Embedded Computing News From Hannover Messe

Embedded Computing News From Hannover Messe

Amongst the cloud and manufacturing IT booths in Hannover was a sizable booth nestled in the middle housing Arm, the processor company. Here Ian Ferguson, Vice President, Ecosystem Development, met with me to discuss some of the latest embedded computing news.

Arm licenses chips which are optimized to the OS for customer companies to use and customize.

Its software business includes a device manager for small device apps for provisioning and connecting. It has also announced a bridge to IBM Watson.

Its software product, Embed, runs on ARM. Among the areas of focus is smart meters and tracking of small assets. Ferguson also mentioned smart buildings–especially lighting.

Security is a key focus working at the chip level to detect intrusions, “device health”.

News briefs:

• Rapid industry adoption of Mbed Platform with more than 300,000 developers (>30% growth over the past year) and 80 partners

• Arm expands integration with IBM Watson IoT, and partners with Cybertrust and GlobalSign to deliver BYOC (Bring-Your-Own-Certificate) flexible IoT security authentication

• Mbed drives IoT business value for logistics, utilities and smart cities as organizations shift to Industry 4.0

Help organizations take advantage of the opportunities offered by IoT data and combine this with their business data to create valuable business outcomes. However, in talking with these organizations, many feel that pursuing opportunities to achieve these business outcomes through IoT opens themselves up to more IT complexity and greater security concerns.

Security and complexity of integration are legitimate concerns that addressed with Arm Mbed Platform. This platform provides the necessary IoT building blocks including, connectivity, device management, security and provisioning with the support of a 300,000+ strong developer community that has grown more than 30% in the past year.

It’s also supported by a growing ecosystem of 80 contributing partners such as IBM, which is bridging the Mbed Cloud with IBM Watson IoT Platform. We’ve integrated Mbed Cloud with Cybertrust and GlobalSign to provide more flexible security authentication for IoT devices.

Mbed Cloud and Mbed Cloud On Premises were designed to provide device management, connectivity and provisioning that customers demand, supported across multiple public and private clouds, on-premises and hybrid environments.

IoT security should be easy to implement, not an inhibitor. The new integrations between Mbed Cloud and Cybertrust and GlobalSign enable customers to BYOC (Bring-Your-Own-Certificate) for flexible and secure IoT authentication, leveraging the public key infrastructure they already use. Security should also be built into development, which is why Arm is planning to make its free open-sourced development platform, Mbed OS, the first OS to support PSA-Compliant trusted boot, storage and opaque cryptography.

However, even when security is built-in, software updates are often needed to maintain a strong security posture, which is a challenge when there are millions of devices already deployed out in the field. Through an expanded integration with IBM Watson IoT Platform, its users can now manage, provision and update firmware over-the-air for their IoT devices through Mbed Cloud.

Embedded Computing News From Hannover Messe

Company Emerges from Stealth to Power Real-Time Apps at the Edge

The Internet of Things ecosystem is changing computing in almost a seismic shift. But like geology, it builds up over time and then the event happens before you know it.

We had centralized, on-site computing revolutionized by PCs. We networked PCs and wound up with centralized computing in the cloud. Demands from building the Internet of Things (or Industrial Internet of Things for us manufacturing and production geeks) expose the flaws of cloud computing. The next hot thing—edge.

Yesterday the CEO/co-founder of Zededa talked with me about the computing platform his company is building with no less a mission 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.

Some of what follows may sound familiar. I’ve talked with many companies doing a piece of what Zededa has laid out, but none are as audacious as this.

In brief, Zedeta…

  • Closes $3.06M in Seed Funding
  • Pioneering a secure, cloud-native approach to real-time edge applications at hyperscale for solutions ranging from self-driving cars to industrial robots
  • Built a team comprised of distinguished engineers from top tech companies in cloud, networking and open source to solve the edge computing puzzle and disrupt the status quo
  • Seed round was led by Wild West Capital; other investors include Almaz Capital, Barton Capital and Industry Veteran Ed Zander, former CEO of Motorola and former COO of Sun Microsystems

“Tomorrow’s edge computing environment that enables digital transformation will be distributed, autonomous and cooperative. The edge is complex and not only has to scale out securely, but simultaneously must become friendlier for app developers. That’s the problem we are solving at ZEDEDA,” stated ZEDEDA CEO and Co-Founder Said Ouissal. “It will require a drastic shift from today’s embedded computing mindset to a more secure-by-design, cloud-native approach that unlocks the power of millions of cloud app developers and allows them to digitize the physical world as billions of ‘things’ become smart and connected.”

