Alliances Advance Edge to Cloud Analytics and Computing

Alliances Advance Edge to Cloud Analytics and Computing

Much of the interesting activity in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) space lately happens at the edge of the network. IT companies such as Dell Technologies and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have built upon their core technologies to develop powerful edge computing devices. Recently Bedrock Automation and Opto 22 on the OT side have also built interesting edge devices.

I’ve long maintained that all this technology—from intelligent sensing to cloud databases—means little without ways to make sense of the data. One company I rarely hear from is FogHorn Systems. This developer of edge intelligence software has recently been quite active on the partnership front. One announcement regards Wind River and the other Google.

FogHorn and Wind River (an Intel company) have teamed to integrate FogHorn’s Lightning edge analytics and machine learning platform with Wind River’s software, including Wind River Helix Device Cloud, Wind River Titanium Control, and Wind River Linux. This offering is said to accelerate harnessing the power of IIoT data. Specifically, FogHorn enables organizations to place data analytics and machine learning as close to the data source as possible; Wind River provides the technology to support manageability of edge devices across their lifecycle, virtualization for workload consolidation, and software portability via containerization.

“Wind River’s collaboration with FogHorn will solve two big challenges in Industrial IoT today, getting analytics and machine learning close to the devices generating the data, and managing thousands to hundreds of thousands of endpoints across their product lifecycle,” said Michael Krutz, Chief Product Officer at Wind River. “We’re very excited about this integrated solution, and the significant value it will deliver to our joint customers globally.”

FogHorn’s Lightning product portfolio embeds edge intelligence directly into small-footprint IoT devices. By enabling data processing at or near the source of sensor data, FogHorn eliminates the need to send terabytes of data to the cloud for processing.

“Large organizations with complex, multi-site IoT deployments are faced with the challenge of not only pushing advanced analytics and machine learning close to the source of the data, but also the provisioning and maintenance of a high volume and variety of edge devices,” said Kevin Duffy, VP of Business Development at FogHorn. “FogHorn and Wind River together deliver the industry’s most comprehensive solution to addressing both sides of this complex IoT device equation.”

Meanwhile, FogHorn Systems also announced a collaboration with Google Cloud IoT Core to simplify the deployment and maximize the business impact of Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications.

The companies have teamed up to integrate Lightning edge analytics and machine learning platform with Cloud IoT Core.

“Cloud IoT Core simply and securely brings the power of Google Cloud’s world-class data infrastructure capabilities to the IIoT market,” said Antony Passemard, Head of IoT Product Management at Google Cloud. “By combining industry-leading edge intelligence from FogHorn, we’ve created a fully-integrated edge and cloud solution that maximizes the insights gained from every IoT device. We think it’s a very powerful combination at exactly the right time.”

Device data captured by Cloud IoT Core gets published to Cloud Pub/Sub for downstream analytics. Businesses can conduct ad hoc analysis using Google BigQuery, run advanced analytics, and apply machine learning with Cloud Machine Learning Engine, or visualize IoT data results with rich reports and dashboards in Google Data Studio.

“Our integration with Google Cloud harmonizes the workload and creates new efficiencies from the edge to the cloud across a range of dimensions,” said David King, CEO at FogHorn. “This approach simplifies the rollout of innovative, outcome-based IIoT initiatives to improve organizations’ competitive edge globally, and we are thrilled to bring this collaboration to market with Google Cloud.”

Alliances Advance Edge to Cloud Analytics and Computing

Embedded and Edge Capture Attention At ARC Forum

I was so busy during the ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum last week, that I just couldn’t find time to write coherently. The keyword was digital supplemented by embedded, edge, IIoT, security, and transformation.

The Forum attracted perhaps not only its largest attendance but also its largest attendance of end users. The things that appeal to me are those that fit into the Industrial Internet of Things the most. Here are two related new product releases. The first one involves embedding HMI/SCADA software and the second involves using that embedded software in addition to many other technologies for an edge device.

