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EdgeX Foundry Member Spotlight: Switch Automation

By 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 chatted with Deb Noller, CEO and co-founder of Switch Automation.

What does your company do and what is your role? I’m the CEO and co-founder of Switch Automation. Switch is committed to creating a more sustainable world, one broken building at a time. We recognize that buildings contribute 39% to CO emissions in the U.S. alone and have a massive impact on everything from climate change to employee health and productivity. Our end-to-end solution helps enterprises uncover hidden inefficiencies in their real estate portfolios and provides real-time insight to optimize building performance.

How would you describe your company in three sentences?  Switch Automation is a smart building platform that collects disjointed building data, aggregates it in a cloud-based global framework and synthesizes the data into actionable insights. From on-site IoT monitoring devices to energy metering and sub-systems, our configurable dashboards provide a single interface where a range of facilities management professionals can understand building performance, employ fault detection and diagnostics, and execute real-time control and command. The Switch Engineering Services team, in-house data scientists and integration experts work closely with customers to ensure smooth implementation and a best-in-class user experience.

Why is your company investing in the IoT ecosystem? When Apple introduced the iPhone, they didn’t set out to build every single app. The IoT industry is enormous and there is plenty of room for many companies to be successful. However, it’s a complex space and can be difficult to build an end-to-end, quick to deploy solution. My belief is that best in-class solution providers will partner together to solve this problem and deliver more flexible, scalable options for customers.

How has IoT impacted your company? What benefits have you seen or what do you expect to achieve? IoT is our business. In the last 5 years, we’ve implemented the Switch Platform in more than 70 million sf of real estate and helped a wide range of customers realize hundreds of thousands in operational and energy savings.

Given the forecast for 70 billion connected devices by 2025 and the building-related IoT market growth to $76 billion in 2020, we will continue updating the Platform to accommodate innovative technologies, artificial intelligence and machine learning as they become operational mainstays.

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? We had to build our own gateways and software stack to provide the interoperability, security and connectivity between systems and devices that our customers expect. Security can present a big challenge, but fortunately we’ve partnered with Dell for our hardware solution, the Switch Gateway. The Gateway utilizes TPM, Secure Boot, and Trusted App to help tamper-proof the Switch Platform. We then built a state of the art software solution on top of the Switch Gateway to reinforce protection from external threats.

Why did your company join EdgeX? For the last five years we’ve seen what a truly cohesive IoT ecosystem can do to foster connectivity, sustainability, scalability and generate huge savings for our customers.

One of our clients, a leading financial institution with 7,000+ branches, uses the Switch Platform to monitor signage, lighting, space temperatures, occupancy, energy usage and more. Prior to implementing the Platform, their operations team endured the tedious and time-consuming practice of gathering vast amounts of data from multiple disparate sources then wrestling it into actionable insights. Each branch was an isolated silo of information and by the time the information was filtered down to meaningful findings, the window for significant savings had closed.

By leveraging the Switch Platform to connect vital systems, our customer now spots problems in real time and engages the appropriate resources to repair it before incurring costly operational and capital expenses.

We want to help more businesses achieve these kinds of results and believe that supporting collaborative industry endeavors like EdgeX is a great step.

How are you going to use the framework? We already use the framework and recommend it to our customers as the best way forward for their business.

Where do you see enterprise and industrial IoT in 20 years? In 20 years, enterprise and industrial IoT will be the norm. Cars in the 1950s didn’t have electric locks–now they do. People will have devices all over their buildings and the data will be freely shared across the organization. Automated analytics, machine learning and AI will all have a seat at the table and align with evolving customer needs.

In the IoT age, what shouldn’t be connected and why? Just because you can connect to a plethora of widgets, doesn’t mean you should. I like to ask, “Does connecting to this device deliver a worthwhile and tangible benefit to the end user?”

EdgeX Foundry Member Spotlight: Samsung Electronics

By Blog, EdgeX Foundry

Today, EdgeX Foundry announced Samsung Electronics has joined as a Platinum member to help accelerate open source development of their industrial IoT edge platform. You can view the complete news release here.

We had the chance to sit down with Kyeongwoon Lee, Senior Vice President for Samsung Electronics, to discuss why they joined the EdgeX community and how they will be using the framework.

What is your your role within Samsung?

I am one of the core contributors and enablers for Samsung’s IoT business in terms of connectivity with our variety of products. By working with the IoT ecosystem, I am very active in the open source community and leverage different standards such as Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and IoTivity.

What is Samsung’s vision for Industrial IoT? 

Our traditional portfolio includes Consumer Electronics (CE), Information technology & Mobile Communications (IM) and Device Solutions (DS). But there is a lot of potential in Industrial IoT (IIoT), such as Smart Manufacturing, Smart Building and Smart Lighting and Smart Energy Management, and we believe we need to build a synergy and true seamless interoperable IoT services across the business domains. As one of the biggest manufacturing companies around the world, we have many infrastructures and a lot of experiences but, if we collaborate with EdgeX Foundry, we believe that our IIoT efforts will be much more clear and stronger. We will be able to continue building and growing an IIoT business.

What are some of the business or technical challenges you have faced when developing IoT edge solutions? How have you overcome them?

The biggest technical challenge is interoperability. There are a variety of devices in factories that are part of proprietary solutions and aren’t talking to each other.  Even in global standardization, there are still Brownfield areas that are used by proprietary solutions which makes interoperability a challenge. The other challenges are scalability and flexibility. For example, real-time operations is very important and in order to meet performance criteria, we need scalability.

