Advantech Morphs Strategy for Internet of Things Development

Advantech Morphs Strategy for Internet of Things Development

Taiwan-based Advantech’s leaders have always been intellectual strategic thinkers. They have clued me in on several good management books. The company is an industrial computer company with industrial data acquisition and I/O devices that has successfully positioned itself as an edge device leader in the Internet of Things space.

The company has announced its strategies for entering the next phase of IoT development. To expand local operations, Advantech will fully activate the deployment of branch locations throughout various regions. In addition, a co-creation model will be adopted to construct the Industrial IoT (IIoT) ecosystem and strengthen the influence of vertical domains.

Advantech’s Executive Director of the Board, Chaney Ho, stated that since taking over as executive director last year, he has been focusing on developing regional strategies and establishing development goals and directions for each region, all of which are based on their scope.

In regions with a larger scope (Europe, United States, and China), to reinforce the Advantech brand recognition in IoT and Industry 4.0, talent cultivation and an increased presence in local sales are the company’s primary goals to actively respond to recent developments in Industry 4.0 trends in the EU, plans by the U.S. government to shift production back to America, and the China One Belt One Road policy.

For medium and small-scale regions, Mr. Ho stated that Advantech will develop Japan, South Korea, India, and Russia to generate $130 million in revenue. The company also plans to further increase investment in Malaysia and Thai IIoT organizations and new branch locations in Vietnam, Russia, and Turkey will be established through mergers and acquisitions as well as joint ventures.

Regarding developments in the European region, Miller Chang, President of Advantech’s Embedded-IoT (EIoT) Group, expressed that a sector-lead strategy has been practiced by the EIoT group since 2014. Various product divisions from headquarters have been fully connected with overseas frontline business teams and compound annual growth rate from 2014 to 2017 has reached 25%.

Key development points for the next three years in Europe are:

1. Elevating operation levels in five key regions, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.
2. Establishing branch offices in emerging European regions for conducting business and providing technical support.
3. Focusing on key industries, such as gaming, medical, transportation, and automotive, in Germany, UK, and the Netherlands.

With respect to development in the Greater China Region, Linda Tsai, President of Advantech’s IIoT Group, believes that the embedded systems/hardware from Phase I IOT development as well as IoT solutions platforms from Phase II are Advantech’s “double-growth engine” in IIoT development. Following this, three key strategies have been proposed.

1. Implement and IIoT sector-lead organizational development model expanding industry management and optimize regional resource allocations,
2. Set successful examples in the Greater China Region to accelerate the marketing of hardware/software and imaging solutions.
3. Actively cultivate local personal to become mid-to-high level supervisors to expand into the Chinese market.

Fantine Lee, Manager of Advantech’s Corporate Investment Division, pointed out that Advantech will continue to actively promote platform management during Phase II IoT development, SRP co-creation, and the co-created digital transformation of vertical industry cloud services during Phase III through the co-creation model. As for vertical industry, cloud service companies to be co-created during Phase III, Advantech plans to establish subsidiaries in Taiwan and China and will include domains such as Smart Manufacturing, Smart Environmental Protection, and Smart Retail. These companies will be managed together with Advantech’s co-creation partners. Furthermore, opportunities in other domains, such as Smart Hospitals, Smart Factories, Industrial Vision Systems, Consultant Training, and Integration Services will continue to be promoted and co-created.

Miss Lee further stated for Phase II development, Advantech’s WISE-PaaS cloud platform will serve as the foundation for building a comprehensive value chain for SRPs. This year, third-party software and WISE-PaaS platform integration with SaaS suppliers and collective sales/agents will be introduced at an accelerated pace. In addition, partnerships with software developers specializing in monitoring and diagnosing connected equipment, energy management, data analysis, machine learning, and other vertical industries will be established.

Internet of Things Prominent at Dell Technologies World

Internet of Things Prominent at Dell Technologies World

A few of us gathered for a round table discussion of Internet of Things while I was at Dell Technologies World at the beginning of the month. I arrived a little early and had a private round table for several minutes before others arrive and the discussion became broader.