ZEDEDA will use the funding for continued research and product development, investment in community open-source projects for edge computing as well as further investment in sales and marketing initiatives. ZEDEDA investors include Wild West Capital and Almaz Capital, whose funding was part of a broader group investors, some of whom also invested in IoT/edge companies Theatro and Sensity Systems (now Verizon).

In the coming wave of pervasive computing, real-time apps, cyber-physical systems and data services such as machine learning and analytics will become commonplace. ZEDEDA envisions an open ecosystem and a completely new technology stack that creates a service fabric essential to achieving the hyperscale that will be required in edge computing.

To realize that goal, ZEDEDA has pulled together a distinguished roster of industry veterans from legendary technology companies with expertise in areas of operating systems, virtualization, networking, security, blockchain, cloud and application platforms. This unique blend of skills combines with the team’s deep connections to core open-source projects and standardization bodies. The team’s work has directly contributed to software and system patents as well as industry standards used by billions of people around the world today.

“A new paradigm and massive innovation is needed to meet demand for IoT and edge computing,” said Kevin DeNuccio, Founder of Wild West Capital and ZEDEDA’s lead investor. “Massive shifts in technology, including the proliferation of IoT, paves the way for industry disruption, which large incumbents tend to inhibit. Disruption takes a combination of an entrepreneurial team with a very unique set of collective experience, groundbreaking ideas, and the ability to garner immediate traction with global industrial leaders, who can transform their business with machine learning and artificial intelligence delivered by the Edge connected IoT world. ZEDEDA is simply one of the most promising edge computing startups out there.”

“Operations Technology teams face major challenges when it comes to fully realizing the advantages of an IoT world. Their worlds are becoming massively connected systems dealing with virtualization, networking and security,” stated Christian Renaud, Research Director, IoT at 451 Research. “Our recent research shows that while OT teams have the application plans for leveraging IoT, the vast majority of organizations’ IT resources and capabilities are maxed out. This leaves open the question of how these edge applications and IoT will scale out without compromising security or taxing resources even further in the future.”

Ouissal told me, “Edge is the next big wave, bigger than cloud, simply because of the sheer size of the number of devices. The goal is ubiquitous compute where applications want to interact real-time. The problem with the cloud is that it’s centralized. This ecosystem is truly Cyberphysical—just like your Industry 4.0.”

The current IoT model of sending all data to the cloud for processing, won’t scale due to:

  • Bandwidth
  • Latency
  • Privacy issues

Three problems that the company is attacking:

1. Moving apps now running in the cloud to the edge

2. Edge-to-edge communication, key for autonomous systems, peer-to-peer

3. Security, cloud requires cyber security, but at the edge we must add physical security—someone could walk in and carry out an intelligent device

Ouissal often mentioned the need to rethink management of the edge. There exists a big difference between managing cloud and edge. Zedeta is tacking the variety of management challenges for updating and managing thousands to millions of embedded devices.

Solutions the team are developing include:

1. Security-built on platform, use keys, trusted, health check with every plug in, embedded virtualization

2. management-virtualization->can run multiple sessions on a device, eg robot motion on one session and analytics on another all on same embedded system, can scale this to millions of devices

3. Networking-monitor, watch lists, anomaly detection, analyze why, VPN architecture

This is all fascinating. I can’t wait to talk with competitors and potential competitors in a couple of weeks in Hannover and during some upcoming trips to get responses.

Whither Goest the Embedded PC Market?

Whither Goest the Embedded PC Market?

While I am trying to finish a longer post on my Dell EMC experience from last week and all my Hannover experience, I’ll follow up on a conversation I had last week with Dell EMC’s Kevin Terwilliger about the embedded PC market.

He has written a blog post from his visit to Embedded World in Germany. The Embedded Computing market always seemed a little strange to me. In part because huge VME and PCI (and CompactPCI) chassis computers were alongside SOC (what I think of as “embedded”) and other chip and board level computing.

