Automation and Industrial Innovation Funding News

Automation and Industrial Innovation Funding News

Automation, Innovation, Funding news from Rockwell Automation, IoT Partners Research, Dell EMC IoT, Schneider Electric Ventures

Rockwell Automation

I started going to Automation Fair in 1997. This is the first year I have missed. I could be in any of four different venues this week. Used to be that Rockwell had the week to itself. No longer. I am not there because I don’t like Rockwell. Business considerations are taking me a different direction. Tomorrow I’ll be speaking on IoT, data, solving business problems at the Industry of Things World-East forum in Orlando. I thought about a huge tour of three cities. Then I thought again.

I posted news from Rockwell Automation yesterday about its recent collaboration with PTC. I haven’t seen anything newer coming out yet from my sources.

ABI Research

In its recent analysis ranking 547 companies on their IoT service capabilities, ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, finds that partner programs and their member companies are continuing to mature in their IoT offerings while simultaneously decreasing the average number of members per partner program.

In fact, 65% of listed organizations received a high IoT maturity grade, which is nearly 2½ times the number of organizations that received a high maturity ranking when ABI Research first analyzed these IoT ecosystems back in September 2015. Partner program parents such as Amazon Web Services, Dell, and IBM are aligning themselves with fewer, higher-value partners who can better help end-users navigate the convoluted IoT ecosystem.

Partner program parents need to ensure that their partners can effectively address the current major needs of the market while also addressing high-growth niche vertical markets, with companies like Dell and AWS showing that it’s possible to address these changing market dynamics without being encumbered by hundreds of partners. AWS’ IoT Competency program ensures that its partners have a high-depth of IoT expertise to meet end-user needs, while Dell’s IoT Solutions Partner Ecosystem is focused on having both technology and services partners who can address specific use cases.

The three most targeted verticals within these partner program ecosystems have consistently been healthcare, manufacturing, and energy applications, but over the past three years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of partners offering solutions targeting the digital signage, wearable, and smart building markets due to end-user demand.

FogHorn Partners With Dell EMC OEM Solutions

Speaking of partnerships, this came in today. FogHorn, a developer of edge intelligence software for industrial and commercial IoT applications, announced a collaboration with Dell EMC OEM Solutions to deliver end-to-end Industrial IoT (IIoT) edge computing solutions. This collaboration allows industrial and commercial customers to leverage the power of the edge quickly with an out-of-the-box solution for their Industrial IoT (IIoT) deployments – providing real-time insights to streamline operations and improve business outcomes.

By integrating FogHorn’s Lightning edge computing technology to solutions from Dell EMC, industrial and commercial customers now have access to preconfigured gateways and other devices that simplify IoT deployments. These “edgified” solutions allow clients to deploy edge computing at various end-point locations quickly, wherever the power of edge computing is needed.

Schneider Electric Ventures

Schneider Electric, who also has an event this week, has announced “Schneider Electric Ventures”, which identifies, nurtures and supports innovations that will make a major contribution to future sustainability and energy efficiency. Several major projects are underway and ready to be deployed.

‘Schneider Electric Ventures’ nurtures tomorrow’s transformational and disruptive technologies according to the press release.

The company spends €1 billion a year on R&D; and EcoStruxure, its IoT-enabled, plug and play, open, interoperable, architecture and platform is at the cutting edge of connected energy management and industrial automation.

A few months ago, the company created “Schneider Electric Ventures”. The mission of this initiative is to identify, support and nurture companies and entrepreneurs whose innovations will transform the way we live and work, how we produce and consume energy, and how we run buildings and factories.

Schneider Electric Ventures supports innovation through:

  • Funding
  • Incubation
  • Partnerships

At its Innovation Summit North America, Schneider Electric announced some projects developed by “Schneider Electric Ventures”. These projects include:

  • eIQ Mobility, a start-up and spinoff from Schneider Electric Incubator, which enables and accelerates electric mobility at scale by providing “Electric Fleet as a Service ” to large commercial fleets.
  • Clipsal Solar, a business venture for on-grid and off-grid solutions for residential and commercial applications in Australia, where 1.8 million homeowners have installed solar panels to help manage their energy bills. The market is forecasted to grow with additional 134,000 homes by 2021.
  • Greentown Labs Bold Ideas Challenge in partnership with Greentown Labs, focused on fast-tracking entrepreneurs with the mentors, team members, grants of $25,000, and business and technical resources they need to launch successful ventures.

