Platform for Secure and Scalable Cloud-Native Edge Application Management

Platform for Secure and Scalable Cloud-Native Edge Application Management

The CEO of Zededa told me in an interview a few months ago that his mission was no less than to build the largest computing company on Earth without owning infrastructure. Its vision—create a new edge economy that allows applications to run anywhere.

When I wrote in April, the company was emerging from stealth mode. Its most recent announcement proclaims:

  • First demonstrable cloud-native platform for edge applications, early customer access to end-to-end app operations platform purpose built for the edge underway
  • Zero-touch infrastructure modernization for legacy embedded systems; simple to move legacy apps and OS from outdated systems to newer, cloud-native edge hardware
  • Zededa joins EdgeX Foundry to bolster the organization’s vision of an open and secure cloud-native future that enables all new IoT applications
  • Major edge system vendors turning to Zededa for operational automation, insights and protection of applications running on their systems

Zededa announced early access to its platform that provides real-time apps a simple “on-ramp” to the cloud-native edge. From legacy embedded systems to modern, AI-based IoT apps, the platform provides the scalability, security and visibility required to allow operations teams to unlock the power of real-time apps without concerns about bandwidth, latency or dependency on the cloud.

Operations technology teams have three primary situations to deal with when it comes to IoT applications: how to upgrade and secure a massive install base of legacy embedded systems, how to retrofit existing equipment with IoT sensors and applications to take advantage of real-time data, and how to deploy entirely new applications like AI-powered robots and self-driving fleets.

Closed, monolithic systems at the edge—either closed by design or closed because of legacy embedded device development workflows—are the last major impediment to solving these problems and enabling IoT to achieve its stated $1.3 trillion market potential. Zededa’s platform demonstrates how cloud-native edge solves the most urgent problem for organizations looking into digital transformation—upgrading and protecting legacy systems without truck-rolls—and gives solution providers a way to easily adopt IoT sensors and industrial gateways to provide real-time data to operational software. Initial natively-supported hardware partners include platforms built on ARM and Intel x86 processors from leading vendors including Advantech Corporation, Lanner, SuperMicro, and Scalys.

“Cloud-native edge computing will be a diverse universe unlike anything in cloud datacenters today,” said Roman Shaposhnik, VP of Product and Strategy at Zededa. “We are making the modernization of edge infrastructure secure, simple and automated in preparation for a fundamental shift away from legacy embedded systems. An open system that allows BYO hardware into a cloud-native platform is a start of the future: a computing environment that is distributed, autonomous and cooperative.”

To help drive entirely new applications and operational possibilities at the edge across a diverse universe of devices, Zededa has joined EdgeX Foundry, a vendor-neutral open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation with a goal to build a common open framework for IoT edge computing.

“Interoperability and convergence on common industry standards is vital for organizations deploying next-generation distributed computing solutions at the IoT Edge,” said Jason Shepherd, Chair of EdgeX Foundry Governing Board and Dell Technologies IoT CTO. “By joining EdgeX Foundry’s efforts Zededa will help promote the project’s important work of creating an open ecosystem of secure, interoperable edge applications that will change user experiences and drive the future of business.”

Currently providing early access to select customers, Zededa is accepting sign-ups for demonstrations and private briefings.

Founded in 2016, Zededa is pioneering a cloud-native approach to the deployment, management and security of real-time edge applications at hyperscale for solutions ranging from self-driving cars to industrial robots. Zededa is headquartered in Santa Clara, CA with engineering and market development teams based in India, UK, Germany and Korea.

EdgeX Foundry is an open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation building a common open framework for IoT edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components that unifies the marketplace and accelerates the deployment of IoT solutions. Designed to run on any hardware or operating system and with any combination of application environments, EdgeX enables developers to quickly create flexible IoT edge solutions that can easily adapt to changing business needs.

Gaining Business Benefits Through IoT and Edge Computing in Industry

Gaining Business Benefits Through IoT and Edge Computing in Industry

Fourth in the series of posts as I digest all of the information I gathered at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Discover 2018 in Las Vegas. This post focuses on use cases. Yes, people, there are people some in manufacturing and some not who are using HPE IoT and Edge computing for fun and profit.

First off, a panel assembled by Tom Bradicich, VP and GM IoT and Edge and Ph.D. entitled Intelligence at the Edge.

