Navigating a New Industrial Infrastructure

Navigating a New Industrial Infrastructure

The Manufacturing Connection conceived in 2013 when I decided to go it alone in the world from the ideas of a new industrial infrastructure and enhanced connectivity. I even had worked out a cool mind map to figure it out.

Last week I was on vacation spending some time at the beach and reading and thinking catching up on some long neglected things. Next week I am off to Las Vegas for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise “Discover” conference where I’ll be inundated with learning about new ideas in infrastructure.

Meanwhile, I’ll share something I picked up from the Sloan Management Review (from MIT). This article was developed from a blog post by Jason Killmeyer, enterprise operations manager in the Government and Public Sector practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Brenna Sniderman, senior manager in Deloitte Services LP.

They approach things from a much higher level in the organization than I usually do. They recognize what I’ve often stated about business executives reading about all these new technologies, such as, cloud computing, internet of things, AI, blockchain, and others. “The potential resulting haste to adopt new technology and harness transformative change can lead organizations to treat these emerging technologies in the same manner as other, more traditional IT investments — as something explored in isolation and disconnected from the broader technological needs of the organization. In the end, those projects can eventually stall or be written off, leaving in their wake skepticism about the usefulness of emerging technologies.”

This analysis correctly identifies the organizational challenges when leaders read things or hear other executives at the Club talk about them.

The good news, according to the authors: “These new technologies are beginning to converge, and this convergence enables them to yield a much greater value. Moreover, once converged, these technologies form a new industrial infrastructure, transforming how and where organizations can operate and the ways in which they compete. Augmenting these trends is a third factor: the blending of the cyber and the physical into a connected ecosystem, which marks a major shift that could enable organizations to generate more information about their processes and drive more informed decisions.”

They identify three capabilities and three important technologies that make them possible:

Connect: Wi-Fi and other connectivity enablers. Wi-Fi and related technologies, such as low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN), allow for cable-free connection to the internet almost anywhere. Wi-Fi and other connectivity and communications technologies (such as 5G) and standards connect a wide range of devices, from laptops to IoT sensors, across locations and pave the way for the extension of a digital-physical layer across a broader range of physical locations. This proliferation of connectivity allows organizations to expand their connectivity to new markets and geographies more easily.

Store, analyze, and manage: cloud computing. The cloud has revolutionized how many organizations distribute critical storage and computing functions. Just as Wi-Fi can free users’ access to the internet across geographies, the cloud can free individuals and organizations from relying on nearby physical servers. The virtualization inherent in cloud, supplemented by closer-to-the-source edge computing, can serve as a key element of the next wave of technologies blending the digital and physical.

Exchange and transact: blockchain. If cloud allows for nonlocal storage and computing of data — and thus the addition or extraction of value via the leveraging of that data — blockchain supports the exchange of that value (typically via relevant metadata markers). As a mechanism for value or asset exchange that executes in both a virtualized and distributed environment, blockchain allows for the secure transacting of valuable data anywhere in the world a node or other transactor is located. Blockchain appears poised to become an industrial and commercial transaction fabric, uniting sensor data, stakeholders, and systems.

My final thought about infrastructure—they made it a nice round number, namely three. However, I’d add another piece especially to the IT hardware part. That would be the Edge. Right now it is all happening at the edge. I bet I will have a lot to say and tweet next week about that.

HPE Acquires Cray Consolidating Supercomputer Market

HPE Acquires Cray Consolidating Supercomputer Market

Today’s big enterprise IT news concerns Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Cray entering into a definitive agreement under which HPE will acquire Cray for $35.00 per share in cash, in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3 billion, net of cash.

This is another example of technology industry consolidation. We’re seeing it with instrumentation, control, and automation companies. Enterprise IT is rapidly going that way. Both HPE and Dell Technologies have been scarfing up companies either matured and not growing or in need of capital to survive.

Signs of maturing industries mean one kind of shock waves for employment within them. But also this usually means preparing room in the market for new companies with disruptive new technologies and business models. It’s possible that we’re about to see a leap in quantum computing out of all this.

What does this mean for industrial users? We are seeing already companies like HPE moving their powerful compute platforms to the edge. With every advancement, we’ll see additional compute power bringing databases, analytics, AI, video and other applications to more remote installations.