First is the announcement from Inductive Automation concerning the creation of its Ignition Onboard program. The program involves device manufacturers embedding Ignition and Ignition Edge software in the devices they manufacture.

The program includes Ignition Onboard and Ignition Edge Onboard. Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition Edge is a line of lightweight, limited, low-cost Ignition software products which empower solutions designed for edge-of-network use.

“Device manufacturers have joined Ignition Onboard in response to their customers’ demands for an all-in-one solution that contains hardware and software at a reasonable price,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “These are companies that understand the importance of building a strong IIoT, and we’re very happy to be collaborating with them.”

The other announcement came from Opto 22. This is a significant advance in edge devices for industrial and SCADA applications.
The new groov EPIC system from Opto 22 combines I/O, control, data processing, and visualization into one secure, maintainable, edge-of-network industrial system. groov EPIC lets engineers and developers focus on delivering value, not on triaging loosely connected components.

“We are a company of engineers inspired and driven to create products that unleash our customers’ imaginations,” says Mark Engman, Opto 22 CEO. “groov EPIC is a culmination of that mission, a response to industry requests to more wholly integrate IT and OT technologies, simplify development and deployment, and provide a platform for long-term growth now and well into the future.”

Combining reimagined intelligent I/O with an embedded Linux real-time controller, gateway functions, and an integrated display, groov EPIC offers field-proven industrial hardware design with a modern software ensemble, to produce the results that visionary engineers want today.

Connecting legacy systems, controlling processes and automating machines, subscribing to web services and creating mashups, acquiring and publishing data, visualizing that data wherever it is needed, and mobilizing operators—all of these are now within reach. In addition, groov EPIC simplifies commissioning and wiring and helps engineers develop rapidly and deploy quickly.

“The groov EPIC system incorporates in one unit everything needed to connect and control field and operational devices and data, through on-premises IT databases, spreadsheets and other software, to cloud storage and services—and back again,” says Benson Hougland, Opto 22 vice president of Marketing & Product Strategy. “This ability to easily exchange data and use it where needed opens opportunities automation engineers have not had until now. This is a truly new system that builds on the past but looks fundamentally to the future of our industry.”

Of particular interest to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be optional access to the Linux operating system through secure shell (SSH). This access, along with toolchains and interpreters for Java, C/C++, Python, JavaScript/Node.js, and more, allows OEM developers to execute their own custom developed applications on this ruggedized, edge processing control system.

The main point of discussion between Benson and me lately is whether Sparkplug (from the developer of MQTT) is adequate for IoT applications. He favors the lightweight (technical, not pejorative) protocol or I tend to favor OPC UA over MQTT as a better overall solution due to its interoperability. But that’s OK. He and I have had these technical discussions for almost 20 years now. I love pushback, and I think Benson does as well. It raises the energy level.

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.

 

 

EdgeX Foundry Unifies the IoT Marketplace to Accelerate Enterprise IoT Deployments

Strategic Partnership Provides Developers End-To-End IoT Application Toolset

You’re a technology provider and wish to expand your presence in the Internet of Things (IoT) space? Build partnerships. I’ve written about several over the past year. There will be more. This is the age of partnership. Right now companies have figured out that they cannot be all things to all people.

Here is an interesting one. Opto 22 is not a large company, but because of that it is always pushing the envelope of OT and IT applications. On the other hand, we have IBM, a huge company, and its vaunted Watson super computer technology. A little like peanut butter and chocolate, looks like a winning combination.

Industrial automation manufacturer and Internet of Things application toolset provider Opto 22 announced it has been accepted into the IBM® Watson IoT Partner Ecosystem. This partnership provides developers with a full stack toolset for building applications that connect real-world signals and data from industrial “things” to the digital world of information technology, mobile, and cloud computing.

Tapping A $6 Trillion Opportunity

A Business Insider report forecasts there will be $4.8 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2016 and 2021. Billions of sensors, machines, and devices already exist in industrial infrastructure but are currently unable to connect to the Internet of things and cloud-based applications, like the IBM Watson IoT Platform.