Nathalie Elad of Comcast- We are an aggregator of data from homes sending this data from local server to cloud. He is working with HPE on virtualization. No, it doesn’t collect individual family usage to sell to others (yes, it came up). But the company does need data to know how to channel bandwidth. The challenge-“we double bits every 18 months and need to flex up and down during the day.” Interesting stat—there used to be 3.3 devices per house, now may be 20 or even 30.

Tim Thai, Tesla- OT—IT is still a challenge. “The Edge is dynamic, wherever business sets up shop.” Regarding IoT, there are “Things” in manufacturing-control and sensors. They incorporate sensors in testing of technology in cars. Not to mention “there are a ton of sensors in a car.”

Philip Rostle, Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 racing, discussed F1 race car as the edge. There are lots of channels coming off the car during a race. They measure performance versus predicted. You think you have connection problems, he described connection in race as “variable”. Every car has a GPS. They track all cars in the race trying to predict status of the other cars. They run scenarios, analytics, quickly at the edge during a race to help determine strategy. Took “moonshot” server power to the edge so that they get maximum performance within the rules of F1.

In a special breakfast session, we talked with the CTO of the Ryder Cup and European PGA Tour. Think you know golf? Ever wonder about some of the stats that the TV announcers can quote during an event? Well, the tour requires a lot of data. And to get that data, they need connectivity. Golf is also an entertainment event. There are 50,000 spectators at the Ryder Cup. They all expect WiFi to access real-time information about the tournament.

First the data. Every shot has a dozen parameters to capture for every golfer. These are logged on the course. To connect, they use Aruba wireless networking devices. There are 30 switches and 700 access points. They collect 20K data points for scoring; 140K data points for other shot information. “Data drives insights that leads to performance for golfers.” They can track each golfer and also track spectator traffic patterns. An untold story, they lay 18km of fiber cable each tournament; ready to go for Wednesday morning and tear down beginning Sunday evening.

Mike Orr, director of digital transformation at Murphy Oil, uses Edgeline on oil platforms. He noted that his biggest hurdle was working with IT mostly due to its legacy software systems. He made this technology economics point—when oil went from $140 to $20, company laid off many workers. The only way he could get his work done was with technology.

I’ve already discussed the Texmark Chemicals “Refinery of the Future” use case, but I learned a few additional points at this conference.

Intel supplied streaming video analytics—used for physical security/monitoring, open gate for railway access allowed humans and critters into the site, monitored for exception to alert operators.

Deloitte is developing an IoT practice. It assembled an ecosystem including NI, Allied, ThingWorx, OSIsoft, SparkCognition AI for pumps. It also developed the operator dashboards for the project.

All together there were 12 partners in the ecosystem that completed the project that included predictive maintenance for two critical pumps and the video surveillance system.

HPE coordinated the entire project.

The insurance company was impetus to do something to upgrade the technology. Texmark kicked off the project by renting a party bus and taking 15 employees to the HPE IoT lab in Houston. They saw a demo of a pump with FlowServe monitoring and analytics. Employees discussed and picked the initial project targets—two critical pumps in the process plus the “video as a sensor” for the railway access. Getting early employee involvement was the key factor for successful implementation.

HPE Unveils Enhanced Edge Solutions

HPE Unveils Enhanced Edge Solutions

Antonio Neri, CEO and President of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), used the phrase “Data is the new currency, memory the new gold” in his keynote to the company’s annual US customer conference Discover in Las Vegas in June. Just one of the many places I’ve been lately.

If you haven’t planned for data in your machine and process control designs, you had best begin.The race for improved operations performance is on now.

We talk often of “edge” in the world of Internet of Things or Industrial Internet of Things. The edge has many definitions, but it can be defined as any place outside a data center. PLCs, for example, not only perform logic control, but they also aggregate data from perhaps thousands of sensors. SCADA devices and industrial computers also collect and channel data from a few to many sensors and data sources.

Business operations managers are hungry for this data to feed their information systems that in turn fuel their business decisions. Data in context is information. Information correctly presented to decision makers leads to better, faster decisions—and a competitive edge.

This search for competitive edge has moved me from an emphasis on control and automation (something we still need to do well) to Industrial Internet of Things. The IIot is taken by many as a similar strategy to Industrie 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing or whatever different countries call their strategies. This means I’m looking at a new generation of edge computing, enhance networking standards, human-centered design for mobile visualization of data, and even Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These are not far-out technologies any longer. They are here and applications are growing.

