrid cloud experience comes from the platform’s consistency with Azure, enabling agile deployment and operation of workloads and allowing customers to build multi-tiered, scalable applications. A fully integrated, preconfigured system, CPS Standard is purpose-built to remove many of the complexities and costs traditionally associated with hybrid cloud deployments, including the following:
Quick time to value and operational simplicity. CPS Standard arrives ready to be plugged in and can be up and running in as little as three hours, while operations, patching and updates are simplified with an automated framework.
Simplified business continuity. In case of a datacenter outage, CPS Standard features archival backup to Azure and failover to Azure that is easy-to-activate, reliable and cost-effective.
Increased flexibility. Its modular design allows customers to start smaller and incrementally scale from four to up to 16 servers based on business needs.
CPS Standard is shipping now with Windows Azure Pack, System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 and is ready to install Microsoft Azure Stack when it becomes available. Dell and Microsoft also offer CPS Premium for large enterprises and service providers requiring a higher-capacity hybrid cloud solution.
Dell joins Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program
To help customers leverage the cloud, Dell also announced that it has joined the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program and will sell Microsoft cloud solutions across Azure, the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) and Office 365. This will help customers accelerate their journey through end-to-end cloud, mobility, identity and productivity solutions that drive new innovation, improve employee productivity and increase security.
The combination of Azure services and Dell’s hardware, software and consulting services will assist customers through their entire hybrid cloud journey from inception to implementation. Consultants will be trained to help customers build tailored cloud solutions to address a range of core business needs including hybrid infrastructure deployments, elastic scale and bursting, backup and disaster recovery, Web and mobile development, and data and analytics.
As a Cloud Solution Provider, Dell will also provide end-to-end enterprise mobility and identity solutions, based on EMS and Azure Active Directory, to empower employees and protect corporate data and applications. EMS, combined with Windows 10 and Office 365, provides a comprehensive platform, productivity tools and management capabilities to help secure company data without compromising mobile productivity experiences.
by Gary Mintchell | Oct 22, 2015 | Internet of Things, News, Operations Management
I received an invitation to Dell World that seemed like a great opportunity to broaden my horizons and dig deeper into the technologies that will provide the platform for Industrial Internet of Things applications and benefits.
When one of the Dell people asked me how it went, I told them that learning about Dell’s technologies helped fill in a gap in my coverage of the whole “connected manufacturing” space. As perhaps the only manufacturing focused writer attending, I certainly received attention
The ecosystem that many refer to as Internet of Things or IoT includes connected things, database + storage (cloud), analytics, and visualization. Dell does not play in the “things” space as defined by the end devices, but it has significant data center, software, and analytics plays. Two items announcemented at Dell World expanded the offering.
The first that Michael Dell, CEO of Dell, announced during his keynote was an IoT product called Edge Gateway 5000. This industrialized intelligent, connected device serves to gather inputs from the “things” of the system, perform some analytics, and serve them to the cloud. The second was announced jointly with Satya Nardella, Microsoft CEO. This is a cloud partnership where Dell will be supporting Microsoft Azure.
Some excerpts of the announcements are below, but first an observation. In the industry I cover, the CEO will usually appear for a few minutes at the keynote and talk a little about financials or the theme of the week. Then they have a motivational speaker who goes for 45 minutes. Sometimes there is a product speaker who will do 30 minuts of product introductions.
Dell held the stage for most of the 90+ minutes. He gave an outline of the new, private company, discussed the industry, interviewed several customers, yielded the floor for the CMO to talk about Dell company support for entrepreneurship, then sat for a 30 minute conversation with Nadella. He showed intelligence, grace and humor.
Here are excerpts from the product announcements.
Wednesday at Dell World, Dell and Microsoft Corp. announced a new cloud solution and program that enable organizations of all sizes to use the Microsoft cloud platform to transform their business. A new, Microsoft Azure-consistent, integrated system for hybrid cloud and extended program offerings will help more customers benefit from Azure and Dell to drive greater agility and increased time to value, whether they choose on-premises or public cloud solutions.