We’ve overcome some of these challenges by working with open source such as IoTivity, and leveraging some of the IoT standards like OCF. In addition to this, when it comes to the IIoT ecosystem, we need more flexibility per vertical specific use case, so that we could expect the faster and more optimized deployment. We believe that the best answer is to collaborate on a pure open source platform that is vendor neutral and can work with existing technologies and services. This will help us deploy the very best to the industry and developers. 

Why is Samsung joining EdgeX Foundry?

We are attracted to EdgeX Foundry’s value proposition and recognize that it is the best solution for several of our challenges – interoperability, scalability, flexibility and transparency to existing cloud services. EdgeX Foundry will help us create lightweight edge solutions with the support a growing community with Industrial IoT edge platform expertise.

How are you planning to use the EdgeX framework? How do you think it will help you achieve your business goals?

EdgeX Foundry will help Samsung create interoperable and lightweight edge solutions that will help us grow and strengthen our presence in Industrial IoT.

More EdgeX Device/Sensor Connectivity

By Blog, EdgeX Foundry

Written by Jim White, TSC Member and  Chair of Core Services Working Group

When we first introduced EdgeX to the LF community back in the spring of this year, Dell contributed more than a dozen micro services, a lot of documentation, and the start of a build process.

Since, the community has grown considerably (now more than 60 companies have signed on), we have held our first community technical meetings to set the roadmap for the first community release and direction for releases to come over the next 12-18 months.  We also have community members already contributing to the project or working on the upcoming release.

At Dell, we are still very much a part of this effort, and today I’d like to announce the contribution of six more example device microservices (we call them device services) to the open source EdgeX platform.  These are microservices we built from the device service SDK as examples of how to connect to actual devices like those using Modbus, BACnet, BLE, SNMP, and MQTT protocols.  So they serve multiple purposes in the community:

  • Demonstrate more south side connectivity
  • Demonstrate other implementations of the device service via the SDK
  • Demonstrate connectivity to EdgeX via specific industrial Iot protocols
  • Allow more real world devices to be connected to EdgeX today!

EXF_Platform Architecture

Modbus is a serial communications protocol that has been in existence since 1979 (truly brownfield!) and is used primarily in programmable logic controllers (PLC) and electronic devices.

BACnet is used in building automation and control networks that typically manage heating, ventilation and AC systems.

SNMP is an internet standard protocol that was created for collecting and organizing information about systems / devices on an IP network – most notably like modems, switches, severs, printers, etc.

If you own a smartphone or have a home smart device, you are probably already familiar with the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol which is used typically in wireless personal area networks.

And MQTT is a pub-sub messaging protocol used on top of TCP/IP in combination with a message broker that has been used in a variety of use cases and systems for a few decades.

When we first released EdgeX, we provided the device service SDK and a single device service, which was the virtual device service.  The virtual device service allowed for the simulation of any device /sensor connectivity into EdgeX through software, but did not facilitate actual devices.  With the collection of device services that Dell is contributing today, EdgeX now has open source community code to connect to real devices.

At Dell, we continue our commitment to this project and plan to contribute more of the code we created as part of our original Fuse Project.  We also join with the community to make additional contributions and commitments jointly.  Come join in the effort and help us, the entire EdgeX Foundry community, make the best open source IoT platform on the planet.

EdgeX Foundry Member Spotlight: Beechwoods Software

By Blog, EdgeX Foundry

During our last F2F meeting, we had the opportunity to sit down with Brad Kemp, the President and Founder of Beechwoods Software and an EdgeX Foundry Board Member. Known as a technical “rainmaker” in the startup community, Brad believes that IoT should be a seamless experience that “just works,” which is why Beechwoods was one of the initial members of EdgeX Foundry when it launched in April. Check out the video of our chat below to learn more about common challenges his customers face and how he believes EdgeX Foundry will help solve those issues.  

Recap: EdgeX Foundry’s First Technical Face-to-Face

By Blog, EdgeX Foundry

Ahead of the EdgeX Foundry technical meeting happening in London this week, we wanted to share some highlights from our first technical Face-to-Face (F2F) meeting, which took place in Boston at the beginning of June. A special thanks to everyone who attended and to Analog Devices for graciously hosting us at their headquarters.

We had a diverse group of participants from across the IoT landscape including start-ups, established companies, system integrators, cloud service providers and hardware manufacturers.  More than 60 people traveled to Boston from across the U.S. and as far away as Norway, France and Poland, with an additional 20+ joining remotely by phone. Companies participating in the meeting included Analog Devices, ARM, Canonical, Dell EMC, ForgeRock, GE, IBM, Linaro, NetFoundry, Neustar, Object Management Group, Parallel Machines, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Switch Automation, RSA and Two Bulls.

The working meeting brought together technical representatives from EdgeX Foundry member companies as well as the wider technical community to align on project goals, develop working groups, establish the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) structure and begin discussing next steps for EdgeX Foundry including a future certification program.

Meeting highlights include appointing Keith Steele, CEO of IOTech, as chair of the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) and approving the formation of eight initial EdgeX working groups:

This week’s meeting is being hosted by Dell EMC to discuss the goals and objectives for the first MVP release named Barcelona due out this fall. A draft Barcelona MVP plan is available here

Interested in joining the next TSC meeting or participating in a working group? Subscribe to one of our mailing lists or visit the EdgeX wiki to stay up-to-date on upcoming face-to-face meetings and technical developments. You can also follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for the latest news and announcements.

Full notes, presentations and recordings from the Boston face-to-face are also available on the EdgeX wiki.