Zededa creates a new architecture for the edge

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Any connected computer could become a platform for Zededa’s distributed cloud.

Edge computing efforts are a dime a dozen nowadays, but after mocking the launch of Zededa a few weeks back for its buzzword-heavy press release without any technical details, I talked to the company’s CEO, Said Ouissal. He explained exactly what the startup’s vision is, and it’s a pretty novel way to build applications that could run on any gateway device.

The overarching goal of the startup is to help companies put software on edge devices that can be run securely, with little expertise needed from customers. Those devices might be machines aggregating sensor data or traffic cameras monitoring a street. Ouissal sees each of these devices as a set of infrastructure with common traits, which means Zededa developers can build applications that can span many different devices — and needs.

Zededa’s approach is akin to how developing software for the cloud works today, except that with the cloud the underlying physical hardware is relatively similar. In the IoT world, there are seemingly endless different types of computing devices — from a $ 6 Pi-based computer to a powerful Xeon gateway. There’s also a big question as to whether one needs to build vertical solutions for the industrial world.

A large contingent of industrial IoT entrepreneurs are betting that customers want to buy hardware, software, and cloud services that are vertically integrated so they don’t have to manage complex IT sourcing for something that could become vital to their business. Zededa thinks heterogeneous hardware and existing customer hardware can instead be transformed into something that handles a wide variety of applications. It basically wants to become the Amazon Web Services built on top of millions of connected IoT devices.

To do this, Zededa is creating a software package that combines a hypervisor and a new concept in computing called unikernals. Unikernals are packages of software that contain an application and only the underlying operating system required to run that application. So if the application doesn’t need a file system, that gets jettisoned. The end result is very simple blobs of code (I’d call it a container, but that means something different).

A container, such as those offered by Docker or Kubernetes, provide everything a piece of software needs to run such as the OS, runtime, libraries etc. It’s more flexible than a virtual machine created by a hypervisor, but has more overheard than a unikernal.

The hypervisor is important as well. While newer IoT implementations might view hypervisors as a relic of the server era, there are millions of older connected computers running Windows operating systems that can’t be shoved in a container. For those, you need a hypervisor, says Ouissal. He’s not alone. Last week, The Linux Foundation released an open-source hypervisor designed for the IoT with contributions from Intel and others. It’s called ACRN.

These elements communicate exchange data with the machines they are on and also send information back to a cloud operated by Zededa. The blobs of code and the hypervisor help ensure that the applications that are accessing the edge device stay secure even if the device is tampered with, while the cloud governs the way applications run on the extended hardware devices.

Some of this approach reminds me of what Resin.io is doing with its ability to run containers at the edge, allowing customers to manage applications across their fleets of IoT devices in a way that’s closer to the way they can manage their applications across a cloud infrastructure. But a lot of this also feels very novel, such as the adoption of unikernals that allow software to run in constrained environments.

I’ve spent years trying to define an edge computing stack, and it shifts depending on who I talk to. The one constant, though, is that it’s trying to use existing technology to solve what feels like a very new computing paradigm. And I’m not using the word “paradigm” as jargon. Creating a trusted, secure, auditable, and manageable way to deploy software across millions of nodes is a very different challenge for computing. It really is a new paradigm.

I’m not sure if Zededa’s software is the right path forward, but when it launches later this year, I can’t wait to see how people build on it and with it.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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Aerones creates drone to de-ice and service wind turbines

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aerones drone technology can de-ice wind turbines and put out fires

Malek Murison explains how a Latvian drone startup is repurposing consumer technology to provide critical infrastructure maintenance.

Aerones made headlines last year when one of the Latvian company’s drones was used to assist in a skydive. The move was a publicity stunt to attract attention to Aerones’ drone technology and its potential applications.

Using drones for turbine maintenance

Read more: How Skydroid could protect prisons from drone smugglers

Among those applications is wind turbine maintenance, a huge potential market for drone operators, considering the scale (and often remoteness) of the structures, and the global push towards renewable energy.

