I remember Stratus Technologies for years as a fault-tolerant server company that was almost alone exhibiting at manufacturing events. It has been an aggressive innovator for the past several years. This was just released today.
The company now bills itself as a global leader in simplified, protected, autonomous Edge Computing platforms. It today unveiled enhancements to its ztC Edge portfolio, which includes the ztC Edge 100i and ztC Edge 110i. This update delivers an improved and more efficient deployment and provisioning experience to help organizations quickly install the zero-touch Edge Computing platforms across multiple locations. In addition, new manageability, security, and performance enhancements will help partners and customers reduce their cost of operations and maintenance, minimize risk of data loss, and ensure high availability for all business-critical operations.
The ztC Edge is a secure, rugged, highly automated Edge Computing platform that helps organizations achieve peak performance through increased operational efficiency and zero downtime at the edge. With its built-in virtualization, automated protection, industrial interoperability and more, ztC Edge ensures that customers can quickly and easily achieve higher availability for their essential applications.
- ztC Edge system settings and user preferences can now quickly and easily be stored to a local drive or the Stratus Cloud. Simplified system backup and restoration will help companies save time by automating certain processes and reducing user error.
- Different templates can be created and archived for different use cases, workloads, or locations, making commissioning systems more efficient and accurate. Organizations can use these templates to rapidly provision single, or multiple ztC Edge platforms from remote areas. This is especially important for partners who implement and manage multiple platforms across multiple customers’ facilities and properties, making it easier for them to support systems and applications from one off-site location remotely.
- The latest version of the ztC Edge is Microsoft Azure certified, with integration capabilities embedded in the platform for simple systems management and faster time to value for customers.
- The ztC Edge 110i update introduces a new secure, cloud-based file repository, called the Stratus Cloud, for partners and customers to safely transmit, store and retrieve their ztC Edge system preference templates. Unlike other third-party cloud offerings, Stratus Cloud automatically authenticates users and groups using the same credentials as their Stratus Customer Service Portal account, saving partners and customers time and effort.
- The ztC Edge 110i also comes with expanded 64 GB memory capacity to support a broader range of memory-intensive industrial workloads, giving customers more choice and flexibility in consolidating multiple applications (such as SCADA) on one machine – saving costs and increasing agility.
- ztC Edge 110i platforms are now Class I Division 2 certified, making them safe to deploy in hazardous locations. This certification allows ztC Edge to be implemented in a wider variety of industrial settings with more significant environmental variability.
The ztC Edge’s built-in virtualization makes applications portable, while the computing platform also provides greater availability, resilience, and data protection than other platforms. Numerous out-of-the-box capabilities improve the security of customers’ ztC Edge platforms, thus upgrading their security posture and mitigating risk. ztC Edge platforms also support common OT and IT protocols, tools, and standards, such as SNMP and OPC UA, which makes them easy to integrate into, and work with, existing environments, saving partners and customers time.
“One of the biggest threats to customers is adding technology that is undependable and not secure. Customers should never have to worry about these risks when modernizing their Edge Computing capabilities,” said Jason Andersen, vice president of business line management at Stratus. “For some organizations, having highly reliable and protected platforms in place is imperative to the success of their business. They depend on these platforms to be ‘always-on’, secure, and able to run in any environment without human monitoring, maintenance, repairs, or support.”
“With 40 years of experience protecting business-critical applications and environments, our ztC Edge platform has evolved to address challenges around performance, security, and manageability for computing at the edge,” said Jason Dietrich, chief revenue officer at Stratus. “Stratus partners can trust they are providing customers simple, protected and autonomous Edge Computing solutions that will maximize their operational efficiency while minimizing their operational, financial and reputational risk.”
Sander Rotmensen of Siemens automotive test center in Nuremberg, Germany and Yongbin Wei of Qualcomm recently discussed the birth of 5G networks for industrial applications. The occasion concerned the press release announcing implementation of a 5G private industrial network.
We’ve all heard about 5G and worries from a variety of national governments about whether another country is embedding spy firmware in its local company’s products. Personally, I think the worry is both silly and well-founded. Every country that houses a company in the market most likely has intelligence agents trying to do the same thing. (I could go into my university education and acquaintance with a professor with “former” CIA ties, but that goes too far afield.) And all companies will deny any tie.
And…we are going to use 5G because the benefits are great. A benefit everyone mentions is the ability to build private networks for a local facility. The network has very low latency and built-in 5-9s (99.999%) uptime.
