Industrial Internet Consortium Gaining Momentum With Partners and Testbed

Industrial Internet Consortium Gaining Momentum With Partners and Testbed

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has been incredibly active over the past month. While I’ve been traveling, news releases and interview opportunities have been pouring in.

In brief:

  • IIC and Avnu Alliance Liaison
  • IIC and the EdgeX Foundry Announce Liaison
  • IIC Develops Smart Factory Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance Testbed
  • IIC Publishes Edge Computing Edition of Journal of Innovation

Related:

See my white paper on OPC UA and TSN. I wrote this following interviews at Hannover for the OPC Foundation and subsequent travels to see people. I think this is a powerful combination for the future.

Why it’s important:

These news items when viewed collectively show momentum for what is happening with the Industrial Internet—or as some say the Industrial Internet of Things. These technologies are soon to be powerful business drivers for a new age of manufacturing.

The News:

Liaison with Avnu Alliance

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and Avnu Alliance (Avnu) have agreed to a liaison to work together to advance deployment and interoperability of devices with Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) open standards.

Under the agreement, the IIC and Avnu will work together to align efforts to maximize interoperability, portability, security and privacy for the industrial Internet. Joint activities between the IIC and the Avnu will include:

  • Identifying and sharing IIoT best practices
  • Realizing interoperability by harmonizing architecture and other elements
  • Collaborating on standardization

“Both Avnu and the IIC are well aligned to pursue the advancement of the IIoT. An example of this is Avnu’s participation in the IIC TSN testbed where members have an opportunity to try their equipment and software on the testbed infrastructure. This provides the participants with the ability to discover what’s working and what is not and provide feedback that helps speed market adoption,” said Gary Stuebing, IIC liaison to Avnu. “The lessons learned in our TSN testbed fuel the ability of both of our organizations. TSN could open up critical control applications such as robot control, drive control and vision systems.”

“Our liaison agreement and work with the IIC TSN Testbed demonstrates real-world applications and solutions with TSN and helps to accelerate readiness for the market. The testbed stands as a showcase for the value that TSN standards and ecosystem of manufacturing applications and products bring to the market, including the ability for IIoT to incorporate high-performance and latency-sensitive applications,” said Todd Walter, Avnu Alliance Industrial Segment Chair. “Our collaboration with IIC and the work coming out of the TSN Testbed is already having a direct impact on suppliers and manufacturers who see the technology as a value add for their system structure.”

Avnu and IIC are meeting for a TSN Testbed plugfest later this month to evaluate and trial TSN device conformance tests that are being developed as a baseline certification in the industrial market.

Avnu creates comprehensive certification tests and programs to ensure interoperability of networked devices. The foundational technology enables deterministic synchronized networking based on IEEE Audio Video Bridging (AVB) / Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) base standards. The Alliance, in conjunction with other complementary standards bodies and alliances, provides a united network foundation for use in professional AV, automotive, industrial control and consumer segments.

 

Agreement with EdgeX Foundry

The Industrial Internet Consortium and EdgeX Foundry, an open-source project building a common interoperability framework to facilitate an ecosystem for IoT edge computing, announced they have agreed to a liaison.

Under the agreement, the IIC and the EdgeX Foundry will work together to align efforts to maximize interoperability, portability, security and privacy for the industrial Internet.

Joint activities between the IIC and the EdgeX Foundry will include:

  • Identifying and sharing best practices
  • Collaborating on test beds and experimental projects
  • Working toward interoperability by harmonizing architecture and other elements
  • Collaborating on common elements
  • Periodically hosting joint seminars

“We are excited about working with EdgeX Foundry,” James Clardy, IIC liaison to EdgeX Foundry. “And we look forward to leveraging the experiences of the IIC to help further accelerate the adoption of the industrial Internet.”

“EdgeX Foundry’s primary goal is to simplify and accelerate Industrial IoT by delivering a unified edge computing platform supported by an ecosystem of solutions providers,” said Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT for The Linux Foundation. “Formalizing this liaison relationship with the IIC is fundamental to unlocking business value at scale. Together, we will provide better best practices that will drive the unification of the industrial IoT.”

Hosted by The Linux Foundation, EdgeX Foundry has an ecosystem of more than 60 vendors and offers all interested developers or companies the opportunity to collaborate on IoT solutions built using existing connectivity standards combined with their own proprietary innovations. For more information, visit

 

Smart Factory Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance Testbed

The Industrial Internet Consortium announced the Smart Factory Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance Testbed. The testbed is led by two companies, Plethora IIoT, a company, designing and developing cutting-edge answers for Industry 4.0, and Xilinx, the leading provider of All Programmable technology.

