Veronika Schmid-Lutz (SAP) Elected Chair of OPC Foundation Board of Directors

Veronika Schmid-Lutz (SAP) Elected Chair of OPC Foundation Board of Directors

OPC Foundation’s continuous improvement program extended with the addition of new Chair for its Board of Directors. I haven’t had an OPC Foundation conversation since April. Based on conversations with numerous leaders in Hannover, I think this is a great step forward by the Foundation’s board of directors. I’m not sure what precipitated the addition, but I’ve met Schmid-Lutz and she’ll do an excellent job of bringing cohesiveness and direction to the organization.

OPC UA is solid technology used by most automation and IoT companies. These moves to strengthen the organization can only be positive.

This from the original press release—In this key position, the Chair manages the strategic and tactical directives of the Board of Directors and ensures the marketing, technical, and overall business activities of the OPC Foundation consistently align with its vision and objectives. In addition, the Chair organizes and calls the Board of Directors meetings and engages directly with the organization’s infrastructure. The Chair position requires a dynamic leader who can navigate the political, business, and technical challenges associated with a standard setting organization.

Veronika Schmid-Lutz was honored by the trust and confidence placed in her by her fellow board members and noted that “being elected as the Chair of the OPC Foundation’s board is a great honor for me. My focus will be to strengthen and pursuing all aspects that make interoperability between devices, machines, and business systems as simple and as secure as possible.”

Thomas J. Burke, President of the OPC Foundation commented on the importance of the Chair position and why Ms. Schmid-Lutz was the right person to fill it, “Veronika clearly demonstrated her excellent leadership and business skills as a member of the OPC Foundation Board of Directors. Based on this I believe she is well suited to now serve as the Board’s Chair. With Veronika at the helm of the business, I look forward to see her facilitate and successfully drive the OPC Foundation vision into the next era.” Mr. Burke concluded saying “It’s a great honor to have Veronika accept this important leadership role. We look forward to see her oversee communicating the importance of OPC UA into the IT world.”

Recognizing the value of both the organization and its deliverables, Veronika Schmid-Lutz emphasized the importance of OPC UA by noting: “Easy interoperability is an important enabler for intelligent systems leveraging new technologies in software and hardware. SAP strongly supports OPC UA as it simplifies and accelerates information exchange between heterogeneous systems and devices which is why Platform Industrie 4.0 has made OPC-UA a key component of its RAMI architecture. The board looks forward to continue enhancing the value of both the organization and its deliverables.”

Platform for Secure and Scalable Cloud-Native Edge Application Management

Platform for Secure and Scalable Cloud-Native Edge Application Management

The CEO of Zededa told me in an interview a few months ago that his mission was no less than to build the largest computing company on Earth without owning infrastructure. Its vision—create a new edge economy that allows applications to run anywhere.

When I wrote in April, the company was emerging from stealth mode. Its most recent announcement proclaims:

  • First demonstrable cloud-native platform for edge applications, early customer access to end-to-end app operations platform purpose built for the edge underway
  • Zero-touch infrastructure modernization for legacy embedded systems; simple to move legacy apps and OS from outdated systems to newer, cloud-native edge hardware
  • Zededa joins EdgeX Foundry to bolster the organization’s vision of an open and secure cloud-native future that enables all new IoT applications
  • Major edge system vendors turning to Zededa for operational automation, insights and protection of applications running on their systems

Zededa announced early access to its platform that provides real-time apps a simple “on-ramp” to the cloud-native edge. From legacy embedded systems to modern, AI-based IoT apps, the platform provides the scalability, security and visibility required to allow operations teams to unlock the power of real-time apps without concerns about bandwidth, latency or dependency on the cloud.

Operations technology teams have three primary situations to deal with when it comes to IoT applications: how to upgrade and secure a massive install base of legacy embedded systems, how to retrofit existing equipment with IoT sensors and applications to take advantage of real-time data, and how to deploy entirely new applications like AI-powered robots and self-driving fleets.