Ice and dirt can reduce the output of wind farms. To tackle this problem, Aerones has developed a drone-assisted method for cleaning turbine blades and removing ice.

This means that instead of simply providing damage or maintenance assessments via drones, the company is now able to offer an all-in-one service that uses aerial technology to keep wind farms operating efficiently.

According to the International Energy Agency, minimal icing can cut annual energy production by up to five percent, while severe icing can lead to annual losses of over 20 percent.

Aerones’ service, says the company’s website, “aims to provide an effective, practical and economical alternative for cleaning the wind turbine blades using machinery adapted to the needs [of the task at hand].”

Drones are already widely used to inspect infrastructure across the renewable energy sector, including the use of thermal and LIDAR imaging to keep solar farms running at maximum output.

Just as in the solar industry, maintenance costs tend to be thrown in with the total costs of operations. Current de-icing methods rely on either manned teams or expensive blade technology to prevent ice from forming in the first place.

At best, these methods are expensive, at worst they put maintenance crews in danger. Depending on the size of the blades and the weather conditions, Aerones claims to be able to clean or de-ice 30 blades – usually 10 turbines – in a single day.

Read more: Microsoft and GE team up on wind energy and battery tech

A closer look at Aerones’ industrial drone.

Beyond skydiving

Read more: IoT helps wind power match conventional fuels, says report

The commercial and public safety applications for Aerones’ technology extend far beyond the skydive that first drew attention to the startup.

As well as offering maintenance services to wind farms, Aerones’ drone technology is ideal for industrial cleaning missions and even assisting firefighters.

The company’s 28-propeller drone is tethered to a power and water or de-icing source on the ground, allowing it to stay airborne indefinitely up to 400m and push liquids out at 200 bars of pressure.

Internet of Business says

The full potential of drones in engineering, maintenance, critical infrastructure monitoring, or hazardous environments has become clear over the past two years.

Much traditional maintenance of the built environment is slow, expensive, and often dangerous. For example, it may take weeks of work just to put up scaffolding around a building or bridge in order to inspect it; drones could strip away those time and financial costs.

Wind turbines, along with offshore oil and gas installations, are the low-hanging fruit in the market, because their remote locations mean that aviation authorities are more tolerant of unmanned or remote-controlled systems flying in the area.

Southampton University is one of several UK organisations looking at these applications. Related startups such as Callen-Lenz and FlyLogix are already capitalising on the emerging interest in this field.

The post Aerones creates drone to de-ice and service wind turbines appeared first on Internet of Business.

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The maker of Schlage locks creates $50 million fund for IoT

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Allegion, the $ 2.4 billion company that makes Schlage branded locks, has created a $ 50 million fund to invest in the internet of things. This is Allegion’s first foray into corporate investing as a formal fund, although it has made investments prior to the fund’s creation.

Rob Martens, a futurist at Allegion and president of Allegion Ventures, will lead the three-member investment team. He says the goal of the fund is to find and assist startups trying to develop technology for access and for security and safety. This could be in the home or in office and industrial settings. He’s not exactly excited for startups trying to enter the consumer IoT space at the moment given the pressures they face to support their products over a long period of time and the pressures that can put on profitability.

However, he says many cool technologies aimed at the consumer market might be suited for industrial or enterprise environments. In those cases Allegion could be the right partner to help a startup break into those new markets. “The lion’s share of our business is not on the residential side, it’s on the commercial side,” Martens says. “With our assistance and our experience in the space we might help [a startup] accelerate their product into those commercial markets.”

Historically, corporate venture firms invest at later stages once a product and strategy is fairly clear for a startup. Allegion plans to invest earlier.  Martens is interested in seed, A and perhaps B stages of funding. Martens says he expects to stay involved in investments for five to seven years, noting that Allegion may also choose to expand the fund at such time if it’s needed.  Like many corporate venture funds, Allegion is treating this as way to advance technology it’s interested in seeing, as opposed to focusing solely on returns.