This innovative testbed explores machine-learning techniques and evaluates algorithmic approaches for time-critical predictive maintenance.  This knowledge leads to actionable insight enabling companies to move away from traditional preventative maintenance to predictive maintenance, which minimizes unplanned downtime and optimizes system operation.  This would ultimately help manufacturers increase availability, improve energy efficiency and extend the lifespan of high-volume CNC manufacturing production systems.

“Testbeds are the major focus and activity of the IIC and its members. We provide the opportunity for both small and large companies to collaborate and help solve problems that will drive the adoption of IoT applications in many industries”, said IIC Executive Director Dr. Richard Mark Soley. “The smart factory of the future will require advanced analytics, like those this testbed aims to provide, to identify system degradation before system failure. This type of machine learning and predictive maintenance could extend beyond the manufacturing floor to have a broader impact to other industrial applications.”

“Downtime costs some manufacturers as much as $22k per minute. Therefore, unexpected failures are one of the main players in maintenance costs because of their negative impact due to reactive and unplanned maintenance action. Being able to predict system degradation before failure has a strong positive impact on machine availability: increasing productivity and decreasing downtime, breakdowns and maintenance costs,” said Plethora IIoT Team Leader Javier Diaz.  “We’re excited to lead this testbed with Xilinx and work alongside some of the leading players in IIoT technologies. This is a unique opportunity to test together machine learning technologies with those involved in the testbed at different development levels starting from the lab through production environments, where a real deployment solution is utilized. As a result, from these experiences, we can significantly reduce the time-to-market of Plethora IIoT solutions oriented to maximize smart factory competitiveness.”

”Xilinx is committed to providing the Industrial IoT industry with our latest All Programmable SoC and MPSoC platforms – ideal for sensor fusion, real-time, high-performance processing, and machine learning from the edge to the cloud,” stated Dan Isaacs, Director of Corporate Strategic Marketing and Market Development for IIoT and Machine Learning at Xilinx. “The combination of these highly configurable capabilities drives the intelligence of the smart factory.”

Additional IIC member companies participating in this testbed are: Bosch, Microsoft, National Instruments, RTI, System View, GlobalSign, Aicas, Thingswise, Titanium Industrial Security, and iVeia. They provide technologies to enable the Smart Factory Machine Learning testbed, including:

  • Factory automation
  • OT and IT security
  • Edge to cloud machine learning and analytics
  • Time-sensitive networking (TSN)
  • Data acquisition
  • Smart sensor technology
  • Design implementation
  • Embedded programmable SoC technology
  • Secure authentication

 

Journal of Innovation

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has published the fifth edition of the Journal of Innovation with a focus on edge computing. The Journal of Innovation highlights the innovative ideas, approaches, products, and services emerging within the Industrial Internet, such as smart cities, artificial intelligence, the smart factory, and edge computing.

Edge computing promises to bring real-time intelligence to industrial machines at the edge of the network, where data can be processed closer to its source. Edge computing provides businesses with a cost-effective means to transmit and analyze large quantities of data in real-time, enabling them to reduce unplanned downtime, improve worker safety and enhance asset performance.

“The Journal of Innovation brings together innovators and thought leaders across the IoT spectrum. In this issue, our experts share their insights on edge computing as a key enabling technology poised to transform the IIoT,” said Mark Crawford, co-chair of the IIC Thought Leadership Task Group and Standards Strategist, SAP Strategic IP Initiatives. “Edge computing is not a new concept, but as IIoT transforms business processes, the need to use data closer to its source, whether that be from a wind turbine, a deep-water well’s blowout preventer, or an autonomous car, is paramount.”