And what are some of the use cases we can anticipate? Rotmensen and Wei provided a list of ideas:
- Mobile equipment (tablets, etc.)
- Assisted Workers (remote video/audio to experts, etc.)
- Backhaul depending upon geography
- Autonomous machines–robots, cobots with communication and low latency
- Autonomous logistics
- Edge computing, larger amounts of data with low latency
With the final release of IEEE Time Sensitive Networking still years away, 5G is looking very good. We are on release 15 presently. Release 16 is anticipated in June, 2020. With release 17, the increased capacity would easily handle pretty dense machine-to-machine and IoT applications.
First Private Standalone Industrial 5G Network
Showing the benefits of today’s trend toward cooperation and partnerships, this joint proof-of-concept network will explore the capabilities of 5G standalone networks for industrial applications.
The private 5G standalone (SA) network in a real industrial environment uses the 3.7-3.8GHz band. Both companies have joined forces in this project: Siemens is providing the actual industrial test conditions and end devices such as Simatic control systems and IO devices and Qualcomm is supplying the 5G test network and the relevant test equipment.
The 5G network was installed in Siemens’ Automotive Showroom and Test Center in Nuremberg. Automated guided vehicles are (AGV) displayed here which are primarily used in the automotive industry. New manufacturing options and methods are also developed, tested and presented before they are put into action on customer sites. This allows Siemens’ customers, such as automated guided vehicle manufacturers, to see the products interact live.
The Automotive Showroom and Test Center enables Siemens and Qualcomm to test all the different technologies in a standalone 5G network under actual operating conditions and to come up with solutions for the industrial applications of the future. Qualcomm Technologies installed the 5G test system comprising infrastructure and end devices in less than three weeks. Siemens provided the actual industrial setup including Simatic control systems and IO devices.
“Industrial 5G is the gateway to an all-encompassing, wireless network for production, maintenance, and logistics. High data rates, ultra-reliable transmission, and extremely low latencies will allow significant increases in efficiency and flexibility in industrial added value,” says Eckard Eberle, CEO Process Automation at Siemens. “We are therefore extremely pleased to have this collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies so that we can drive forward the development and technical implementation of private 5G networks in the industrial sector. Our decades of experience in industrial communication and our industry expertise combined with Qualcomm Technologies’ know-how are paving the way for wireless networks in the factory of the future.”
“This project will provide invaluable real-world learnings that both companies can apply to future deployments and marks an important key milestone as 5G moves into industrial automation,” said Enrico Salvatori, Senior Vice President & President, Qualcomm Europe/MEA. “Combining our 5G connectivity capabilities with Siemens’ deep industry know-how will help us deploy technologies, refine solutions, and work to make the smart industrial future a reality.”
The German Federal Network Agency has reserved a total bandwidth of 100 MHz from 3.7 GHz to 3.8 GHz for use on local industrial sites. German companies are thus able to rent part of this bandwidth on an annual basis and to make exclusive use of it on their own operating sites in a private 5G network whilst also providing optimum data protection. Siemens is using this principle to evaluate and test industrial protocols such as OPC UA and Profinet in its Automotive Showroom and Test Center together with wireless communication via 5G.
Many engineers and programmers like open source projects combined with open APIs. Some open source catches on and quietly becomes widely used. Others languish. The Linux Foundation’s Edge project, especially EdgeX Foundry, keeps quietly growing. What are the odds that this becomes a widely used Internet of Things tool?
Today’s news in brief:
- EdgeX’s fifth release offers more scalable solutions to move data from devices to cloud, enterprise and on-premises applications
- The first LF Edge project to achieve Stage 3 ratification, EdgeX hits widespread adoption and production-level maturity
- EdgeX and LF Edge onsite at IoT Solutions World Congress with demos from Dell Technologies, Home Edge, IOTech and Project EVE
EdgeX Foundry, a project under the LF Edge umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for IoT edge computing independent of connectivity protocol, hardware, operating system, applications or cloud, announced the availability of its “Fuji” release. This release offers additional security and testing features on top of the production-ready “Edinburgh” release launched this spring.
“EdgeX Foundry has experienced significant momentum in developing an open IoT platform for edge-related applications and shows no signs of slowing down,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “As the only Stage 3 project under LF Edge, EdgeX Foundry is a clear example of how open collaboration is the key to an active community dedicated to creating an interoperable open source framework across IoT, Enterprise, Cloud and Telco Edge.”