So far the internet of things has proved fertile for corporate-backed venture funds, with Amazon investing in nine companies through its Alexa Fund and insurer American Family Ventures putting money in five startups as of the middle of 2017. Corporate venture firms are also active on the industrial side. Back in 2016, CB Insights noted that five of the top 12 IoT investors were corporate venture funds, including Intel Capital, Qualcomm Ventures and Cisco Ventures.

Many of those corporate investors become buyers of new industrial or smart home technology.  So it’s possible that as Allegion invests in startups helping secure our world or improve the economics of the internet of things, it will find an idea that’s too good to pass up.

For more, check out Martens’  interview on this week’s Internet of Things Podcast.


Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

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SAS creates new global Internet of Things division

SAS, a provider of data analytics software, has created a new global division dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT) to help organisations from manufacturing to retail and healthcare reap the benefits of IoT.

The company’s new IoT division will be led by Jason Mann, who takes up the role of VP IoT. SAS adds the division will ‘develop new partnerships and expand existing ones to bring together best in class technology and expertise’.

Companies in SAS’ remit include GE Transportation, Lockheed Martin and Octo Telematics. The former is enlisting SAS to uncover use patterns through the Internet of Things that keep its trains on track. GE Transportation’s vehicles are given edge devices, managing hundreds of data elements each second, to optimise locomotive operation.

“The IoT is set to transform the way businesses in all industries think, act and sell,” said Peter Pugh-Jones, head of technology at SAS UK & Ireland. “That progress will be founded on data. The value of the IoT is in the information it produces about the world around us.

“SAS’s new IoT division will provide companies with the tools and capabilities they need to analyse and understand that data. With SAS they’ll be able to use the IoT to help make more intelligent decisions, introduce stronger AI and add value everywhere from production to supply chain to marketing and beyond.”

Plenty of organisations are moving towards creating a specific IoT division. One, as sister publication Enterprise CIO previously explored, enterprise mobility management (EMM) software provider MobileIron created a VP IoT role this time last year, filled by Wind River alumnus Santhosh Nair. This move can also relate to revenues; as of this year, Software AG is reporting cloud and IoT revenues separately.

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New Data Shows Solar Energy Creates More Jobs in America Than Any Other Industry

Solar jobs

Solar energy isn’t just a tool to reduce emissions and help slow climate change — it’s a job creator. According to the most recent National Solar Jobs Census published by The Solar Foundation, the industry creates more jobs than any other sector in the U.S.

According to the census, solar energy adds jobs 17 times faster than the overall economy in the United States.

In 2010, there were only 93,000 jobs in solar. The sector has seen a steep rise and six years later 260,077 people were employed in the field.  This means that in 2016 one in every 50 new jobs was in the solar industry, and analysts expect the trend to continue.

Although the figures presented in the census were originally criticized for underestimating the number of workers operating in the solar industry, the Hill now reports that “the Census is widely recognized as the most authoritative and comprehensive analysis of the U.S. solar workforce.”

Dwindling Fossil Fuels

This growth in the solar industry is happening as the fossil fuel industry continues to dwindle. For example, the United Kingdom used to produce a substantial percentage of its energy from coal, but now produces twice as much electricity from renewable sources as coal.

Conversely, in the U.S. President Trump has promised that not only is there a future in the coal industry, but it can drive the creation of a significant number of jobs. The President has recently slammed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells, as part of its plans to hamper the renewable sector and make space for fossil fuels. Although the new measure is expected to cripple the solar sector, according to experts coal jobs are not coming back.

Overall this most recent census, along with the explosive innovation currently driving the industry, strengthens the case for investing in solar energy in the U.S., but it’s undeniable that the new tariffs will be casting a shadow over this positive trend in the coming years.

The post New Data Shows Solar Energy Creates More Jobs in America Than Any Other Industry appeared first on Futurism.


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