Closed, monolithic systems at the edge—either closed by design or closed because of legacy embedded device development workflows—are the last major impediment to solving these problems and enabling IoT to achieve its stated $1.3 trillion market potential. Zededa’s platform demonstrates how cloud-native edge solves the most urgent problem for organizations looking into digital transformation—upgrading and protecting legacy systems without truck-rolls—and gives solution providers a way to easily adopt IoT sensors and industrial gateways to provide real-time data to operational software. Initial natively-supported hardware partners include platforms built on ARM and Intel x86 processors from leading vendors including Advantech Corporation, Lanner, SuperMicro, and Scalys.

“Cloud-native edge computing will be a diverse universe unlike anything in cloud datacenters today,” said Roman Shaposhnik, VP of Product and Strategy at Zededa. “We are making the modernization of edge infrastructure secure, simple and automated in preparation for a fundamental shift away from legacy embedded systems. An open system that allows BYO hardware into a cloud-native platform is a start of the future: a computing environment that is distributed, autonomous and cooperative.”

To help drive entirely new applications and operational possibilities at the edge across a diverse universe of devices, Zededa has joined EdgeX Foundry, a vendor-neutral open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation with a goal to build a common open framework for IoT edge computing.

“Interoperability and convergence on common industry standards is vital for organizations deploying next-generation distributed computing solutions at the IoT Edge,” said Jason Shepherd, Chair of EdgeX Foundry Governing Board and Dell Technologies IoT CTO. “By joining EdgeX Foundry’s efforts Zededa will help promote the project’s important work of creating an open ecosystem of secure, interoperable edge applications that will change user experiences and drive the future of business.”

Currently providing early access to select customers, Zededa is accepting sign-ups for demonstrations and private briefings.

Founded in 2016, Zededa is pioneering a cloud-native approach to the deployment, management and security of real-time edge applications at hyperscale for solutions ranging from self-driving cars to industrial robots. Zededa is headquartered in Santa Clara, CA with engineering and market development teams based in India, UK, Germany and Korea.

EdgeX Foundry is an open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation building a common open framework for IoT edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components that unifies the marketplace and accelerates the deployment of IoT solutions. Designed to run on any hardware or operating system and with any combination of application environments, EdgeX enables developers to quickly create flexible IoT edge solutions that can easily adapt to changing business needs.

Global Survey: Companies Turning to Multi-Platform Strategy to Digitally Transform Businesses

Global Survey: Companies Turning to Multi-Platform Strategy to Digitally Transform Businesses

I’m interested in where all this IoT, IT/OT convergence, and digital transformation technology is taking us. This survey on platforms is revealing. Nearly forty percent of respondents are using Platform as a Service (PaaS), containers, and serverless technologies together for flexibility and interoperability.

Companies are using different cloud-native technologies side-by-side at an increasing pace to build both new cloud-native applications and to refactor traditional applications, according to the latest report <https://www.cloudfoundry.org/multi-platform-trend-report-2018> released by the Cloud Foundry Foundation <http://www.cloudfoundry.org/>, home of the most widely-adopted open source cloud technologies in the world.

“As IT Decision Makers settle into their cloud journey, they are more broadly deploying a combination of available platforms, including PaaS, containers and serverless,” said Abby Kearns, Executive Director, Cloud Foundry Foundation. “In this multi-platform world, it should come as no surprise that, as they become more comfortable with these tools, IT decision makers are searching for a suite of technologies to work together. They want technologies that integrate with their current solutions in order to address their needs today—but are flexible enough to address their needs in the future.”