Neri talked about the future as edge-centric, cloud-enabled, data-driven. He said the edge is where the action is, where the data is created. HPE is going to invest $4 billion in the intelligent edge over the next 4 years.

The company announced a new edge computing device with enterprise grade computing power (far beyond a PC) plus up to 48TB (yes that’s Tera not Giga) of memory. Oh, and it also comes in an environmentally hardened package. The CTO of Murphy Oil talked of using these on off-shore oil rigs.

Texmark Chemicals is a Houston, Texas based petrochemical refiner. I had several opportunities to talk with them about their IoT projects. They orchestrated an ecosystem of 12 suppliers initially to instrument critical pumps in their process in order to achieve predictive maintenance. This potentially saves the company millions of dollars by avoiding catastrophic failure. (Note: I previously wrote about the Texmark use case here–and expect more to come.)

Back to the announcement from HPE about the new edge product—a family of edge-to-cloud solutions enabled by HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems to help organizations simplify their hybrid IT environment. By running the same enterprise applications at the edge, in data centers and in the cloud, the solutions allow organizations to more efficiently capitalize on the vast amounts of data created in remote and distributed locations like factories, oil rigs or energy grids.

(Dr. Tom Bradicich wrote a blog post you can find here.)

HPE’s new edge-to-cloud solutions operate unmodified enterprise software from partners Citrix, GE Digital, Microsoft, PTC, SAP and SparkCognition, both on HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems – rugged, compact systems delivering immediate insight from data at the edge – and on data center and cloud platforms. This capability enables customers to harness the value of the data generated at the edge to increase operational efficiency, create new customer experiences and introduce new revenue streams. At the same time, edge-to-cloud solutions enabled by HPE Edgeline simplify the management of the hybrid IT environment, as the same application and management software can be used from edge to cloud.

“The edge is increasingly becoming a centerpiece of the digital enterprise where things and people generate and act on massive amounts of data,” said Dr. Tom Bradicich, Vice President and General Manager, IoT and Converged Edge Systems, HPE. “Our edge-to-cloud solutions help bring enterprise-class IT capabilities from the data center to the edge. This reduces software and IT administration costs, while accelerating insight and control across the organization and supply chain.”

HPE also announced the HPE Edgeline Extended Storage Adapter option kit, adding up to 48 terabytes of software-defined storage to HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems. This enhancement enables storage-intensive use cases like artificial intelligence (AI), video analytics or databases at the edge, while leveraging industry-standard storage management tools such as Microsoft Storage Spaces, HPE StoreVirtual VSA, and VMware vSAN.

IIC Releases Paper Introduction To Edge Computing in IIoT

IIC Releases Paper Introduction To Edge Computing in IIoT

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) generates much useful information promoting awareness and technical tips about, well, the Industrial Internet of Things. Last week I had the opportunity to speak to the authors of a new white paper, ”Introduction to Edge Computing in IIoT”, Todd Edmunds, Senior Solution Architect, IoT, Cisco, and Lalit Canaran, VP, SAP.

The paper provides practical guidance on edge computing, architectures and the building blocks necessary for edge computing implementations. The IIC is also planning to release an Edge Computing Technical Report that will contain in-depth technical information in the coming months.

This paper is not a C-level generic paper evangelizing the concept, but rather practical advice designed to open the discussion followed by technical details targeted to those to whom the C-level executives might tell, “I have been reading about the IIoT. This looks like something we should be jumping into.”

We discussed how the edge should be defined by the business objective rather than the technology used. Using computing at the edge improves performance of the system when bandwidth could be the constraining factor for using the cloud.

As the edge gets more powerful, they told me, the role of the cloud will shift to one of orchestration of remote sites plus storage.

“Many companies are wanting to realize the business benefits that edge computing is purported to provide but are unsure where to begin or how to realize those advantages. The IIC has been at the vanguard of the industrial internet since its inception, and edge computing has been an integral part of driving the transformational outcomes that go along with it,” said Edmunds. “With the publication of this white paper, we provide practical guidance on where the ‘edge’ is and the key drivers for implementing edge computing. We also provide detail on edge computing architectures and real-world use cases.”

“Almost every use case and every connected device on the industrial internet requires some sort of compute capability at its source at the edge,” said Dr. Mitch Tseng, Distinguished Consultant, Huawei Technologies, and co-author of the white paper. “Oil rigs in remote locations have sensors gathering data but they need to be mindful of the challenges of data transmission because of bandwidth issues or the cost of transmission. The white paper is a first step in the development of an industrial grade ‘cookbook’ for edge computing.”