Through its different investment vehicles, Schneider Electric also made equity investments in six companies:

  • Sense, the leader in load disaggregation technology
  • Element Analytics, a leader in industrial big data analytics
  • Habiteo, a 3D specialist for new residential housing
  • QMerit, the “Uber” for contractors & MRO spend
  • KGS, a predictive engine for just-in-time maintenance
  • Claroty, the leading Cybersecurity company for industrial OT networks

Schneider Electric has committed to invest between 300 and 500 million euros in the coming years, in incubation projects, partnerships with entrepreneurs, and specialized funds, and welcomes ideas from innovators and entrepreneurs eager to turn their ideas into reality.

Advantech Quietly an Internet of Things Leader

Advantech Quietly an Internet of Things Leader

Advantech has been appearing on a variety of lists of prominent Internet of Things suppliers. The Taiwanese computer company with a US office in Cincinnati, OH and intellectual leadership, supplies intelligent I/O, a variety of computing devices, and HMI devices.

Several years ago I was privileged to be invited to Suzhou, China to attend Advantech’s user conference. It was an impressive event. This year they called it the “first IoT Co-Creation Summit.”

More than five thousand Advantech clients and partners from around the world attended the summit. Here Advantech introduced its newest IoT platform structure WISE-PaaS 3.0 and 32 IoT solution ready packages (SRPs) co-created with software and industry partners.

The event in itself will aid in the software/hardware integration for various industries, connect and build a complete industrial IoT ecosystem and value chain, and allow Advantech and partners to officially step into the next IoT stage.

Advantech Chairman KC Liu stated that in view of IoT application characteristic’s diversity and fragmented market, Advantech has assisted industries in integrating and connecting existing hardware and software and regards creating a complete industry value chain as its primary task in IoT industry development.

Advantech is introducing new features for its WISE-PaaS 3.0 and sharing a number of IoT solution ready packages (SRPs), based on WISE-PaaS, developed with numerous co-creation partners. The company is also outlining future co-creation strategies and schedules for the upcoming year.

Allan Yang, Chief Technology Officer at Advantech said, “While IoT is currently flourishing and many companies have invested in connectivity and data collection equipment, we are still in the early stages of generating value from IoT data. Since WISE-PaaS launched in 2014, Advantech has continued its integration and improved connectivity with open source communities. Our IoT software modules are developed to create operational cloud platform services oriented around the commercial value generated by data acquisition. Data-driven innovation has thus become the main target for our WISE-PaaS evolution.

WISE-PaaS 3.0 offers four main function modules:

  • WISE-PaaS/SaaS Composer: a cloud configuration tool with visible workflow. WISE-PaaS/SaaS Composer supports customized component plotting for simple and intuitive 3D modeling application and interaction. It updates views at millisecond rates and, together with WISE-PaaS/Dashboard, presents critical management data in a visually intuitive display to help extract valuable data and improve operational efficiency.
  • WISE-PaaS/AFS (AI Framework Service): an artificial intelligence training model and deployment service framework. The WISE-PaaS/AFS provides a simple drag and drop interface that allows developers to quickly input industrial data. When combined with AI algorithms, the service builds an effective inference engine with automatic deployment to edge computing platforms. AFS offers model accuracy management, model retraining, and automated redeployment. It simultaneously controls multiple AI models in the application field; offering automated model accuracy improvements and life-cycle management services.
  • WISE-PaaS/APM (Asset Performance Management): an equipment network connection remote maintenance service framework. WISE-PaaS/APM connects to a wide array of on-site industrial equipment controls and communication protocols. It supports the latest edge computing open standard, EdgeX Foundry, and includes built-in equipment management and workflow integration templates. Jointly with the AFS, APM accelerates Machine to Intelligence (M2I) application development.
  • Microservice development framework: WISE-PaaS contains a micro service development framework to help developers rapidly create program design frameworks while reducing development requisites. Micro service functions, such as service finding, load balancing, service administration, and configuration center, all offer built-in flexible support mechanisms.

Advantech recently established a water treatment system, jointly developed with GSD (China) Co., Ltd., and a CNC equipment remote operation service, jointly developed with Yeong Chin Machinery Industries Co. Ltd. Both partnerships demonstrate how industrial digital transformations, led by Advantech and its partners through the co-creation model, offer innovative win-win IoT solutions.