Ray O’Farrell, CTO of VMware and GM of IoT at Dell Technologies, said the focus of last 6 months since the new Internet of Things organization was announced included these three points:

1. Dell is 7 companies, trying to achieve one cohesive strategy across all; one organization when facing customers.

2. Best way is to work within the ecosystem, that is history of VMWare.

3. Building technology and leverage solutions. This is a complex undertaking as not all challenges within IoT are alike—there are few cookie cutter applications.

The evolution of Internet of Things within Dell to Dell EMC to Dell Technologies constitutes an upward spiraling path encompassing the greater breadth of technologies and organization reflecting the post-merger company. When I first came along, the concept was building an ecosystem around selling an edge device appliance. Now the strategy is much broader bringing the goal of IT/OT convergence closer to reality. As I’ve mentioned before, the IT companies are attacking that convergence from the IT side after years of manufacturing/production oriented suppliers trying to accomplish the same thing from the OT side. Maybe like the old country song we’ll meet in the middle someday.

Everyone talks Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days, and Dell Technologies is not exception. However, AI is not the science fiction doom and gloom predicted by Ray Kurzweil, Elon Musk, and others. Mostly it entails machine learning (ML) from detected patterns in the data.

Or as Dell Technologies says, it is applying AI and ML technology to turn data into intelligent insights, drive a faster time to market, and achieve better business outcomes.

News summary

• Dell EMC PowerEdge expands portfolio to accelerate AI-driven workloads, analytics, deployment and efficiency

• Deepens relationship with Intel to advance AI community innovation, machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) capabilities with Dell EMC Ready Solutions

• Dell Precision Optimizer 5.0 now enhanced with machine learning algorithms, intelligently tunes the speed and productivity of Dell Precision workstations.

• Dell EMC uses AI, ML and DL to transform support and deployment

14th generation Dell EMC PowerEdge four-socket servers and Dell Precision Optimizer 5.0 are designed to further strengthen AI and ML capabilities.

According to the recently released update of the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) 2018 IT Transformation Maturity Curve Index, commissioned by Dell EMC, transformed companies are 18X more likely to make better and faster data-driven decisions than their competition. Additionally, transformed companies are 22X as likely to be ahead of the competition with new products and services to market.

“The Internet of Things is driving an onslaught of data and compute at the edge, requiring organizations to embrace an end-to-end IT infrastructure strategy that can effectively, efficiently and quickly mine all that data into business intelligence gold,” said Jeff Clarke, vice chairman, Products & Operations, Dell. “This is where the power of AI and machine learning becomes real – when organizations can deliver better products, services, solutions and experiences based on data-driven decisions.”

Unlike competitors’ four-socket offerings, these servers also support field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs)3, which excel on data-intensive computations. Both servers feature OpenManage Enterprise to monitor and manage the IT infrastructure, as well as agent-free Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) for automated, efficient management to improve productivity.

Dell EMC is also announcing its next generation PowerMax storage solution, built with a machine learning engine which makes autonomous storage a reality.

Leveraging predictive analytics and pattern recognition, a single PowerMax system analyzes and forecasts 40 million data sets in real-time per array4, driving six billion decisions per day5 to automatically maximize efficiency and performance of mixed data storage workloads.

The new Dell Precision Optimizer 5.0 uses AI to automatically adjust applications running on Dell Precision workstations to maximize performance by:

• Custom-optimizing applications: Dell Precision Optimizer learns each application’s behavior in the background and uses that data to employ a trained machine learning model that will automatically adjust the system to optimized settings and deliver up to 394% improvement in application performance.

• Automating systems configuration adjustments: Once activated and a supported application is launched, the software automatically adjusts system configurations such as CPU, memory, storage, graphics and operating system settings.

Speaking of partners and collaboration, Dell Technologies and Microsoft join forces to build secure, intelligent edge-to-cloud solution featuring Dell Edge Gateways, VMware Pulse IoT Center, and Microsoft Azure IoT Edge

News summary

• Joint IoT solution helps simplify management, enhances security and help lowers cost of deployment at the edge

• Built on innovative analytics applications, management tools and edge gateways to enable network security from edge devices to the cloud

• Accelerates IoT adoption in industry verticals key to economic growth and development

The joint solution offers an underlying IoT infrastructure, management capabilities, and security for customers looking to deploy IoT for scenarios like predictive maintenance, supply chain visibility and other use cases. The solution will deliver:

• Intelligence at the edge with Microsoft Azure IoT Edge: This application extends cloud intelligence to edge devices so that devices can act locally and leverage the cloud for global coordination and machine learning at scale

• Management and monitoring of edge devices with VMware Pulse IoT Center: This provides more secure, enterprise-grade management and monitoring of diverse, certified edge devices including gateways and connected IoT devices, bios and operating systems.  This ecosystem will be built over time involving deeper integration and certification to support customer requirements.