The Edge Computing edition of the Journal of Innovation includes articles contributed by leaders at IIC member companies including:

  • Where is the Edge of the Edge of Industrial IoT? · Pieter van Schalkwyk XMPro
  • Device Ecosystem at the Edge – Manufacturing Scenario · Sujata Tilak, Ascent Intellimation Pvt. Ltd.
  • Edge Intelligence: The Central Cloud is Dead – Long Live the Edge Cloud · Yun Chao Hu, Huawei Technologies Duesseldorf GmbH
  • Outcomes, Insights, and Best Practices from IIC Testbeds: Microgrid Testbed · Brett Burger, National Instruments · Joseph Fontaine, Industrial Internet Consortium
  • A Knowledge Graph Driven Approach for Edge Analytics · Narendra Anand, Accenture Technology Labs · Colin Puri, Accenture Technology Labs
  • Industrial IoT Edge Architecture for Machine and Deep Learning · Chanchal Chatterjee, Teradata Inc. · Salim AbiEzzi, VMWare Inc.
  • A Practical and Theoretical Guide to Using the Industrial Internet Connectivity Framework · Stan Schneider, PhD. Real-Time Innovations, Inc. · Rajive Joshi, PhD. Real-Time Innovations, Inc.
Open Source IoT Platform EdgeX Foundry Adds Member

Open Source IoT Platform EdgeX Foundry Adds Member

Internet of Things platforms are all the rage these days. Seems like every company either has one or is building one. On the other hand, recent news about GE Digital’s Predix and discussions on LinkedIn have thrown a cautioning light on the efficacy of platforms.

When a technology supplier releases a platform the common thread is open connectivity to devices and closed, tightly integrated integration with the supplier’s products. Sometimes there is open connectivity with a variety of databases and analytics engines, but usually not.

A different take was begun by the Linux Foundation driven in the market by Dell Technologies. This take is open source and the drive has been to sign on as many technology companies as possible. Hence, today’s announcement. I have previously written about the EdgeX Foundry here and here.

EdgeX Foundry, an open source project building a common framework for Internet of Things (IoT) edge computing, announced Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. has joined as a Platinum member. Participating in EdgeX Foundry will support Samsung’s emerging efforts in the industrial sector while expanding the market of EdgeX compatible components and devices.

“The true potential of IoT will be realized with solutions that cross both the consumer and industrial sectors. As one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world, having seamless IoT across our business domains and factories would streamline operations and drive efficiencies, but interoperability is a major challenge,” said Kyeongwoon Lee, Senior Vice President at Samsung Electronics. “EdgeX Foundry delivers the interoperability, flexibility and scalability that businesses need to deploy Industrial IoT solutions without hesitation, and it will enable us to create lightweight edge solutions that can support real-time operations for our manufacturing infrastructures.” 

EdgeX Foundry is a project of The Linux Foundation that is building an open interoperability framework hosted within a full hardware- and OS-agnostic reference software platform to enable an ecosystem of plug-and-play 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 can quickly and easily deliver interoperability between connected devices, applications and services, across a wide range of use cases.

“Samsung is an active contributor in the open source community and has been a key driver behind IoT standardization supporting consumer devices and smart home technology,” said Philip DesAutels, PhD Senior Director of IoT at The Linux Foundation. “Their manufacturing experience combined with their expertise in consumer electronics, mobile devices and enterprise solutions will be essential to the development of the EdgeX Framework, and we are excited to welcome them into the community.”

EdgeX Foundry has rapidly grown to almost 60 members since its launch in April 2017 and is supported by an active community. More than 150 people from around the world joined EdgeX Foundry face-to-face meetings over the summer to align on project goals, develop working groups and discuss next steps for the project. EdgeX Foundry has also launched a series of technical training sessions called Tech Talks that are designed to help onboard new developers on to the project.

EdgeX Foundry Unifies the IoT Marketplace to Accelerate Enterprise IoT Deployments

EdgeX Foundry Unifies the IoT Marketplace to Accelerate Enterprise IoT Deployments

The Linux Foundation announced launch of EdgeX Foundry, an open source software project to build a common open framework for Internet of Things (IoT) edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components that will unify the marketplace and accelerate enterprise and Industrial IoT. The goal is the simplification and standardization of Industrial IoT edge computing, while still allowing the ecosystem to add significant value.

Looks like the big news is that Dell has joined and turned its Project Fuse set of IoT building blocks over to the open source project.

The press release, like most that deal with software, was long on buzz words and short on specifics that we all love to see. I have meetings this week in Hannover and expect to learn more. Watch for end-of-the-week updates.

Project Fuse? I did some research.

Back in December, 2015, Dell’s IoT director of strategy and partnerships Jason Shepherd told me that things were too complex trying to tie all the different ways to communicate through, for example, and IoT Gateway edge device. He also added these predictions for 2016. They seem to fit with the announcement.

