EdgeX Foundry Member Spotlight: Mocana

By February 13, 2018 January 23rd, 2019 Blog, EdgeX Foundry

The EdgeX Foundry community is comprised of a diverse set of member companies that represent the IoT ecosystem. The Member Spotlight blog series highlights these members and how they are contributing to and leveraging open source solutions. Today, we sat down with William Diotte, President and CEO of Mocana, to discuss embedded security software, military applications and IoT analytics.

Tell me a little bit about your company.

Mocana provides mission-critical IoT security solutions for embedded systems, industrial controls and the internet of things. Today, Mocana protects more than 100 million embedded devices within military aircraft, manufacturing automation equipment, electric utility grid control systems, medical equipment and IoT devices. Our IoT security platform goes beyond traditional security approaches by making IoT and ICS devices trustworthy and enabling secure device-to-cloud communications.

Why is your company investing in the IoT ecosystem?

To deliver IoT- and connected-device-based services, it requires an entire ecosystem of connected, interoperable systems and services — from the chips to the sensors to the gateways, and up into the cloud or core systems and services tp provide “networks of systems.” Securing this “network of systems” requires a holistic approach and Mocana has developed relationships with a broad ecosystem of vendors in the IoT marketspace to develop pre-integrated solutions to ensure end customers receive robust, consistent protection when launching IoT services, while spending much less time architecting, developing and then supporting their new offerings.

How has IoT impacted your company? 

Mocana was founded in 2002 to provide security software for embedded systems in military aircraft and devices. We then extended our solution to address the needs of the industrial automation and controls market. With Mocana solutions protecting more than 100 million devices today, we are in a great position to help the IoT industry protect the billions of connected devices to ensure their security and safety.

Businesses currently have to invest a lot of time and energy into developing their own edge computing solutions. What are some of the business or technical challenges you have faced when adopting edge computing technologies? How have you overcome them?

Computing at the edge involves placing more intelligence in devices rather than handling all of the analytics and decision-making at the core, in a remote data center. For example, today’s modern industrial-grade surveillance cameras handle much of the video analytics at the edge. This allows a remote camera on a street corner to analyze surveillance video footage locally within the camera, rather than having to backhaul all of the data back to the cloud to analyze it. There is great advantage to doing this to speed analysis and reduce the time it takes to identify characteristics, such as color, object type and direction, in real time. The challenge of embedding more intelligence into edge devices is that they are sometimes resource constrained, meaning they have limited processing power and memory relative to a full-blown computer or data center server. Mocana addresses this by working closely with silicon vendors and real-time operating system software providers to optimize the performance of our security software on minimal systems so that edge computing applications can run securely.

Why did your company join EdgeX?

Mocana joined EdgeX as a founding member in order to deepen partnerships and relationships with Dell, VMware, Ubuntu, ADI and other major organizations within the growing IoT gateway ecosystem collaborating in the EdgeX community. The membership extends Mocana’s mission as an IoT security provider for devices that are delivering high-value connected services on edge computing systems. Mocana’s interoperability with the EdgeX ecosystem is essential to ensuring end customers have access to a robust, reliable, commercially tested and supported security solution that secures their high-value services running at the edge, as well as their device-to-gateway-to-cloud network of systems. The company is focused on improving interoperability, securing gateways, and providing a chain of trust for both northbound and southbound communication and analytics.

How are you going to use the framework?

Mocana will deliver an easy-to-use plug-in to quickly migrate from the base EdgeX open-source security framework and tools to Mocana’s comprehensive, reliable, commercially tested and supported security solution that secures their high-value services running at the edge, as well as their device-to-gateway-to-cloud network of systems.

Where do you see enterprise and industrial IoT in 50 years?

It’s hard to predict where the industry will be in 50 years; however, there no question that the internet of things  will transform the way we live, work and interact with our physical world. Sensors will be ubiquitous in everything, from our basic needs of what we eat and drink to what we use to do our jobs and experience the world. For example, today, sensors — tiny microcontrollers that are as small as grain of sand — are used in agricultural applications to measure temperature, moisture and pH of the soil. These sensors will decrease in size so that they can be ingested and measure various aspects of your health. In factories or even hospitals, human workers will work alongside robots that can use artificial intelligence and enhanced physical strength to improve the productivity as well as the safety of workers. In smart cities, the street lights will become beacons of information filled with sensors for weather, light, traffic, sound, proximity and surveillance. These will provide a great deal of information to make our cities safer and more efficient. As part of the Industry 4.0 revolution, industrial manufacturers are already incorporating sensors into factory equipment to measure performance and improve uptime and productivity. In the transportation sector, we will certainly see connected vehicles and autonomous driving cars. Fast progress is being made in this area. In 50 years, I could see flying personal vehicles and certainly a proliferation of drones.