• High-performance, rugged Dell Edge Gateways: IoT devices with powerful dual-core Intel® Atom™ processors connect a variety of wired and wireless devices and systems to aggregate and analyze inputs and send relevant data to the cloud

VMware Pulse IoT Center will serve as the management glue between the hardware (Dell Edge Gateways or other certified edge systems), connected sensors and devices and the Microsoft Azure IoT Edge. Initially, Pulse will help to deploy the Microsoft Azure IoT Edge to the requisite edge systems so that it can start collecting, analyzing and acting on data in real-time.

Hannover Messe Finds Itself in the Cloud

Hannover Messe Finds Itself in the Cloud

Walking through one of the Halls at the Hannover Messe, you suddenly find yourself in the Cloud—computing that is. There was Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. The Manufacturing IT section just keeps growing. And getting more interesting.

One interesting aspect—I’m beginning to see articles speculating on the “end of Cloud computing.” Wonder what could come next?

Meanwhile, here is one piece of Cloud news I picked up. Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon company, announced the general availability of AWS IoT Analytics, a fully-managed service that makes it easy to run simple and sophisticated analytics on massive volumes of data from IoT devices and sensors, empowering customers to uncover insights that lead to more accurate decisions for their IoT and machine learning applications.

AWS IoT Analytics collects, pre-processes, enriches, stores, and analyzes IoT device data at scale so companies can easily identify things like the average distance traveled for a fleet of connected vehicles, or how many doors are locked after work hours in a smart building, or assess the performance of devices over time to predict maintenance issues and better react to changing environmental conditions. With AWS IoT Analytics, customers don’t have to worry about all the cost and complexity typically required to build their own IoT analytics platform. AWS IoT Analytics is available today in the US East-1 (N. Virginia), US East-2 (Ohio), US West (Oregon), and EU (Ireland) regions, with support for additional regions coming soon.

“AWS IoT Analytics is the easiest way to run analytics on IoT data. Now, customers can act on the large volumes of IoT data generated by their connected devices with powerful analytics capabilities ranging from simple queries to sophisticated machine learning models that are specifically designed for IoT,” said Dirk Didascalou, VP, IoT, AWS. “As the scale of IoT applications continues to grow at a rapid rate, AWS IoT Analytics is designed to provide the best tools for our customers to mine their raw data, gaining insights that lead to intelligent actions.”

AWS IoT Analytics also has features like a built-in SQL query engine to answer specific business questions and more sophisticated analytics, enabling customers to understand the performance of devices, predict device failure, and perform time-series analysis. Also, AWS IoT Analytics offers access to machine learning tools with hosted Jupyter Notebooks through seamless integration with Amazon SageMaker. Customers can directly connect their IoT data to a Jupyter Notebook and build, train, and execute models at any scale right from the AWS IoT Analytics console without having to manage any of the underlying infrastructure.

Using AWS IoT Analytics, customers can apply machine learning algorithms to device data to produce a health score for each device in a fleet, prevent fraud and cyber intrusion by detecting anomalies on IoT devices, predict device failures, segment fleets of devices, and identify other rare events that may have great significance but are hard to find without analytics. And, by using Amazon QuickSight, a fast, cloud-powered business analytics service, in conjunction with AWS IoT Analytics, it is easy for customers to surface insights in easy-to-build visualizations and dashboards.

AWS IoT Analytics can accept data from any source, including external sources using an ingestion API, and integrates fully with AWS IoT Core. Launched in 2015, AWS IoT Core is a managed cloud platform that lets connected devices easily and securely interact with cloud applications and other devices. AWS IoT Analytics also stores the data for analysis, while providing customers the ability to set data retention policies.

Modjoul, Georgia Pacific, Teralytic, Siemens, OSIsoft, Pentair, 47Lining, Domo, NetFoundry, and Laird Technologies are just a few of the customers and Amazon Partner Network members using AWS IoT Analytics to uncover valuable insights within their data and use those findings to innovate across their specialized businesses.