Dell today announced the launch of the new Edge Gateway 5000 Series purpose-built for the building and factory automation sectors. Composed of an industrial-grade form factor, expanded input and output interfaces, and with wide operating temperature ranges, the Edge Gateway 5000, combined with Dell’s data analytics capabilities, promises to give companies an edge computing solution alternative to today’s costly, proprietary IoT offerings.
The Dell Edge Gateway sits at the edge of the network (near the devices and sensors) with local analytics and other middleware to receive, aggregate, analyze and relay data, then minimizes expensive bandwidth by relaying only meaningful data to the cloud or datacenter. Thanks to new Dell Statistica data analytics also announced today, Dell is expanding capabilities out to the gateway. This means companies can now extend the benefits of cloud computing to their network edge and for faster and more secure business insights while saving on the costly transfer of data to and from the cloud.
by Gary Mintchell | Oct 12, 2015 | Automation, Internet of Things, Manufacturing IT, Networking, News, Operations Management, Security, Technology
Cisco held a Global Editors’ Conference during which I was traveling and could not attend. However, here is news gleaned from the press releases and other sources.
Cisco has been building partnerships in the industrial and manufacturing space for quite some time. Emerson partnered as part of its wireless solutions. Rockwell Automation has become a valued partner even reselling Cisco switches and routers in industrially hardened configurations.
Rockwell has also partnered with Fanuc, the robot and CNC supplier. The primary reason for the partnership I would guess would be that each helps the other penetrate more deeply into some large accounts such as GM. However, the Fanuc on the technology front has developed EtherNet/IP connectivity for its products. This enables them to share data on a standard Ethernet network.
Connectivity between Rockwell and Fanuc products along a Cisco Ethernet platform becomes interesting. Indeed, note the announcement below where Fanuc is now partnering directly with Cisco.
Cisco postulates that forty percent of today’s leading companies will be displaced from their market position by digital disruption in the next five years, yet 75 percent of these companies have yet to address this risk by prioritizing their digital strategy, according to research conducted by the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation.
To help customers navigate this important transition. Cisco is introducing four new digital solutions for industries – manufacturing, transportation, utilities, and oil and gas. The solutions aim to help customers connect machines and assets, break through information silos, and digitize data in an integrated way across the business.
Additionally, Cisco is announcing a new, industrial Internet of Things (IoT) security solution. Customers will use the Cisco IoT System Security and professional services from Cisco and partners to mitigate the risk of system disruption – and efficiently assure compliance.
Removing Barriers to Efficiency
To remain competitive, industries like manufacturing, utilities, oil and gas, and transportation need to increase productivity, deliver more value, and create better experiences for customers and end users. Some of the greatest obstacles to efficiency are operational silos. Silos separate people, machines, systems, information, and complete areas of a business; they separate information from operational technology. Breaking through silos with a more holistic and connected architecture connects people, streamlines communication and drives a more agile operation.
Four New Digital Solutions:
- Connected Machines for Digital Manufacturing: A connected architecture that redefines secure, efficient, and visible operations. This solution enables rapid, standards-based, repeatable machine connectivity, and global factory integration while enabling OEM digitization and new business models – including highly secure remote access, monitoring and serviceability of machines. FANUC America and Cisco announced that they intend to implement the solution to enable robot connectivity and analytics for proactive maintenance. At an event in San Jose, high-tech manufacturer Flex outlined how it is already using the Connected Machines solution and FANUC Robots to drive efficiency and quality in its operations. Cisco is also today announcing a series of attractively priced solution bundles to simplify and accelerate infrastructure digitization for customers for the Factory Network, Factory Wireless and Factory Security.
- Smart Connected Pipeline for Digital Oil and Gas: A connected, highly secure architecture that allows oil and gas companies more control over their pipelines, helping to protect assets from accidents or cyber-attacks. Operations are safer, more efficient – and more secure. Schneider Electric and Cisco are collaborating to bring the Smart Connected Pipeline solution to market, and are already working with customers such as Italian multinational oil and gas company, ENI.