Check out his blog. I posted a comment.

His observation:

After attending Embedded World last month in Germany it was clearer to me than ever before – the embedded PC industry is not dissimilar to the desktop PC industry 30 years ago. When Dell entered the PC market back in 1984 and in the years shortly following, there were 430 PC companies who were each trying to compete based on some level of unique customization they could offer. Dell turned all this upside down with their direct configure to order model.

Good point. I would just add (again, check his blog) that part of the consolidation was technology-driven. CPUs became much more powerful and memory became more plentiful and cheaper. This meant that the PC itself could do much more without add-on cards and peripherals. Customization became firmware and software driven. You could buy one box and make it what you wanted (to a degree).

Dell’s embedded offering could be a foreboding of such a change in the embedded market. What do you think?

Whither Goest the Embedded PC Market?

Dell Announces Internet of Things Partner Program

Internet of Things Dell

Dell, Fog IoT Alliance

I’ve been writing about Dell’s entrance into the manufacturing/industrial space since last October. It introduced its Internet of Things products, Edge Gateway, at Dell World. Recently its embedded computing line was announced. (Disclaimer: Dell is a client.) Several people wrote to me after that last announcement to say something like, “About time.”

Internet of Things Partners

Further expanding its efforts, Dell is launching the Dell IoT Solutions Partner Program for the advancement of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and solutions. The program builds an ecosystem of partners to help customers navigate the fragmented IoT landscape and identify the right technologies to develop their IoT solutions. Dell will offer participating partners access to its robust and reliable product portfolio, world-class support and increased opportunities for incremental business growth.

The program will combine a global, multi-tiered (Executive, Associate, Registered) network of experienced Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) with Dell’s broad portfolio of IoT assets, including purpose-built intelligent gateways, embedded PCs, security and manageability tools, data center and cloud infrastructure, and data integration and analytics software like Boomi and Statistica. These assets will help organizations develop, deploy and maintain leading-edge IoT solutions.

“Dell believes that opportunities increase when you help others win,” said Andy Rhodes, executive director, Commercial IoT Solutions, Dell. “We are passionate about collaborating with this strong group of companies and believe ISVs are critical in building the bridge between the exciting industry potential of IoT and profitable market reality.”

Dell works with Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) organizations to create a unifying IoT strategy for bridging their differing business approaches. The IoT Partner Program will include companies across a wide range of industries that further strengthen Dell’s expertise in areas such as industrial and building automation and transportation. It launches with more than 25 partners including GE, SAP, Software AG, Microsoft, OSIsoft and others, many of which are utilizing the Dell Edge Gateway 5000 Series to power their own IoT solutions. Dell also continues to build relationships with systems integrators (SIs) with vertical expertise and deployment scale.

Additional partners include Azeti, Blue Pillar, Datawatch, Eigen Innovations, Flowthings, Flutura, GE, Kepware, Lynx Software, Microsoft Azure, OSIsoft, Relayr, SAP, Software AG, and Thingworx.

Kepware’s Role

Dell Predictive Maintenance IoTCreating use case blueprints is one of the many ways Dell is working with partners to help customers speed up their Internet of Things projects and make sense of the vast ISV landscape. Dell, Kepware, and Software AG are collaborating to develop IoT enabled predictive maintenance models utilizing distributed analytics to address the industry’s biggest operational challenges, such as unplanned downtime, overall equipment effectiveness, maintenance cost and return on assets.

Specifically looking at Kepware’s role with the Partner Program and the Predictive Maintenance model, I had the opportunity to interview Eric Dellinger, Kepware’s IoT manager. We’ve met several times, most recently at the Industry of Things conference in San Diego last February. We caught up by phone this time.

Dellinger told me he had been talking with Dell for six or seven months about various partnership and collaboration opportunities. “One great benefit,” he said, “is getting access to hardware and being part of marketing initiatives. Another great thing with program has been ease of working with them. Sometimes companies hold you at more of an arm’s length. Dell is dealing in a more strategic manner. For example, our work with Dell on the predictive maintenance model where it outlines how to go to market. And it shows how various vendors can go together to create a solution. This is a really nice approach to collaborate on an initiative.”