“Organizations adopting an IIoT strategy need to understand what data is available, how to use it to drive industrial processes and how to orchestrate, manage and secure data/compute,” said Canaran. “This paper and subsequent technical report will enable enterprises to unlock the full potential of the edge-cloud continuum and drive the business outcomes enabled by next-generation IoT devices, machine learning and AI.”

The full IIC Introduction to Edge Computing in IIoT white paper and a list of IIC members who contributed can be found on the IIC website.

Avnu Alliance and TSN Developments at Hannover Messe

Avnu Alliance and TSN Developments at Hannover Messe

Hannover Messe continues to reflect the trend of companies joining alliances to develop and promote standards and interoperability. While I did not have an interview with the Avnu Alliance while I was in Hannover, I talked with some members and obtained other information. Avnu Alliance promotes adoption of the Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) extension to Ethernet.

Specifically, Avnu Alliance is a community creating an interoperable ecosystem of low-latency, time-synchronized, highly reliable networked devices using open standards. Avnu creates comprehensive certification programs to ensure interoperability of networked devices. The foundational technology enables deterministic synchronized networking based on IEEE Audio Video Bridging (AVB) / Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) base standards. The Alliance, in conjunction with other complimentary standards bodies and alliances, provides a united network foundation for use in professional AV, automotive, industrial control and consumer segments.

The adoption pace of TSN from 2017 to 2018 was amazing.

I always drop by the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) area at Hannover and check out the TSN Testbed for Flexible Manufacturing. The testbed was developed with two major goals – to show TSN’s readiness to accelerate the marketplace; and to show the business value of TSN in converged, deterministic IIoT networks. Momentum is increasing for the testbed, with the IIC hosting its 10th plugfest in an 18-month timeframe at the Bosch Rexroth facility in Frankfurt, Germany and its 9th plugfest, which was held in Austin, TX in February at National Instruments (NI) headquarters following a joint workshop on interoperability with Avnu Alliance. The TSN Testbed recently integrated test tools from Avnu Alliance members, Calnex, Ixia and Spirent into plugfest activities, and demonstrated interoperability of TSN devices from more than 25 companies performing real-time automation and control automation functions over TSN.

Any Avnu Alliance member is welcome to join the IIC TSN Testbed or to participate in a plugfest. Upcoming plugfests will be held in Austin, TX from June 26-29, 2018 and in Stuttgart from July 24-27, 2018.

The Edge Computing Consortium (ECC) along with members and Avnu Alliance, hosted a press conference to announce new developments surrounding the newly created OPC UA TSN testbed. The testbed demonstrates six major IIoT scenarios mimicking processes found in smart manufacturing settings and utilizing products across different TSN vendors. Avnu Alliance is a key partner supporting the development of the testbed with the ECC in the shared goal of enabling manufacturers to test their products for interoperability and conduct trials of real-world systems as an early check for problems.

Tom Weingartner, Avnu Alliance member and Analog Devices’ marketing director for Deterministic Ethernet Technology Group, represented the Alliance at an announcement ceremony.

Paul Didier, Avnu Alliance member and IoT solutions architect, Cisco delivered a talk at the Industrie 4.0 meet the Industrial Internet Forum, in a presentation titled “Time Sensitive Networks – Where does the technology stand and what to expect”. He will provide an update on TSN and how manufacturers, alliances and liaison groups are working together to advance the technology and its implementation in the IIoT.

Paul will present an additional lecture for the Forum on “Modernizing Your Industrial Manufacturing Network”. The presentation will follow the findings coming out of the IIC TSN Testbed and its capabilities, including information on how manufacturing automation and control infrastructure vendors and key decision-makers can leverage TSN for a variety of operational benefits, including increased connectivity between devices and the ability to extract and analyze valuable information through interconnectivity.

“HANNOVER continues to be a key industry event for both Avnu Alliance members and liaison groups that we work with to educate and increase awareness of TSN as a solution for the growing IIoT,” said Todd Walter, Avnu Alliance Industrial Segment Leader and Chief Marketing Manager at NI. “Whether through the developments coming from the TSN testbeds, speaking engagements or product demonstrations, our members and partners are committed to creating an interoperable TSN network that gives all industrial devices a more streamlined path to participating in the TSN ecosystem.

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