Modjoul is a data invention company for wearable technology that is focused on keeping employees safe. “Our mission is to keep industrial workers safe, whether they’re working in or out of a vehicle,” said Eric Martinez, CEO and Founder, Modjoul. “In an eight-hour shift, we collect data 28,800 times per day from our connected activity tracker worn by each of our employees that includes 40 metrics including heart rate and activity level. With AWS IoT Analytics, we not only analyze all that health data, but also enrich it with location and environmental data, such as outdoor temperature, to get accurate analytics that prevent injuries and save lives. Today, we’re operating better and faster.”

Georgia Pacific is one of the world’s leading makers of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products, and related chemicals. “At Georgia Pacific, our industry-leading dispensers allow us to deliver solutions to customers, not just sell products,” said Erik Cordsen, IoT Program Architect and Product Leader, Georgia-Pacific. “Now we are focused on making our dispensers ‘smart’ by adding sensors and connectivity that allow us to improve customer experience by providing real-time information about product levels and other statistics. With thousands of endpoints continuously feeding in data, we are using AWS IoT Analytics to enrich messages with location and product metadata in order to calculate platform health and value to our customers. AWS lets my team focus on solving the business problem instead of wrestling with technology.”

Teralytic is a soil health company focused on improving farmer’s yield by monitoring and improving the condition of their soils. “We have a network of soil-sensing IoT devices embedded in the soil from which data are collected, fed, and analyzed for us to understand the health of our customers’ agricultural ecosystems,” said Dan Casson, Vice President of Engineering, Teralytic. “We chose AWS IoT Analytics for its ability to filter outlier readings from our calculations and proactively detect issues as they arise so we can resolve them faster. In some cases, we’re able to identify and prevent issues before they occur. With AWS IoT Analytics, we use Machine Learning models to help detect situations where nutrients in the soil are at risk of leeching into ground water or runoff into surface water so the farmer can adjust the watering schedule, if needed. In addition to the environmental benefits, these machine learning models can help reduce a farmer’s costs as well as potentially increasing their yield.”

47Lining develops big data solutions and delivers big data managed services — built from underlying AWS building blocks like Amazon Redshift, Kinesis, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and Amazon DynamoDB — to help customers manage their data across a variety of verticals including energy, life sciences, gaming, and financial services. “Because AWS IoT Analytics is designed around time-series data, it’s a great fit for our customers in industrial, energy, and oil & gas, who seek real-time decision support and process optimization,” said Mick Bass, Senior Vice President, Big Data Practice, 47Lining.

Domo is a computer software company that specializes in business intelligence tools and data visualization. “Since our inception in 2010, AWS has been a trusted service provider that keeps up with the demands of our dynamic business,” said Jay Heglar, Chief Strategy Officer, Domo. “We extended our relationship with AWS to IoT Analytics because we wanted a flexible option to enable faster access to machine-generated data for our customers. Through our proprietary connector to AWS IoT Analytics, we are ensuring our customers have access to one of the most innovative solutions, allowing them to leverage machine-generated data at scale.”

Laird Technologies designs, develops, manufactures, and supports wireless systems solutions and performance materials for wireless and other advanced electronics applications. “By combining our long range wireless sensor and gateway products with AWS IoT, our customers have been able to quickly and securely get data from their devices into the cloud,” said Paul Elvikis, Business Development Director for Industrial, Laird Technologies. “Unfortunately, they would often get overwhelmed with the amount of sensor data that would start coming in. Customers would struggle to figure out how to do anything with it. AWS IoT Analytics has been a great help in extending our capabilities to solve that issue for our customers.”

NetFoundry gives its customers and their applications control of their networks without any telco, hardware, or private circuit constraints. “The capabilities of AWS IoT Analytics in enabling the transformation of vast amounts of data into actionable information, without the high costs and steep learning curve of other IoT platforms, enables NetFoundry’s IoT customers to get the ROI they need,” said Michael Kochanik, Co-founder and Global Head of Channel Revenue, NetFoundry.“With AWS IoT Analytics, we can integrate IoT networking capabilities to provide our IoT customers with ‘one-stop shopping’ including data collection, networking, analysis, transformations, storage and visualization. Partnering with AWS enables our customers to get integrated, end-to-end agility, security, performance and cost efficiency at scale.”