Advantech’s IIoT iAutomation Group has launched a broad selection of rackmount GPU Servers from 1U to 4U. The SKY-6000 GPU server series are powered by Intel Xeon scalable processors and each of these highly scalable GPU-optimized servers support up to five NVIDIA Tesla P4 GPUs. IPMI management functions and smart fan control ensure better temperature control and thermal management environments. Every GPU pair includes one high-speed PCIe slot for highly parallel applications like artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, self-driving cars, smart city applications, health care, high performance computing, virtual reality, and much more.

AI Deep Learning GPU Solution

With support for up to five pcs of half-length half-height (HHHL) GPU cards or one full-height full-length (FHFL) double deck card, plus one full-height half-length (FHHL) GPU card, the SKY-6100 series are designed for NVidia Tesla P4 HHHL GPU cards, making it the best choice for deep learning applications.

IPMI Server Management

With IPMI 2.0 support, the SKY-6000 series allows users to monitor, manage, and control servers remotely and receive alerts if any sensors detect device or component faults. In addition, event logs record important information about the server which can be controlled remotely using the IPMI KVM.

Smart Fan Control

The optimized thermal design separates the CPU and GPU fan zones, making sure the GPU card is not preheated or thermally affected by any other heat source. Also, with the smart fan control mechanism, fan speeds are controlled based on different CPU and GPU workloads and ambient temperature. This feature lowers the acoustic noise of GPUs that have heavy loading but not CPUs. Advantech’s SKY-6000 server series are available for order now.

Open Marketplace for IoT Edge Computing

Open Marketplace for IoT Edge Computing

News from EdgeX Foundry including an open marketplace for IoT Edge Computing. This is an interesting extension to the platform. Also, Intel has joined the consortium.

At a glance:

  • EdgeX Foundry Seeds an Open Marketplace for IoT Edge Computing with New Developer Kits and Smart Building Automation
  • Community Demo at IoT Solutions World Congress
  • Intel, Redis Labs, ZEDEDA and five other tech influencers commit to IoT interoperability and join EdgeX’s mission to create a unified edge ecosystem

EdgeX Foundry, an open-source, vendor-neutral project that enables an ecosystem of plug-and-play components to unify the IoT edge computing marketplace, announced the availability of EdgeX-enabled developer kits and a Smart Building Automation Community Demonstrator that will debut at IoT Solutions World Congress on October 16-18 in Barcelona.

Hosted by The Linux Foundation, the EdgeX platform is architected to run on any hardware or operating system and unify components coded in any programming language to accelerate time to market and simplify the deployment of secure IoT solutions. The framework serves as a de facto standard to bring together any mix of existing connectivity protocols with an ecosystem of heterogeneous value-add applications.

Developer kits are important tools for building new applications and solutions. A variety of dev kits are already on the market; however, the majority of these kits lock the developer into a particular back-end platform or cloud. In comparison, dev kits based on the EdgeX framework will provide developers with the freedom to choose from an ecosystem of components bound together by the EdgeX interoperability APIs.

“With the emergence of these dev kits, developers will have the opportunity to prototype with their choice of ingredients while taking advantage of plug-in components from EdgeX’s growing vendor-neutral ecosystem,” said Jason Shepherd, EdgeX Foundry Governing Board Chair and Dell Technologies IoT and Edge Computing CTO. “This allows them to focus on innovation rather than reinvention, in addition to being able to add and exchange components at any time to optimize their solution throughout the development and deployment lifecycle.”

There will be two different kinds of dev kits – community and commercial. For options in the community track, the bill of materials will be purchased independently online, the code will be downloaded straight from a special repository on the project GitHub, and questions will be answered through forums like the EdgeX Rocket Chat. The first kit is based on the Samsung Artik with Grove sensor, and options will grow through community contributions over time.

The commercial track for the dev kits will provide EdgeX members with the ability to seed the emergence of an open marketplace for IoT edge computing. These kits will offer end users with attractive options to get started with professional support so they can focus on their preferred value-add rather than supporting open source code. Commercial options will include kits based on supported versions of the EdgeX framework itself (neutral to any plug-in value add), kits based on specific IoT platforms, and microservice plug-ins for value-add such as analytics, data orchestration and security.

EdgeX Foundry is debuting a new community demo at IoT Solutions World Congress that will highlight the platform’s ability to bring together heterogeneous solution components. This first community demo showcases how EdgeX can bring together a real-world, smart flexible office space environment based on components from a variety of vendors leveraging numerous connectivity standards, operating systems and hardware types.