Some additional details from the press release:

“Answers to some of society’s most pressing challenges are buried in massive amounts of data,” said Antonio Neri, President and CEO, HPE. “Only by processing and analyzing this data will we be able to unlock the answers to critical challenges across medicine, climate change, space and more. Cray is a global technology leader in supercomputing and shares our deep commitment to innovation. By combining our world-class teams and technology, we will have the opportunity to drive the next generation of high performance computing and play an important part in advancing the way people live and work.”

The Explosion of Data is Driving Strong HPC Growth

The explosion of data from artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics and evolving customer needs for data-intensive workloads are driving a significant expansion in HPC.

Over the next three years the HPC segment of the market and associated storage and services is expected to grow from approximately $28 billion in 2018 to approximately $35 billion in 2021, a compound annual growth rate of approximately 9 percent. Exascale is a growing segment of overall HPC opportunities and more than $4 billion of Exascale opportunities are expected to be awarded over the next five years.

“This is an amazing opportunity to bring together Cray’s leading-edge technology and HPE’s wide reach and deep product portfolio, providing customers of all sizes with integrated solutions and unique supercomputing technology to address the full spectrum of their data-intensive needs,” said Peter Ungaro, President and CEO of Cray. “HPE and Cray share a commitment to customer-centric innovation and a vision to create the global leader for the future of high performance computing and AI. On behalf of the Cray Board of Directors, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that we believe maximizes value and are excited for the opportunities that this unique combination will create for both our employees and our customers.”

High performance computing is a key component of HPE’s vision and growth strategy and the company currently offers world-class HPC solutions, including HPE Apollo and SGI, to customers worldwide. This portfolio will be further strengthened by leveraging Cray’s foundational technologies and adding complementary solutions. The combined company will also reach a broader set of end markets, offering enterprise, academic and government customers a broad range of solutions and deep expertise to solve their most complex problems. Together, HPE and Cray will have enhanced opportunities for growth and the integrated platform, scale and resources to lead the Exascale era of high performance computing.

Navigating a New Industrial Infrastructure

HPE Unveils Converged Edge Systems To Bridge OT and IT

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced new HPE Edgeline Converged Edge System solutions that speed the deployment and simplify the management of edge applications, enabling customers to act on the vast amounts of data generated by machines, assets and sensors from edge to cloud.

I think this is another significant advance reflecting the utility of enterprise compute capability brought ever closer to the plant itself. If you are looking to be disruptive in your industry or are on a corporate engineering staff looking for OT alternatives, I’d suggest taking a long look at these technologies and then letting your imagination do its work.

The new solutions include:

  • HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform, an open platform that automates the interplay between diverse operational technologies (OT) and standard IT-based applications at the edge to enable intelligent and autonomous decision making;
  • HPE Edgeline systems management, the industry’s first systems management solutions designed specifically for the edge to ensure enterprise-grade reliability, connectivity and security;
  • HPE Edgeline EL300 Converged Edge System featuring OT link and HPE Edgeline systems management, providing superior resilience against harsh edge environments for a broad range of industrial deployments; and
  • HPE Edgeline Field Application Engineering Services are available from HPE Pointnext to help customers plan, build, and customize OT link-based Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems.

To turn edge data into insight for real-time action, it must be processed close to its source to avoid the latency, bandwidth, and cost issues of sending the data to a remote data center. However, this opportunity comes with a set of unique challenges, including management of remote infrastructure, and the necessity to seamlessly connect sensors and industrial assets with IT applications at the edge.

“Deploying IoT, edge, and cyber-physical systems is a challenge requiring a fresh look at uniting the physical and digital worlds,” said Dr. Tom Bradicich, Vice President and General Manager, Converged Servers, Edge and IoT Systems, HPE. “With today’s announcements, we enable our customers to accelerate the delivery of applications that capitalize on edge data, safeguarded by enterprise-class management. And we lay the groundwork for a new ecosystem of intelligent edge solutions to drive innovation and growth across industries.”

Simplifying deployment of edge-to-cloud IoT and cyber-physical systems

Today, setting up an IoT or cyber-physical system is a laborious undertaking. It requires custom coding to orchestrate OT networks, control systems, and data flows with drivers, middleware, and applications running on IT systems. HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform is an open platform that significantly simplifies this process, reducing cost and time to market.