AWS offers over 125 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management from 54 Availability Zones (AZs) within 18 geographic regions and one Local Region around the world, spanning the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and the UK.

Perhaps a Case for IT and OT Convergence

Perhaps a Case for IT and OT Convergence

Ever wonder about the need for the elusive IT/OT convergence? Rockwell Automation announces Factory Talk Network Manager software for its Stratix line of managed (Ethernet) switches. Rockwell OEMs switches from Cisco built to its specifications. Cisco builds good equipment, but it is famous in the networking world for somewhat, shall we say, complex management software.

Control engineers and plant-floor technicians who have growing Ethernet networks to connect all this Internet of Things stuff need something that is closer to their language.

By the way, I still have plenty of catching up to do with things I learned both at Hannover (where I spent many hours with Hewlett Packard Enterprise) and the following week at Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas. I’m finally home and getting organized.

This new management software enables engineers and technicians to monitor the health of their Allen-Bradley Stratix managed switches, troubleshoot switch issues, and quickly configure new managed switches all from one easy-to-use software interface.

“Many plant-floor personnel struggle to piece together information about managed switches and devices from different sources,” said Lorenzo Majewski, product manager, Rockwell Automation. “With the FactoryTalk Network Manager software, they can access this information in one collective spot. In addition, real-time alarms and events from network switches can help them conduct faster, more precise troubleshooting.”

FactoryTalk Network Manager software automatically discovers assets, their associated IP addresses, and creates a topology of these connected devices. The software’s intuitive interface offers grouping of equipment along with dashboard information, so users can organize devices into specific areas or analyze them individually.

The software also uses user-created configuration templates to get new switches up and running faster and more efficiently. These templates can be shared across an organization, or with OEMs and system integrators to further ease network deployments, commissions and maintenance efforts.

The FactoryTalk Network Manager software provides role-based access control with auditing capabilities to help track user-specific activities and changes. The software supports multiple protocols, including Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Common Industrial Protocol (CIP), Modbus, BACnet and PROFINET. Access to the web-based platform is available via a personal computer in a control room or a mobile device on the plant floor.

Internet of Things Update from Dell Technologies World

Internet of Things Update from Dell Technologies World

Last week it was Hannover Germany in pursuit of the elusive Internet of Things (IoT) where the weather had been in the 70s until I arrived. This week, still in pursuit of the elusive IoT, I’m in a chilly and wet Las Vegas at Dell Technologies World where I’ve talked IoT for some three years.

For two years, Michael Dell featured IoT in his keynote. Last year, he brought VP Andy Rhodes on stage for a highlight. Rhodes has since moved on to another group, the GM of IoT is also the CTO of VMware indirectly reporting to the President of OEM and Global Channel (and IoT). So on the one hand IoT has been elevated in the organization twice in a year. On the other hand, there seems to be less glitter.

Meanwhile this year, Dell brought up IoT in the context of data. Data being in the service of Digital Transformation. In fact, Dell said, “Dell Technologies is in a unique position to integrate innovation for Digital Transformation.” He noted that companies can use data to improve products and services which in turn attracts more customers which generates more data which is analyzed and so the process goes.

However since IoT generates data and date attracts attacks, security is an essential element of the system. Interestingly, I met with Zulfikar Ramzan who is CTO of RSA, the Dell security company who talked in terms of recognizing and managing risk. Making risk visible and using analytics are key strategies.

There were also two briefings with the Unstructured Data Group. So much of our industrial data is in historian databases. But the growth of Websites and IoT has generated unstructured data that must be stored, retrieved, analyzed, and used in order to support business

Trends for IoT within Dell Technologies? After conversations with CTO and GM Ray O’Farrell and my longtime contact Jason Shepherd, I’d say the big thing is that IoT has grown from being a small division—almost a skunk works sort of thing building a product and solution infrastructure to becoming part of the DNA across all Dell Technologies companies. Therefore the fruit of moving the locus of leadership higher in the organization and placed with people that can build alliances and partnerships. And these partnerships now include channel partners as well as solution partners. I’d call this growling maturity.

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