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. As a Stage 3 project under LF Edge, EdgeX is a self-sustaining cycle of development, maintenance, and long-term support. As an example of the rapidly accelerating use of the code, EdgeX hit a milestone of 1 million platform container downloads, which almost half of these took place in the last few months.
“The 1M container download isn’t our only milestone,” said Keith Steele, EdgeX Foundry chair of the Technical Steering Committee and LF Edge Governing Board member. “The development team has expanded with more than 150 active contributors globally and the partner ecosystem of complementary products and services continues to increase. As a result, we’re seeing more end-user case studies that range from energy and utilities, building automation, industrial process control and factory automation, smart cities, retail stores and distribution and health monitoring.”
The Fuji Release
As the fifth release in the EdgeX Foundry roadmap, Fuji offers significant enhancements to the Edinburgh 1.0 release, which launched in July, including:
- New and improved security features to include PKI infrastructure for token/key generation.
- Application services that now offer full replacement capability to the older export services provided with previous EdgeX releases. These application services offer more scalable and easier to use solutions to get data from the EdgeX framework to cloud, enterprise and on-premises applications.
- Example application services are provided with this release to allow users to quickly move data from EdgeX to the Azure and AWS IoT platforms.
- A new applications function Software Development Kit (SDK) also provides the EdgeX user community with the ability to create new and customized solutions on top of EdgeX – for example, allowing EdgeX to move edge data to legacy and non-standard environments.
- Unit test coverage is considerably increased (in some services by more than 200 percent) across EdgeX core and supporting microservices.
- New device service connectors to BLE, BACNet, IP camera, OPC UA, GPS, and REST device services.
- Choices for commercially-supported EdgeX device connectors are also starting to blossom with offerings for CANopen, PROFINET, Zigbee, and EtherCat available through EdgeX community members.
Inaugural EdgeX Open
The EdgeX Foundry community recently kicked off a series of hackathons, titled the EdgeX Open. More than 70 attendees participated in the first event on October 7- 8, 2019, in Chicago. Hosted by LF Edge and the Retail Industry Leader Association (RILA), and sponsored by Canonical, Dell Technologies, Deep Vision, Intel, IOTech, IoTium and Zededa, the event featured five teams that competed in retail use case categories. More details on the event, including the winning use case from Volteo, are available in this blog post.
The next hackathon will coincide with the Geneva release, targeted for Spring 2020. It will be centered on the Manufacturing vertical and held in a location in Europe.
The IT architecture of industrial / manufacturing applications increasingly boosts the role of cloud and edge. These technologies have become core to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and improved Software as a Service (SaaS).
These recent acquisition news items reflect the acceleration of the trend. One is from Siemens and the other PTC.
Siemens plans acquisition of Edge technology
- Siemens further expands its digitalization portfolio for industry
- Technology basis is the Docker IT standard
- Siemens Industrial Edge ecosystem enables easy and flexible use of Edge apps
Siemens is planning the acquisition of Edge technology from the US company Pixeom. With this action, Siemens is strengthening its Industrial Edge portfolio by adding software components for Edge runtime and for device management. Siemens Industrial Edge provides an ecosystem, which enables the flexible provision and use of apps. This means for example that appropriate apps can analyze data locally at the machine and send relevant data to the higher-level Industrial Edge Management System for global analytics. With this acquisition, Siemens is driving forward the expansion of its Digital Enterprise portfolio and the integration of cutting-edge technologies for the digital transformation of industry.
With the resulting Industrial Edge ecosystem, industrial companies can use production data even more efficiently and react more flexibly to changes in conditions.
Ralf-Michael Franke, CEO of Siemens’ Factory Automation Business Unit, explains: “Cutting edge technologies such as Edge Computing open up new scope for automation. With Siemens Industrial Edge, we are creating an open edge ecosystem which offers benefits for companies of any size.”
Siemens is using Docker standard container technology: the provision of apps in the management system will therefore be just as simple as functional upgrades and updates of Edge devices in the factory from a central point.
Siemens intends to acquire this technology from Pixeom and use it in the Factory Automation Business Unit, which is part of Siemens Digital Industries. Pixeom has sites in San José, California and Udaipur, India and employs 81 people worldwide. Closing of the transaction is planned for the fourth quarter of 2019. Both companies have agreed not to comment on the financial details of the transaction.