This legacy equipment holds valuable untapped data that is needed to improve business processes and decisions in almost every enterprise and every industry. The partnership between IBM and Opto 22 enables developers to rapidly design, prototype, and deploy applications to connect existing industrial assets to the IBM Watson IoT platform and share their data, capabilities, and resources with other connected systems and assets, to build the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Building IIoT applications has historically been complex, requiring multiple layers of expensive middleware and significant developer manpower. IIoT applications built from the ground up can take months or even years, and require expertise in both the operations technology (OT) domain, where industrial assets live, and the information technology (IT) domain, where digital and cloud computing assets exist. These long development cycles increase cost, slow time to market, and increase risk of IIoT project failure for customers. Together these problems delay and reduce the return on investment for implementing IIoT applications.

Streamlining and Simplifying IIoT Application Development

Through this partnership, developers and systems integrators have a concise toolset for connecting the OT and IT domains. Combining open technologies like RESTful APIs and Node-RED with powerful and proven computing platforms like the IBM Watson IoT platform decreases development time, eliminates the need for expensive middleware, reduces risk for customers, and gets solutions to market faster.

According to Evans Data Corporation, 79% of Internet of Things app developers spend at least 25% of their time on developing analytics tools. The Watson IoT Platform reduces the need to focus on developing analytics systems and provides everything needed to harness the full potential of the Internet of Things. Rather than reinventing the wheel, developers can tap into the already built toolset provided by the IBM Watson IoT Platform.

Developers can connect, set up, and manage edge processing devices like programmable automation controllers from Opto 22 and apply real-time analytics, cognitive services, and blockchain technology to the data generated by these devices. Cognitive APIs deliver natural-language processing, machine-learning capabilities, text analytics, and image analytics to help developers realize the potential of the cognitive era with the IBM Watson IoT Platform.

“The industrial automation and control industry is in transition right now,” says Benson Hougland, Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy. “A product development strategy based on proprietary and closed technologies is outdated. The future of industrial automation and process control lies in the rising API and data economies made possible through open standards-based technologies. Our objective in partnering with IBM is to enable IIoT developers to build their applications faster using well-known and proven Internet tools and technology like Node-RED, RESTful APIs, and the IBM Watson IoT Platform.”

Getting Started With Opto 22 and IBM Watson IoT

Opto 22 has provided a recipe for developers to get started in connecting industrial systems to the Watson IoT Platform, as well as a video walking developers through the steps. Developers can access a trial version of the Watson IoT Platform on the IBM website.

Alliances Advance Edge to Cloud Analytics and Computing

Automation Shines At 2016 IMTS

Hannover Messe brought a slice of its automation trade show to this year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS)—a venue known for huge machine tools. This was the second time, and it seems to be gaining some traction. Most exhibitors seemed to be central European, but there was a presence from a number of other North American automation companies not to mention many from Asia.

I stopped by a large number of stands. Below are five that had press releases new for the show. Opto 22 was at the show with an opportunity to see its recently released product with a RESTful API in the real plastic, so to speak. That plus a promised MQTT support maintains Opto’s usual spot as an early adopter, if not first adopter in many cases, of IT technologies in its OT products. I also stopped by to talk with Tom Burke and Stefan Hoppe at the OPC Foundation stand. Its news was reported here last week.

(My two-day silence was caused by travel to California and participating in the Inductive Automation Ignition Customer Conference. More on that later.)

Companies addressed below:

  • Dell Technologies
  • Beckhoff Automation
  • Bedrock Automation
  • Universal Robots
  • Carbon (3D printing)

 

Dell Technologies

Appearing at IMTS in the automation hall for the first time, Dell Technologies showed its IoT Gateway and Embedded capabilities along with several partners that help it provide a complete Internet of Things solution from data collection through storage, analysis, and uploading to the cloud.

The major solution thrust for Dell thus far in its first year of existence has been predictive analytics especially for predictive maintenance applications. One of the featured partners was IBM Watson, using the famed supercomputer power for predictive analytics and EAP—its predictive maintenance solution.