Key Findings include:
• A Multi-Platform World:Technologies are being used side by side more than ever before. IT decision makers report 77 percent are using or evaluating Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS), 72 percent are using or evaluating containers and 46 percent are using or evaluating serverless computing. More than a third (39 percent) are using a combination of all three technologies together.
• A Mix of New Cloud-Native and Refactoring Legacy Applications:57 percent of IT decision makers report their companies do a mix of building new cloud-native applications and refactoring existing applications, an increase of nine percentage points from late 2017.
• Containers Have Crossed the Chasm: For companies choosing to develop new or refactor existing applications, they are choosing containers.
• Serverless is on the Upswing: Serverless computing is being evaluated with rapid momentum. Only 43 percent of respondents are not using serverless and 10 percent more companies are evaluating serverless than in 2017.
• PaaS Usage Continues to Swell: PaaS is being more broadly deployed than ever before and companies are developing new cloud-native applications at increased momentum. It stands to reason that these two upsurges happen in tandem. This growth in usage is bolstered by the 62 percent of IT decision makers who report their companies save over $100,000 by using a PaaS.
• Flexibility and Interoperability are Key: IT decision makers ranked “Integration with existing tools” and “Flexibility to work with new tools” in the top five attributes in a platform, alongside Security, Support, and Price.

Less than six months ago, the Foundation’s 2017 report “Innovation & Relevance: A Crossroads on the Cloud Journey <https://www.cloudfoundry.org/cloud-journey-report/>” indicated IT decision makers were advancing in their cloud journeys. In 2016, IT Decision Makers reported a lack of clarity around IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) technologies, and most were still in the evaluation stages. By late 2017, they had progressed to selection and broader deployment of cloud solutions. Twenty percent report of IT decision makers report primarily building new cloud-native applications, up five percentage points from last year, while 13 percent say they are primarily refactoring, a drop of 11 points. As an increasing number of companies are developing new cloud-native applications, PaaS is being broadly deployed by more companies than ever. It stands to reason that these two upsurges happen in tandem.

Cloud Foundry Application Runtime is a mature and growing cloud application platform used by large enterprises to develop and deploy cloud-native applications, saving them significant amounts of time and resources. Enterprises benefit from the consistency of Cloud Foundry Application Runtime across a variety of distributions of the platform, thanks to a Certified Provider program. Cloud Foundry Container Runtime combines Kubernetes with the power of Cloud Foundry BOSH, enabling a uniform way to instantiate, deploy and manage highly available Kubernetes clusters on any cloud, making deployment, management and integration of containers easy.

To receive a copy of the survey, go here <https://www.cloudfoundry.org/multi-platform-trend-report-2018>. The survey was conducted and produced by ClearPath Strategies <http://www.clearpath-strategies.com/>, a strategic consulting and research firm for the world’s leaders and progressive forces.

Cloud Foundry is an open source technology backed by the largest technology companies in the world, including Dell EMC, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Pivotal, SAP and SUSE, and is being used by leaders in manufacturing, telecommunications and financial services. Only Cloud Foundry delivers the velocity needed to continuously deliver apps at the speed of business. Cloud Foundry’s container-based architecture runs apps in any language on your choice of cloud — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, OpenStack, VMware vSphere, and more. With a robust services ecosystem and simple integration with existing technologies, Cloud Foundry is the modern standard for mission critical apps for global organizations.

The Cloud Foundry Foundation is an independent non-profit open source organization formed to sustain the development, promotion and adoption of Cloud Foundry as the industry standard for delivering the best developer experiences to companies of all sizes. The Foundation projects include Cloud Foundry Application Runtime, Cloud Foundry Container Runtime, BOSH, Open Service Broker API, Abacus, CF-Local, CredHub, ServiceFabrik, Stratos and more. Cloud Foundry makes it faster and easier to build, test, deploy and scale applications, and is used by more than half the Fortune 500, representing nearly $15 trillion in combined revenue. Cloud Foundry is hosted by The Linux Foundation and is an Apache 2.0 licensed project available on Github:https://github.com/cloudfoundry. To learn more, visit:http://www.cloudfoundry.org <http://www.cloudfoundry.org/>.