PTC Makes SaaS Acquisition
I sat in on the analysts/press conference where PTC president and CEO Jim Heppelmann discussed the reason for this announced acquisition of Onshape, creators of the “first” Software as a Service product development platform. The company had also just released fourth quarter results. PTC has a little more than $1 billion in revenues, with about 45% CAD and 35% PLM. Interestingly, the IoT business contributes just over 10% of revenues.
Onshape’s product development platform unites computer aided design (CAD) with data management and collaboration tools, for approximately $470 million, net of cash acquired. The acquisition is expected to accelerate PTC’s ability to attract new customers with a SaaS-based product offering and position the company to capitalize on the inevitable industry transition to SaaS. Heppelmann believes that that cloud-based SaaS is the future of CAD. Pending regulatory approval and satisfaction of other closing conditions, the transaction is expected to be completed in November 2019.
Located in Cambridge, MA, Onshape was founded in 2012 by CAD pioneers and tech legends, including Jon Hirschtick, John McEleney, and Dave Corcoran, inventors and former executives of SolidWorks. Onshape has secured more than $150 million in funding from leading venture capital firms and has more than 5,000 subscribers around the world. The company’s software offering is delivered in a SaaS model, making it accessible from any connected location or device, eliminating the need for costly hardware and administrative staff to maintain. Distributed and mobile teams of designers, engineers, and others can benefit from the product’s cloud nature, enabling them to improve collaboration and to dramatically reduce the time needed to bring new products to market – while simultaneously staying current with the latest software.
“PTC has earned a reputation for successfully pursuing new innovations that drive corporate growth,” said Heppelmann. “Building on the strong momentum we have with our on-premises CAD and PLM businesses, we look to our future and see a new growth play with SaaS.”
This acquisition is the logical next step in PTC’s overall evolution to a recurring revenue business model, the first step of which was the company’s successful transition to subscription licensing, completed in January 2019. The SaaS model, while nascent in the CAD and PLM market, is rapidly becoming industry best practice across most other software domains.
“Today, we see small and medium-sized CAD customers in the high-growth part of the CAD market shifting their interest toward SaaS delivery models, and we expect interest from larger customers to grow over time,” continued Heppelmann. “The acquisition of Onshape complements our on-premises business with the industry’s only proven, scalable pure SaaS platform, which we expect will open new CAD and PLM growth opportunities while positioning PTC to be the leader as the market transitions toward the SaaS model.”
For customers, the SaaS model enables faster work, improved collaboration and innovation, with lower up-front costs and with no IT infrastructure to administer and maintain. For software providers, the SaaS model has been proven to generate a more stable and predictable revenue stream, increase customer loyalty as customers benefit from earlier adoption of technology innovations, and enable expansions into new segments and geographies.
“At Onshape, we share PTC’s vision for helping organizations transform the way they develop products,” said Jon Hirschtick, CEO and co-founder, Onshape. “We and PTC believe that the product development industry is nearing the ‘tipping point’ for SaaS adoption of CAD and data management tools. We look forward to empowering the customers we serve with the latest innovations to improve their competitive positions.”
Onshape will operate as a business unit within PTC, with current management reporting directly to Heppelmann.
Major IT companies have been scrambling to compete in the Industrial Internet of Things market. The control, instrumentation, and automation companies all talk about how this is all stuff they’ve been doing for years, or even decades, this is really quite new.
The first IT company people I talked with talked about selling boxes—gateways or edge computing. I’m thinking that there’s not enough money in that market. And, I was right. As the companies flesh out their strategies, the IoT group leadership keeps moving higher up the corporate ladder. And the vision broadens to include much of the portfolio of the companies enabling them to progressively enhance their competitive positions within their major customers.
Hitachi Vantara has recently been talking with me about their approach to the problem. I learned about Vantara and its focus initially through people I knew who landed new positions there. Life is always about serendipity. In the past, I’ve reported on the Lumada platform and the way the company is building modularly atop it. There was Maintenance Insights and then Video Insights. Now unveiled is Manufacturing Insights. I will get a deeper dive and talk to customers the second week of October when I attend its customer conference.
Note that these applications have more in common with MES than what you might think of as simply connecting devices with IIoT. In other words, the value proposition and integration into the customer grows.