  1. Enterprise will become the largest market for IoT adoption—While the Internet of Things hype reached its peak in the consumer markets this past year, 2016 will be the year of IoT in the enterprise market. Currently, we are seeing a slump in sales for the once buzzworthy, consumer IoT devices, such as fitness trackers, whereas just the opposite is happening for commercial IoT products. As companies begin understanding the value of IoT (return on investments, efficiency, productivity, etc.), commercial IoT solutions will gain traction and the enterprise will emerge as the largest market for IoT adoption.
  2. Standardization and interoperability of IoT technology will become a focal point—As IoT solutions become a mainstay for enterprises and consumers alike, the industry will face growing pressure for standardization and interoperability. As a result, an increasing number of industry players will begin uniting under the common goal of establishing a set of standards for IoT. These standards bodies and consortiums will make solid progress in 2016 but it is unlikely they will decide upon a finalized set of standards in the coming year. Rather, 2016 will be a year for critical industry-wide conversation that will help to drive the awareness of and need for standardization and interoperability.

Then I found this blog by Stacey Higginbotham, Dell plans an open source IoT stack, from last October.

I met with Jason Shepherd, director of IoT strategy and partnerships with Dell, who told me about its efforts to bring a modular set of building blocks to the industrial internet. It’s called Project Fuse, and Dell plans to make the effort open source.

Dell is working with 30 other “big name” companies that Shepherd didn’t name to create a layer of technologies that will sit between the many different messaging protocols used by today’s sensor networks and the cloud and analytics layer (see photo).

To me, this looks like it could cause problems for some of the middleware software vendors that currently do a lot of the heavy lifting for clients trying to integrate various systems, but Shepherd says some of them are on board because a platform like Project Fuse means they don’t have to build each client’s integration from scratch.

 

Leaders of this initiative believe there is too much fragmentation and the lack of a common IoT solution framework. This complexity hinders broad adoption and stalling market growth.

“Success in Internet of Things is dependent on having a healthy ecosystem that can deliver interoperability and drive digital transformation,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation. “EdgeX Foundry is aligning market leaders around a common framework, which will drive IoT adoption and enable businesses to focus on developing innovative use cases that impact the bottom line.”

Unifying the IoT Market

EdgeX Foundry is designed to unify the marketplace around a common open framework and build an ecosystem of companies offering interoperable plug-and-play components. “Designed to run on any hardware or operating system and with any combination of application environments, EdgeX can quickly and easily deliver interoperability between connected devices, applications, and services, across a wide range of use cases,” states the release. Interoperability between community-developed software will be maintained through a certification program.

Dell is seeding EdgeX Foundry with its FUSE source code base under Apache 2.0. The contribution consists of more than a dozen microservices and over 125,000 lines of code and was architected with feedback from hundreds of technology providers and end users to facilitate interoperability between existing connectivity standards and commercial value-add such as edge analytics, security, system management and services. This is complemented by the recent merger of the IoTX project into the EdgeX effort, which was previously supported by EdgeX Foundry members including Two Bulls and Beechwoods Software, among others. Additional supporting code contributions by EdgeX members are already underway.

“One of the key factors holding back IoT designs in the enterprise is that there are too many choices to safely and easily implement a system that will provide a return on investment in a reasonable timeframe,” said Mike Krell, Lead IoT Analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “EdgeX Foundry will fundamentally change the market dynamic by allowing enterprise IoT applications to choose from a myriad of best-in-class software, hardware and services providers based on their specific needs.”

Founding members include: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Alleantia, Analog Devices, Bayshore Networks, Beechwoods Software, Canonical, ClearBlade, CloudPlugs, Cloud of Things, Cumulocity, Davra Networks, Dell, Eigen Innovations, EpiSensor, FogHorn Systems, ForgeRock, Great Bay Software, IMS Evolve, IOTech, IoTium, KMC Controls, Kodaro, Linaro, MachineShop, Mobiliya, Mocana, Modius, NetFoundry, Neustar, Opto 22, relayr, RevTwo, RFMicron, Sight Machine, SoloInsight, Striim, Switch Automation, Two Bulls, V5 Systems, Vantiq and ZingBox. Industry affiliate members include: Cloud Foundry Foundation, EnOcean Alliance, Mainflux, Object Management Group, Project Haystack and ULE Alliance. 

“Businesses currently have to invest a lot of time and energy into developing their own edge computing solutions, before they can even deploy IoT solutions to address business challenges,” said Philip DesAutels, PhD Senior Director of IoT at The Linux Foundation and Executive Director of EdgeX Foundry. “EdgeX will foster an ecosystem of interoperable components from a variety of vendors, so that resources can be spent on driving business value instead of combining and integrating IoT components.”