There are other benefits to Dell’s approach such as sharing go-to-market strategies, leveraging training, and leveraging each other’s channel, continued Dellinger. “Then there is what it looks like to embed a solution in the IoT box. Maybe we can include ThingWorx (another PTC company) app development platform. Or we can go off-the-shelf with Software AG and SAP on a solution. This open program offers a way of thinking from customer’s perspective, bringing innovative solutions. There is less pushing products specifically and more on finding solutions.”

Part of joining the partner program is certifying products run on the platform. Dellinger said, “So on the certification process, we installed our product on the Dell IoT Gateway connecting to a Rockwell Automation PLC using the MQTT protocol to send data to the cloud and had it up and running in 10 minutes.

Whither Goest the Embedded PC Market?

GE Spins Off Embedded Computing Business

This is interesting news. I’ve noticed GE doing much reorganizing around the former automation businesses. I actually thought Bernie Anger was going off in a different direction–perhaps with the software group. Instead, he’s leading the embedded computing business (the old SBS and VMIC businesses, if you remember way back when) off on its own.

For some time, marketing in the old GE Fanuc, now GE Intelligent Platforms, business has become quite differentiated. They’ve tried some agencies for PR. But the software side (including the Cimplicity and Intellution businesses which “merged” into Proficy) are seemingly subsumed into the huge investment GE is making corporately in software–note the ads it is running on TV recently. I never know what to call the division, group, or name when I write about it.

Here is the press release regarding the divestiture.

Abaco Systems, an industry-leading supplier of sophisticated, open architecture electronic systems for aerospace, defense and industrial applications, today announced its separation from the General Electric Company (“GE”), opening a new chapter in the company’s history.

“This is a momentous day for Abaco Systems,” said Bernie Anger, president and CEO of Abaco Systems. “Today, we start the next stage in our company’s future – pursuing a strategy focused on satisfying the needs of customers looking for high-performance embedded technology and systems that can withstand the harshest of conditions.  I am very proud of our team who has prepared us for this day, and extremely thankful for the support that we have received from our customers during the transition process.”
“As an independent embedded technology and systems company,” continued Anger, “we see real opportunity to take our extensive experience, mission-critical technology and the repeatable business processes we have developed to continue building a business that combines a commitment to technical innovation with extreme focus on customer service. The company is positioned to benefit from long-term market trends, including shifts towards open architecture, interoperable systems, smarter purchasing initiatives and technological modernization.”
Customers have been notified of the change in ownership and have welcomed the news of the new Abaco Systems. Feedback from customers has been extremely positive:
“Thanks for letting us know about the GE transition to Abaco Systems,” said Rance  Myers, Director of Engineering at Honeywell Aerospace.   “We’re looking forward to the continued relationship and working with Abaco as we progress forward on new projects.”
“SNC is a long-time customer of the GE team and is very excited that they are moving to this new phase in their business,” said Greg Cox, Vice President, CNS at Sierra Nevada Corporation. “It demonstrates the strength of this cohesive team and we look forward to working with them in their new structure.”
Veritas Capital, a leading private equity firm that invests in companies that provide critical products and services to government and commercial customers worldwide, acquired Abaco Systems from GE.  One customer noted the strength of the Veritas reputation:
“My staff was particularly pleased that Veritas acquired GE’s embedded computing business, because Veritas apparently has such an ‘active’ interest in the GE products,” said Dr. Mark Gaertner, Manager, Bomber Programs, Northrop Grumman Corporation. “That’s good for NGC and the USAF, because we need stability in our products and suppliers for programs that stretch out over the next 25+ years.  We look forward to continuing our relationship.”
“The good news for our customers is that, from day one, it is business as usual,” concluded Anger. “They will continue to deal with the people they have always dealt with, re-energized by an opportunity to really make a difference.”

Abaco Systems is a global leader in open architecture computing and electronic systems for aerospace, defense and industrial applications. Spun out of General Electric in 2015, we deliver and support open modular solutions developed to upgrade and enhance the growing data, analytics, communications and sensor processing capabilities of our target applications. This, together with our 700+ professionals’ unwavering focus on our customers’ success, reduces program cost and risk, allows technology insertion with affordable readiness and enables platforms to successfully reach deployment sooner and with a lower total cost of ownership. With an active presence in a significant number of national asset platforms on land, sea and in the air, Abaco Systems is trusted where it matters most.