The solution includes:

HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform software, an open workflow engine and application catalogue, allowing customers to orchestrate components, data, and applications via a graphical drag-and-drop user interface. The HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform integrates an ecosystem of third-party applications running from edge to cloud – including AWS, Google, Microsoft, SAP, PTC, GE, and more – to make insights from the edge available across the enterprise and supply chain.

HPE Edgeline OT Link certified modules, HPE-developed adapters that connect to a broad range of OT systems, enabling bi-directional, time-sensitive, and deterministic control and communication, including high-speed digital input/output, CAN bus, Modbus, or Profinet. APIs and SDKs for these adapters are made available to the industry to facilitate third-party designs of OT link modules. OT link will also integrate FPGA modules to give customers maximal flexibility to connect to any industrial input/output device.

Enterprise-grade manageability and security at the edge

HPE also announced the industry’s first systems management solutions specifically designed to simplify the provisioning and management of edge infrastructure and applications, providing enterprise-grade manageability and security for remote systems with limited connectivity and IT expertise.

HPE Edgeline Integrated System Manager is embedded into HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems and features one-click provisioning, ongoing system health management, remote updates, and management even with intermittent wired and wireless connections. It also supports advanced security functions like preventing system boot file changes and remote system disablement during a security event. HPE Edgeline Infrastructure Manager software can remotely manage thousands of Edgeline Converged Edge Systems.

The HPE Edgeline Workload Orchestrator hosts a central repository for containerized analytics, AI, business, and IoT applications that can be pushed to HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems at the edge

Unparalleled convergence of OT and IT

The HPE Edgeline EL300 is a fan-less, low-energy system equipped with Intel Core i5 processors, up to 32GB of memory and 3TB of storage. It will also support Intel Movidius Myriad X vision processing units to enable video analytics and AI inference at the edge. The HPE Edgeline EL300 provides enhanced resiliency against shock, vibration, humidity, and dust, including IP50 and MIL-SPEC certifications, and can operate from -30 to +70 degrees Celsius. These features make the HPE Edgeline EL300 suitable to be deployed as an embedded system – for example, in production machines or in building infrastructure.

Expertise to accelerate deployment and create competitive advantage

To support these new offerings, HPE Pointnext, the services organization of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, provides HPE Edgeline Field Application Services, which help customers plan, design, build, and run IoT, edge and cyber-physical systems to accelerate deployment and ensure reliable and secure operation. These services include the evaluation of use cases, proof of value, solution deployment, and management of ongoing operations – helping customers get the most from OT/IT integrations.

Moreover, HPE Pointnext can help customers develop their own data acquisition, industrial network, and control components for HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform to create custom solutions and competitive advantage. HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform based solutions can be delivered on-premises with a turnkey deployment service, operated by HPE Pointnext.

Finally, HPE Edgeline EL300 Converged Edge System will be added to HPE GreenLake Flex Capacity, to deliver a consumption-based experience with usage-based payment, capacity metering, and tailored support, for customers who need a cloud-like experience for systems at the edge.

Navigating a New Industrial Infrastructure

Industrial Automation and Information Technology

Last week was where industrial automation and information technology met along with my vice–soccer.

Emerson Automation Solutions–Digital Transformation, IT/OT collaboration, corporate acquisitions (GE Intelligent Platforms, once known as GE Fanuc, joins the fold), WirelessHART applications expand, flow control data becomes an integral part of digital transformation.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)–Refinery of the Future tour of the Texmark refinery that I’ve written about before and CenterPoint Energy where digital boosts the electrical utility industry.

Marketers may still talk of IT/OT convergence as something coming. In many forward thinking plants it is here. Texmark CEO Doug Smith talks freely about the kick in the pants delivered by his insurance carrier that propelled him and his team toward finding innovative solutions to operations challenges.

I sometimes joke that “I’m the point of convergence of IT and OT”, or at least my blog and writing are.

Don’t believe hype or nay-sayers. The collaboration is real–among suppliers, partner ecosystems, managers, engineers. And real benefits are accruing.

Have you joined the 21st Century?

Navigating a New Industrial Infrastructure

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.