Adopting an open source edge software platform benefits the entire IoT ecosystem:

  • End customers can deploy IoT edge solutions quickly and easily with the flexibility to dynamically adapt to changing business needs;
  • Hardware Manufacturers can scale faster with an interoperable partner ecosystem and more robust security and system management;
  • Independent Software Vendors can benefit from interoperability with 3rd party applications and hardware without reinventing connectivity;
  • Sensor/Device Makers can write an application-level device driver with a selected protocol once using the SDK and get pull from all solution providers;
  • System Integrators can get to market faster with plug-and-play ingredients combined with their own proprietary inventions.

The Linux Foundation will establish a governance and membership structure for EdgeX Foundry to nurture a vibrant technical community. A Governing Board will guide business decisions, marketing and ensure alignment between the technical communities and members. The technical steering committee will provide leadership on the code merge and guide the technical direction of the project.

“We think EdgeX Foundry is the key to accelerating the fragmented IoT market and are proud to have been a part of the effort from the beginning,” said Jason Shepherd, IoT Strategy and Partnerships, Dell. “We’re big believers in openness and choice, and this modular architecture is designed to help anyone easily build edge computing solutions with preferred hardware, software, standards and services while minimizing reinvention. EdgeX Foundry is not a new standard, rather a software platform to unify standards and edge applications.” 

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, the EdgeX enables developers to quickly create flexible IoT edge solutions that can easily adapt to changing business needs. To learn more, visit: www.edgexfoundry.org.

 

 

Industrial Internet Consortium Publishes the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture V 1.8

Industrial Internet Consortium Publishes the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture V 1.8

Committee co-chair Mark Crawford of the The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) told me yesterday that its Industrial Internet Reference Architecture is a living document. The committee revises frequently in order to stay current with rapidly moving technology and use cases.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the organization has published version 1.8 of the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA). This new version builds on version 1.7, originally published on June 17, 2015. The document is applicable both for systems architects and business leaders who wish to incorporate the Internet of Things into their corporate strategies.

The IIRA is a standards-based architectural template and methodology designed by a broad spectrum of IIC members, including system and software architects, business experts, and security experts, to assist IIoT system architects to design IIoT solution architectures consistently and to deploy interoperable IIoT systems. It is important to note that the IIRA itself is not a standard.

“The IIC is committed to delivering practical deliverables to the IIoT community that represent the latest thinking about IIoT,” said John Tuccillo, Senior Vice President of Global Industry and Government Affairs, Schneider Electric and IIC Steering Committee Chair. “The IIRA, like all IIC deliverables, is a living document. The IIRA and the now the IIRA v1.8 are the first steps toward an open, innovative and thriving technology development ecosystem across industrial sectors of the IoT.”

“We have already seen customers who are using the IIRA to define and deploy their IIoT systems,” said Dr. Tanja Rueckert, Executive Vice President, IoT and Digital Supply Chain at SAP SE and IIC Steering Committee Vice Chair.  “The IIRA and the other IIC deliverables provide significant value to IIC members as well as the broader IIoT and IoT communities.”

IIRA v1.8 Benefits

The IIoT core concepts and technologies addressed in the IIRA v1.8 are applicable to the depth and breadth of every small, medium and large enterprise in manufacturing, mining, transportation, energy, agriculture, healthcare, public infrastructure and virtually every other industry. In addition to IIoT system architects, the plain language of IIRA v1.8 and its emphasis on the value proposition and enablement of converging Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) enables business decision-makers, plant managers, and IT managers to better understand how to drive IIoT system development from a business perspective.

“It has been widely recognized that IIoT delivers value and transforms business. A main challenge for many enterprises now is how to get started,” said Shi-Wan Lin, CEO & Co-Founder, Thingswise, LLC and Co-Chair of the IIC Architecture Task Group. “The IIRA provides a framework to drive IIoT projects from a business viewpoint. This is valuable for enterprises to build IIoT systems that can deliver the expected business value.”

Technology vendors can use the IIRA concepts and methodologies to build interoperable system components that address the broadest possible market. System implementers can use the IIRA as a starting point to shorten system development by deploying reusable, commercially available, or open-source system building blocks to reduce project risk, associated costs, and time-to-market. Ultimately, the IIRA will help the IIoT community to realize an open, innovative IIoT ecosystem, thereby reducing the cost of design and operations.