IoT Platform EdgeX Foundry Releases New Version

IoT Platform EdgeX Foundry Releases New Version

Platforms that serve to expedite the interaction and collaboration of apps in the Internet of Things (IoT) are sort of the next new thing. There are several that some of the IT analyst firms are following. Trouble is the term allows for a wide variety.

One I’ve written about several times here and here and here is open source developed under the auspices of the Linux Foundation with major leadership and contributions by Dell Technologies. It’s called the EdgeX Foundry. The initiative includes 47 member companies.

The second major release of the platform (California) has just seen the light of day. I picked up information from a blog post by Jim White, Vice Chair of the Technical Steering Committee and Distinguished Engineer and Project Lead of the IoT Platform Development Team within Dell Technologies IoT Solutions Division.

Following is a lightly edited version of his blog concerning the announcement.

While EdgeX is only a year old, our community is demonstrating its staying power with the second major release in its first year.  The California release, which follows Barcelona, shows the commitment and dedication of many who see the importance and potential of developing a flexible, open source, IoT software platform for the edge that provides connectivity and interoperability while still allowing value add.

So, what is new with the California release?  A lot! But before we get into the details, I want to highlight that the biggest focus of this release was to introduce a few key security capabilities and to make EdgeX smaller and faster.
Security

EdgeX began its existence without security and organizations wanting to leverage the platform had to add their own security capability. Today, EdgeX incorporates some of the first security elements.  These initial elements, while useful on their own, are essential building blocks to additional security features in the future.

The first security elements include a reverse proxy that helps protect the REST API communications and a secrets store.  With the EdgeX reverse proxy in place – as provided by incorporating an open source product called Kong – any external client of an EdgeX micro service must first authenticate themselves before successfully calling on an EdgeX API.

The secure storage facility was provided by incorporating the open source Vault (Hashicorp) product, and it allows items such as username/password credentials, certificates, secure tokens, etc. to be persisted and protected within EdgeX.  These types of “secrets” will allow EdgeX to, for example, encrypt data, make HTTPS calls to the enterprise, or connect EdgeX to a cloud provider in a secure manner.

Performance and Scalability

The EdgeX Foundry Technical Steering Committee decided early last year in the project’s formation that we would release twice a year – once in April and once in October.  You probably noticed that it’s not April.

Last year, we decided that EdgeX needed to be smaller and faster to better function effectively at “the edge”, which the largely-Java code from the seed donation was going to make difficult. To do this, we needed to rebuild the EdgeX microservices in Go Lang – and do so by our spring 2018 release.  This was not a small endeavor and it was made at a time when the EdgeX Foundry developer community was just coming on board.  We knew it would take a bit more time, but we were committed to this, and added two more months to this release cycle.

The extra time was well worth it!  With the California release, we’ve dramatically lowered the footprint, startup time, memory and CPU usage. Take a look at the statistics below, which compares services from our first community release last October (Barcelona) to our current release (California).

We still have work to do, but it’s now possible to run all of EdgeX on something like a Raspberry Pi 3.

Additional Features
In addition to the initial security capabilities and reducing the size and latency of the platform, this release includes other work – some visible to the user while some features are more hidden but improve the overall quality of EdgeX.
• Several additions were made to the export services to provide additional “northbound” connectivity, to include connectors for XMPP, ThingsBoard IoT, and Brightics IoT
• We improved the documentation and now have documentation stored with the code in Github – allowing it to be maintained and updated more like code by the community
• Arm 64 is now fully supported.  In fact we worked with the Linux Foundation to add external environments and tools to create native Arm 64 artifacts.
• We added blackbox tests for all the micro services.  These are now kicked off as part of our build and continuous integration processes.
• Other improvements were made to our continuous integration – to help streamline developer contributions