Eigen showed a real-time quality application with in-process inspection. Some real-time analytics are performed in the gateway before sending data asynchronously to the cloud for further analysis.

Software AG, a partner from the beginning, provides a predictive maintenance software module that provided high speed streaming analytics in an ice cream factory. The module can also create service requests, see anomalies, order spare parts.

Beckhoff Automation

mx-beckhoff-arCheck me out in these cool Microsoft Hololense Augmented Reality (AR) glasses. In this demo, I could see live data streaming from a robotic application. Beckhoff also showed support for MQTT and AMQP transport technologies (it also has OPC UA embedded), an Internet of Things coupler to Microsoft Azure cloud, and power over Ethernet on EtherCat P.

 

 

Bedrock Automation

clarksville-light-water-has-implemented-the-bedrock-universal-control-system-as-a-scada-rtu-for-cyber-secure-substation-monitoring-and-controlBedrock Automation has built an entirely new automation and control platform from the ground up. Security is designed in, even to the point of designing and manufacturing its own chips. It offers single, double, and triple redundancy, IEC 61131 programming along with a powerful function block editor that brings it into the DCS world. And it features software configurable I/O, software configurable serial module (5 to a card can be RS-232, RS-422, RS-485), and software configurable Ethernet card (think Profinet, EtherNet/IP, etc.).

mx-bedrock-sps-power-supplyAt IMTS it announced its new intelligent, standalone power supply. The SPS.500 Secure Power Supply provides deep trust cyber security authentication and onboard intelligence for diagnostics and secure Ethernet communications. Encased in a NEMA 4X sealed aluminum enclosure, users of any PLC, SCADA RTU, PAC or DCS can retrofit to the new SPS.500 inside or outside enclosures, anywhere in a plant and in harsh environments.

Additional features include:

  • Ethernet and OPC/UA communications, enabling local or remote monitoring of power supply health for greater system reliability and plant safety
  • A powerful cyber secure microprocessor and onboard memory for diagnostics and software-defined functionality
  • A built-in redundancy module, which simplifies installation and increases reliability by eliminating the need for an external redundancy module
  • Two built-in, software-configurable Form C contact relays, which provide operating and diagnostic status

Universal Robots

One of the big things in automation this year is collaborative robots, or cobos. A leader in this area is a new entrant—Universal Robots. This Danish company showed its products at IMTS. It also announced two unique new initiatives.

  • Universal Robots+: an ecosystem of products and applications, users choosing accessories, end-effectors, and software solutions from Universal Robots+, both distributors and end-users, get high security and predictability that applications will run well from the start.
  • +YOU: a unique, free-of-charge developer program, offering a powerful marketing and support platform for the flourishing eco-system of UR-robot application developers.

Alongside the launch of Universal Robots+, a new update for the robot arm’s operating software has been published. The new release (Software Version 3.3) includes updates such as the Profinet IO device functionality. The new compatibility with Profinet protocols opens up numerous additional areas of deployment and activities for robots. “A key feature of the update supporting the Universal Robots+ platform is the ability for providers to now offer solutions that interface seamlessly with the UR software,” says Østergaard.

Carbon 3D

Carbon 3D announced new funding from strategic investors toward the goal of bringing additive technology to more customers transitioning from prototyping-only use cases, to applications requiring final production quality parts with great surface finish, broad and expanding material options and the plans to transition to mainstream manufacturing. A Silicon Valley 3D printing company working at the intersection of hardware, software and molecular science, Carbon also plans to offer its proprietary CLIP technology internationally and is accelerating production to meet worldwide demand for its M1 printer.

The expansion is supported by $81 million from new investors GE Ventures, BMW, Nikon and JSR, as well as existing investors, bringing Carbon’s funding total to $222 million. More details of additional strategic investors involved in this round of financing will be announced in 2017 along with details of their manufacturing projects that utilize Carbon’s technology.