“The value of the IIC is that it brings together a set of diverse, talented people with an extraordinary set of knowledge to develop innovative technology to solve corporate-level industrial challenges,” said Todd Edmunds, Global Manufacturing Solutions Architect – Internet of Things at Cisco Systems and Co-Chair of the IIC Edge Computing Task Group. “The IIRA accelerates the development of solutions to digitize business and realize IIoT’s true potential to transform industry.”

Journal of Innovation

Capping a busy week, the IIC has also published the Third Edition of the Journal of Innovation. A publication written by IIC members, the third edition of the Journal of Innovation is dedicated to the “Smart Factory,” and includes articles on designing, retrofitting, and applying IIoT technologies within the manufacturing industry.

“Manufacturers are challenged to make factories more efficient, safer and greener than ever before,” said Erik Walenza-Slabe, CEO, IoT One and Co-chair, IIC Smart Factory TG. “While no single organization can solve all the problems of the IIoT, the IIC is helping to revolutionize manufacturing through its many activities, including the innovations described in the third edition of the Journal of Innovation dedicated to the ‘Smart Factory.’”

New to this edition are two articles summarizing interviews with two IIC testbed leads, describing insights, outcomes and lessons learned. These articles highlight the innovations taking place in the Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) Testbed and the INFINITE Testbed.

“Testbeds are at the very core of what we do in IIC and we aim to feature testbeds in all of our future editions,” said Edy Liongosari, Chief Research Scientist of Accenture Labs and co-chair of the IIC Thought Leadership Task Group.

The Journal of Innovation includes the following articles authored by IIC member companies:

  • “Blurry Box Encryption Scheme and Why it Matters to Industrial IoT”
  • “Results, Insights and Best Practices from IIC Testbeds: Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) Testbed”
  • “Making Factories Smarter through Machine Learning”
  • “Driving Innovation in Product Design and Manufacturing using 3D Printing”
  • “Results, Insights and Best Practices from IIC Testbeds: INFINITE Testbed”
  • “Smart Factories and the Challenges of the Proximity Network”

Authors and interviewees within the third edition include Cisco, Cork Institute of Technology, Dell EMC Research Europe, Ikergune, IT Research Center, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Plethora IIoT, QualiCal, Synapse Wireless, System On Chip Engineering, Xilinx, Wibu-Systems.


PTC Delivers Year of Success in Its Internet of Things Business



PTC Delivers Year of Success in Its Internet of Things Business


PTC has had an interesting journey of moving from ERP to PLM to IoT through batches of acquisitions over the course of several years. When it announced a series of acquisitions including ThingWorx and Kepware (at premium prices from the looks of things) I had to wonder what was up.

Executives assured me that it was a comprehensive corporate plan for growth that included bringing the disparate elements of the company into a cohesive whole. I saw some things last year that told me it was on the right track. Then came this press release trumpeting 2016 results. Yes, PTC had a good year. And, yes Virginia, there is money to be made in IoT.

PTC expanded its year-over-year IoT bookings in 2016, added new customers and partners to its IoT ecosystem, enhanced its IoT technology portfolio, garnered industry recognition and validation, and substantially grew its IoT academic programs.

PTC ignited its IoT strategy in 2013 with the acquisition of ThingWorx, and, since that time, has developed one of the most robust IoT offerings in the market.

“When we embarked on our IoT journey, we didn’t set out to be a casual participant in this space. Instead, from day one, we committed ourselves to becoming the leading IoT platform company for the industrial market,” said Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO, PTC. “2016 was a banner year for PTC, as we further proved that our vision and offerings resonate with buyers around the world. As we enter 2017, many of the world’s largest, most successful companies are eager to work with us on new IoT projects.”


IoT Bookings Growth

PTC’s IoT business grew in calendar 2016, with total year-over-year bookings growth of 115%, including the contributions from Kepware and Vuforia, and organic bookings growth of 53%. PTC’s IoT business concluded calendar 2016 with revenue of approximately $100 million.

Key Customer and Partner Success

PTC continued to add to its expansive IoT customer base in 2016, surpassing 1,200 companies. Realizing that a vast ecosystem is needed to win in the era of the IoT, PTC has established a network of more than 250 partners that promote the company’s strategy and embrace its technology.