On to Delhi

Our next release, named Delhi, will come out in October 2018.  Due to the extended release cycle for California, the Delhi release cycle is going to be short. The significant features planned for Delhi include:
• Initial manageability services and capability
• Device Service SDKs (Go/C) and at least one example device service
• The next wave of security features to include access control lists to grant access to appropriate services and improved security service bootstrapping
• Better/more unit testing and added performance testing
• Adding the last of the refactored and improved Go Lang microservices
• Outlining options and a potential implementation plan for alternate or additional database support
• An EdgeX UI suitable for demos and smaller installations

Microsoft Acquires GitHub and Other Big Company and Open Source Thoughts

Microsoft Acquires GitHub and Other Big Company and Open Source Thoughts

Microsoft acquiring GitHub, the repository of many open source projects, on the surface appears almost as an oxymoron. However, as I’ve written previously about big companies and OPC UA standard big companies now find open source and interoperability to be sound business decisions rather than threatening to their proprietary hold on technology.

OPC and Standards

Two years ago in my Podcast Gary on Manufacturing 149 also found on YouTube, I asked the question why major suppliers of automation technology for manufacturing/production hated OPC UA—an industry information model standard. That is by far the most viewed YouTube podcast I’ve ever done. I followed up with Gary on Manufacturing 175 and YouTube to update the situation to current situation.

It is still getting comments, some two years later. Some guy (probably works for a big company?) even dissed me about it.

However, the industry witnessed an almost tectonic shift in the approach of these automation suppliers toward standards. First Siemens went all in on OPC UA. Then last November and following Rockwell Automation has had several deep discussions with me about the adoption of OPC UA.

Why? Users demand more interoperability. And using standards is the easiest way forward for interoperability. Suppliers have discovered that standards allow them to continue to push development of their “black boxes” of technology while allowing themselves and their customers to assemble systems of technology.

Microsoft News

In my favorite news site, Axios, Ina Fried writes:

Microsoft announced this morning it is acquiring GitHub, the social network for coders as well as home to millions of different software projects, for $7.5 billion.

“The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us. Computing is becoming embedded in the world, with every part of our daily life and work and every aspect of our society and economy being transformed by digital technology. Developers are the builders of this new era, writing the world’s code. And GitHub is their home.”
— Satya Nadellla, CEO, Microsoft

Why it matters: This would further highlight the complete turnaround the company has already made in its stance toward source software.

Behind the scenes: While former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once called Linux a cancer, the company has steadily warmed to open source, with Nadella embracing it with open arms.

GitHub plays into that strategy as it’s used by developers of all stripes to store their code projects. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2008 and is now home to 80 million software repositories. The company has been searching for a new CEO since last year.

Why it matters: Playing host to the world’s code doesn’t necessarily make Microsoft a more central player, but it could tightly integrate GitHub into its developer tools. Microsoft decided last year to shut down its own CodePlex software repository, bowing to GitHub’s popularity.

What about Windows? Though certainly a fan of its homegrown operating system, Microsoft’s main goal these days is to be in tight with developers and get them writing code that can live in its Azure cloud.

Microsoft even dropped the Windows name from Azure, reflecting the fact you don’t have to use Windows to work with Azure.

History lesson: Microsoft’s shift to embrace Linux is somewhat reminiscent of the earlier move IBM made to do so. Both companies are now seen as the mature veterans of the enterprise market, more interested in meeting corporate computing needs than pushing homegrown architectures.

This information was also posted on the Microsoft Blog.

Other Open Source Information

My other travels and interviews have yielded other companies who have invested heavily in open source.

Within the last two years I have had a few conversations with Microsoft about their open source code donations. While I am a little surprised at acquiring GitHub, perhaps this will lend financial stability to the platform (although we do have to note that large company investments do not always insure financial stability.

Dell Technologies and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, two companies I have more recently studied are both proud to be contributors to open source. A couple of years ago considerable time at one of the keynotes at Dell World to open source projects.

I think that some of these companies are realizing that they don’t have to invent everything themselves. Being good software citizens benefits them as well as the community.

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