- Substation Security for Digital Utilities: A connected and timely architecture that enables highly-secure power grids for reliable, more efficient service across the utilities industry. Now, more than ever, the nation’s power grid needs additional layers of safety and security. Utility companies in North America must comply with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC/CIP) Version 5 mandated standards. South Carolina utility SCANA will be the first to deploy Cisco’s Substation Security Solution – a solution designed to enable utilities to comply with these regulations.
- Connected Mass Transit for Digital Transportation: A connected architecture that will enable the delivery of greater safety, mobility – and a better passenger experience. Through a converged network architecture that is based on the Cisco IoT System, transit systems can enhance automation, collaboration, video, cloud-to-fog agility and business intelligence. From the management control center to the transit station – onto the roads, the rails, and onboard mass transit vehicles themselves – the Cisco solution puts safety and security first. Situated on the River Danube, the Austrian City of Linz is implementing the solution to streamline operations across its tram network.
- IoT System Security: The IoT System Security product-portfolio helps deliver highly secure connectivity, visibility and control to assure that IoT initiatives deliver competitive advantage for customers across all verticals. The Cisco IoT System Security product portfolio includes IoT-specific security with the introduction of a new, dedicated security appliance (ISA-3000 for application visibility, policy enforcement and threat defense) and a Fog Data Services security solution. With today’s announcement, the IoT network can now act as a sensor and enforcer to provide security policy enforcement within router and switches. It also provides solutions for IoT physical security with video surveillance cameras, physical access control, and video surveillance manager with advanced security analytics. Cisco will continue to expand its IoT System security offering through additional developments and collaboration with key ecosystem partners, including Rockwell Automation.
A Few Quotes
Rick Schneider, North America CEO, FANUC: “Preventing unplanned downtime is a huge savings for our customers and makes the FANUC robots with ZDT a tremendous value. With Cisco, we are helping our customers access this new value and also re-imagining our go-to-market strategy for after-sales service and support. This has the potential to have the biggest impact of anything I’ve seen in my 35-year career.”
Murad Kurwa, Senior Vice President of Engineering, Advanced Engineering Group at Flex: “Cisco’s vision of the power of Industrial IoT was realized through joint collaboration using automation as the enabler. With Universal Mechanical Assembly process partnering with FANUC, we are now able to get data to create a pool of knowledge. This helps us take action through analytics and ultimately leads to a more robust ‘process’ performance – leading to a world class, smart factory.”
Ed Rodden, CIO, SugarCreek: “We are using Cisco’s Connected Machines solution as we build our new 418,000 square foot factory of the future. Cisco’s new Industrial IoT platform will provide us the ability to use all our company’s available pieces of data, including video and security, from all kinds of devices and to tie them all together to drive more operational efficiency in the new factory.”
Sujeet Chand, Sr. Vice President & CTO, Rockwell Automation: “The Cisco IoT System Security solution will make an immediate impact for customers by accelerating secure IT-OT convergence with an end-to-end security solution, simplifying compliance and mitigating threat vectors. Together with Cisco, we are helping industrial operations maintain the integrity and confidentially of their network in support of holistic enterprise risk management strategies throughout a Connected Enterprise.”
James Bielstein, CIO, Advanced Manufacturing Deployment for GE’s manufacturing facilities worldwide: “In order to start down the path to becoming a Brilliant Factory, the first step is to deploy a modern IT infrastructure. This infrastructure will give our plants the flexibility and security needed to develop a ‘digital thread’ from product design to shipping. Cisco is part of GE’s Brilliant Factory architecture.”
Georg Linhard, Project Manager for LINZ AG TELEKOM: “We decided to build on our existing Cisco network and channel its agility and simplicity to incorporate new security, mobile, and analytics technologies that help us achieve our goals and gain greater business insight.”
Patrick Albos, SVP, Oil and Gas Segment, Schneider Electric: “The Smart Connected Pipeline brings SCADA and IT infrastructure together in a converged, secure, easy to deploy and use platform, and brings significant business value in optimizing and reducing cost of pipeline operations.”