The growth and diversity of the EdgeX ecosystem over the last year has helped the technical community hit major milestones including the “California” release, which made the switch to Golang for the baseline reference implementation. Since the release in April, EdgeX Foundry unique code contributions from members and non-members alike have more than doubled to 70 on a regular basis.

These contributors have played a major role in the upcoming “Delhi” release, which offers major enhancements including the first management features, more security functionality such as access control and improved security bootstrapping, C and Golang-based Device Service SDKs and a reference GUI for demos and simple deployments. Projected to launch in November, the Delhi code will be well-suited for end users to begin developing commercial offers and production deployments. To find more details about Delhi or the EdgeX roadmap, visit the wiki here.

Intel joins the EdgeX Ecosystem

“Today’s announcement represents one more step in Intel’s open source journey and increased role in the advocacy, use and contribution across the ecosystem,” said Stacey Shulman, chief innovation officer for Retail Solutions at Intel. “Intel’s involvement in EdgeX Foundry will help drive scale and accessibility of solutions for both our customers and businesses of all sizes.”

Other new EdgeX Foundry project members include Basking Automation GmbH, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT), DATA AHEAD, CertusNet, Redis Labs, the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG) /Embedded Lab, Windmill Enterprise and ZEDEDA.

“We’re standing at a critical point for digital transformation,” said Shepherd. “The massive volume of devices coming online represents a huge opportunity for innovation and is making edge computing a necessity. We need an open, cloud-native edge ecosystem enabled by EdgeX to minimize reinvention and facilitate building and deploying distributed, interoperable applications from the edge to the cloud. We’re thrilled to welcome these new member organizations into our already strong community that shares the same commitment to open collaboration and innovation.”

Defining Your IoT Terms Such As Edge and IT/OT Convergence

Defining Your IoT Terms Such As Edge and IT/OT Convergence

Defining terms enhances effectiveness of communication—especially in this new Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) space. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) leads the way bringing companies and people together to accomplish this sort of work.

I floated a definition of edge a little while ago and got an interesting reaction on Twitter. Let’s see how this one flies.

IIC announced V2.1 of the Industrial Internet Vocabulary Technical Report. Designed to reduce confusion in the marketplace, the report is a foundational document that provides a common set of definitions for IIoT terms used in all IIC documents. It is also intended as a reference for anyone working in IIoT, including those in IT, OT and vertical industries.

The report adds definitions for terms used in data management, edge and edge computing, IT/OT convergence, connectivity, interoperability, brownfield and greenfield.

“People from different backgrounds and different vertical industries will often use different terms to mean the same thing. Additionally, the industrial internet has core concepts that mean different things to different people,” said Anish Karmarkar, Co-Chair of the Vocabulary Task Group, and Senior Director, Standards Strategy & Architecture at Oracle. “Without an agreed upon vocabulary, there’s a lot of room for misunderstandings. For example, we’ve defined IT/OT convergence as a process of interweaving IT and OT in order to create IIoT systems. While IT/OT convergence is a hot topic today, not everyone is on the same page as to what it exactly means.”

The report provides definitions for data management, including data, data at rest, data in motion, data in use, data integrity and many others to make communication on this subject easier for IIoT stakeholders. The report also clears up confusion on “connectivity” and “interoperability,” which IIoT stakeholders often mix up. “Connectivity” means the ability of a system or app to communicate with other systems or apps via networks. “Interoperability” means the ability of two or more systems or apps to exchange and use that information.

“Edge and edge computing are hotly debated topics in IIoT this year,” said Marcellus Buchheit, one of the primary authors of the IIC IIoT Vocabulary Technical Report, and President & CEO, WIBU-SYSTEMS USA Inc. and Co-Founder, WIBU-SYSTEMS AG. “IIoT stakeholders in every industry have been asking ‘where is the edge,’ or ‘what is edge computing.’ The report defines the ‘edge’ as the boundary between pertinent digital and physical entities, delineated by IoT devices, and ‘edge computing’ as distributed computing that is performed near the edge, where the nearness is determined by the system requirements. At the moment, the IIC is the only consortia to provide definitions for ‘edge’ and ‘edge computing.’”

Read the IIC Journal of Innovation September 2017: Edge Computing to learn even more about edge computing. JOI articles show that by moving compute closer to data sources, edge computing allows for faster sense-analyze-response cycles, which is important for running mission-critical, real-time IIoT applications such as equipment monitoring or autonomous machinery.

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.

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