Let’s discuss the latest addition to the Hitachi Lumada platform, Manufacturing Insights, which the company describes as a suite of industrial internet-of-things (IoT) solutions that empower the manufacturing industry to achieve transformative outcomes from data-driven insights. Using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and DataOps, Lumada Manufacturing Insights optimizes machine, production, and quality outcomes.
“Data and analytics have the power to modernize and transform manufacturing operations. But for too many manufacturers today, legacy infrastructure and disconnected software and processes slow innovation and impact competitive advantage,” said Brad Surak, chief product and strategy officer at Hitachi Vantara. “With Lumada Manufacturing Insights, customers can lay a foundation for digital innovation that works with the systems and software they have already to operationalize immediate gains in uptime, efficiency and quality and transform for the future.”
Accelerate Manufacturing Transformations
Lumada Manufacturing Insights applies data science rigor to drive continuous improvement opportunities based on predictive and prescriptive analytics. The solution integrates with existing applications and delivers actionable insights without the need for a rip-and-replace change of costly manufacturing equipment or applications. Lumada Manufacturing Insights supports a variety of deployment options and can run on-premises or in the cloud.
“With Hitachi Vantara, our customers benefit from our deep operational technology expertise and distinctive approach to co-creating with them to accelerate their digital journey,” said Bobby Soni, chief solutions and services officer at Hitachi Vantara. “With our proven methodologies and advanced tools, we can tailor solutions for our customers that enhance productivity, increase the speed of delivery, and ultimately deliver greater business outcomes.”
Providing machine, production and quality analytics, Lumada Manufacturing Insights drives transformational business outcomes by enabling customers to:
• Build on the intelligent manufacturing maturity model and empower the digital innovation foundation for continuous process improvement.
• Integrate data silos and stranded assets and augment data from video, lidar, and other advanced sensors to drive innovative new use cases for competitive advantage.
• Drive 4M (machine, man, material and methods) correlations for root-cause analysis at scale.
• Evaluate overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and enhancement recommendations based on advanced AI and ML techniques.
• Evaluate scheduling efficiency and optimize for varying workloads, rates of production and workorder backlogs.
• Monitor and guide product quality with predictive and prescriptive insights.
• Improve precision of demand forecast and adherence to production plans and output.
I hope to get more depth while I’m at the Next 2019 user conference Oct. 9-10. Here are some supplied quotes.
“Significant short-lead products have to be designed, prototyped and delivered to meet the demands of our customers and partners as we accelerate the product supply for 5G. Ericsson and Hitachi Vantara have collaborated to test Lumada Manufacturing Insights to gear up for an anticipated increase in new product introductions, establishing a digital innovation foundation for sustained gains,” said Shannon Lucas, head of customer unit emerging business for Ericsson North America. “We are leveraging the same solution that we will take to our joint customers in partnership with Hitachi Vantara, and will further expand IIoT use cases based on our 5G technologies.”
“As a progressive manufacturer, our focus was to accelerate transformative change, eliminate data silos and build a foundation for digital innovation that would accelerate our journey toward Manufacturing 4.0. “We leveraged the IIoT workshop to align our use cases with our business transformation priorities and have a roadmap for success with Lumada Manufacturing Insights,” said Vijay Kamineni, business transformation leader at Logan Aluminum. “The collaboration with Hitachi Vantara enables us to define business goals for each stage of our transformation, with clear outcomes that we believe will accelerate gains in productivity, quality, safety and sustainable manufacturing. “Hitachi Vantara brings a unique IT/OT advantage that will help us in the long run.”
“Humans and machines working together to deliver the vision of ‘digital drilling’ is driven by our ambition to achieve transformative outcomes, drilling our best wells every time and consistently achieving Target Zero for accidents. With Hitachi Vantara, we are realizing time to value with industrial analytics and the powerful Lumada platform to process more than 20,000 data streams per second per rig, providing actionable information to the right people at the right time and helping make optimal decisions. This drives our operational excellence and consequently our competitive advantage,” said Shuja Goraya, CTO at Precision Drilling Corporation. “We’re leveraging insights from video and lidar, integrating it with Lumada Manufacturing Insights to deliver business outcomes. It’s driving process optimization through effectively identifying improvement opportunities and shortening well delivery times for our customers. It’s all about effective use of data to make better decisions and then being able to consistently execute on these learnings. We are excited about our strategic partnership with Hitachi Vantara.”
Lumada Manufacturing Insights will be available worldwide Sept. 30, 2019.