Fundamental to PTC’s growth was the selection of the ThingWorx platform by customers and partners of all sizes and specialties, including:

  • GE Digital – PTC and GE Digital furthered their strategic relationship, with the aim to better optimize the combination of the ThingWorx and Predix platforms with a “ThingWorx for Predix” solution for the industrial space, as demonstrated at GE’s Minds Machines 2016.
  • 
Vodafone – Vodafone Group selected the ThingWorx platform in order to build additional Vodafone IoT applications that it can extend to its global footprint of operating companies.
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) – PTC and HPE are collaborating to develop new IoT solutions for industrial use cases. PTC’s ThingWorx software and HPE’s Edgeline Converged Edge System and the HPE Aruba ClearPass network access and security policy software were demonstrated together at HPE Discover 2016.
  • 
VMware – VMware joined the PTC ThingWorx Ready partner program, with a goal of pairing the ThingWorx platform with its own IoT solutions to create new offerings.

Additionally, as part of its expanding partner network, PTC continued to focus on working with the world’s leading systems integrators and professional services companies, which can be a valuable channel for extending PTC’s ThingWorx platform to a wider network of customers. Approximately 100 systems integrators are now part of the PTC Partner Network, including Cognizant, Deloitte, Kalypso, INFOSYS, ITC Infotech, and Tech Mahindra. In 2016, systems integrators developed new IoT solutions based on ThingWorx, including solutions for smart manufacturing, fleet management, smart energy management, and connected care.

ThingWorx Technology Innovations

To maintain and expand the robust functionality of its core IoT technology, PTC announced several enhancements to the ThingWorx platform during 2016. Highlights include:

  • AR-Enhanced IoT – ThingWorx Studio (incorporating Vuforia technology) is the first enterprise augmented reality authoring tool of its kind, allowing companies to design, publish, and scale integrated AR and IoT experiences. Since mid-2016, 1,000 companies have piloted new augmented reality projects as part of the ThingWorx Studio Pilot Program.
  • 
Comprehensive Platform – PTC integrated its acquired Kepware industrial connectivity technology and ColdLight machine learning technology into the ThingWorx platform.
  • 
Flexible Cloud Options – PTC expanded cloud support for customers to now include leading device clouds.
  • Product Insights – ThingWorx Utilities offers tools to help companies provision and manage their connected assets, to remotely access and interact with those connected assets, and to model and trigger business process flows that integrate with enterprise IT and business systems.
  • Data Insights – PTC incorporated ThingWorx Analytics Builder as an interactive user interface, enabling users to create and manage advanced analytics models in ThingWorx-powered solutions.
  • IoT at the Edge – PTC introduced enhanced edge computing capabilities to ThingWorx, enabling more robust data collection and management from the site of a connected asset.

Widespread Industry Recognition

The ThingWorx technology enhancements throughout 2016 further elevated the positions of PTC and ThingWorx in the market, leading to third-party acknowledgement and validation. In its Forrester Wave report on IoT platforms, Forrester Research identified PTC as having the most complete IoT platform offering on the market. Research firms IoT Analytics and Experton Group identified PTC as the IoT platform provider market leader. To top it off, PTC was named Internet of Things Enablement Company of the Year by Compass Intelligence and Industrial IoT Company of the Year by the IoT Breakthrough organization.

Record Participation in Universities and Academic Settings

PTC has established a broad, IoT-focused academic program for students of all grades and levels, developed and implemented by the PTC Academic Program. Since the inception of the PTC IoT Academic Program, over 1,000 universities worldwide have registered. Many leading academic institutions, including 14 of the top 15 engineering colleges in the USA, have adopted the ThingWorx platform in the classroom. On average, a new university joined the PTC IoT Academic Program each day in 2016.

Also in 2016, PTC significantly increased the level of developer participation by delivering what is currently the highest rated IoT course on Udemy, the global online teaching and learning marketplace. The “Fundamentals of IoT Development with ThingWorx” course saw its student enrollment number eclipse 4,200 in just five months, while maintaining a 4.5/5 rating from those who have participated. Excerpts from student reviews of the course include: “This is one of the best online courses that I have ever seen,” and “This course is just what I needed to truly understand what IoT is about.”

“In 2016, PTC proved that it is more than just a force to be reckoned with in the IoT space. PTC solidified itself as one of the leading IoT companies, with an impressive combination of technology offerings through ThingWorx, considerable growth potential, and an expanding ecosystem of reputable customers and partners,” said Dan Shey, Managing Director and Vice President, ABI Research.

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