Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Brian Lavallée, Hovhannes Avoyan, Peter Silva, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: IoT Expo, Java, Wireless, Linux, Cloud Expo, SDN Journal

IoT Expo: Article

IoT and M2M Cloud Controlled Programmable Hardware

I must admit that I find the whole concept of cloud controlled programmable hardware very exciting

My friend and Cognizant colleague the ever opinionated Peter Rogers shares more of insights into the world of IoT (Internet of Things) geekdom and how it really works under-the-covers.
__________

Facebook invested more cash this week when they acquired one of my favourite Kickstarter projects Oculus VR for a seemingly ridiculous $2b. The VR (virtual reality) headset was the best in class technology (in its price range) and had just added a head-tracking software solution to reduce motion sickness. Of course it wasn't just the VR headset that Facebook acquired, but the CTO of Oculus VR, who is no other than the legendary game creator John Carmack.

There is every indication that Facebook will let Oculus VR do their own thing but I do worry about the lack of support from game developers, so John Carmack needs to rally the forces. We all agree there is money in wearable technologies in 2014, right? I actually classed virtual reality headsets as my favourite form of wearable technology, but I am a gamer at heart and spent a lot of time playing VR games in the local arcades as a teenager/adult. With the problems of motion sickness being alleviated and fast refresh rates then we can all look forward to recreating scenes from Disclosure very soon and it proves this is happening now.

IFTTT
I was recently looking into IFTTT (if this then that) which is a service that lets you create powerful connections of Internet services. Channels are the basic representation of online services (Facebook, LinkedIn, Evernote, etc.). Triggers are actions that place on a channel, such as "I check in on Foursquare" or "I am tagged in a ridiculous picture of the office party on Facebook". Actions are the tasks to perform such as ‘send me a text message to warm me of photos I am tagged in on Facebook".  Recipes are therefore the final ‘if this than that' statement which combines triggers on channels with actions to perform. You can have personal recipes, one example of such being a text message warning system for photos that you are tagged in on Facebook within days of an office party.

I didn't realise until recently that some of the non-enterprise MBaaS (mobile backend as a service) systems offer a similar IFTTT construct. If we look at Firebase which is probably more of a real-time connectivity platform than a MBaaS, but has come into the spotlight after a strong partnership with Famo.us. Firebase offers hooks to inject conflict resolution logic into the proceedings. Likewise, Telerik  allows you to inject custom JavaScript code to be executed before/after CRUD (create/read/update/delete) operations on data items. This offers a simpler alternative than a Node/GAE service tier and with the merging of API Gateways and Enterprise MBaaS on the horizon (a topic for a later Blog) then I have a strong feeling we will see this level of configuration-programmatic control in the near future, especially in the wearable space.

Tessel
Tessel start with asking a great question, "How do you teach web developers about hardware?" and it is a question I have long been pondering from a resourcing perspective. The answer they give is fantastic, "You don't. You teach hardware about web developers". You use familiar web development language such as JavaScript and Node to make programming hardware a much higher level construct.

Tessel is a micro-controller that runs Embedded JavaScript. The guys at Tessel seem to think that JavaScript is the perfect embedded language and I am inclined to agree. Tessel are targeting the affordable embedded processor range of Cortex-M0 to Cortex-M4 which are the lower end of the performance spectrum but come in at the $4@1k range. The options are to either run a JavaScript VM (which comes in at around 10Mb of memory) or run a Lua VM (which is highly portable and comes in at around 30K). I was curious what Embedded JavaScript actually was and I guess we will see quite a few definitions of cut down versions of the ECMAScript but Tessel have a unique take on all this. Originally on a local computer there would be a JavaScript file and a g-zipped Lua file which was then sent to a Tessel micro-controller which ran a Lua interpreter. To improve performance they have now moved to having a JavaScript file on the local computer and then on the actual Tessel they will compile JavaScript to Lua bytecode and run this through a LuaJIT (just in time compiler) based custom RTOS.

I remember all of the MEAPs (mobile enterprise application platforms) used to support Lua and soon everyone quickly moved away to the more familiar JavaScript language. Corona was the first to see an exodus of game developers due to the closed nature of the solution. Now in the MCAP space everyone is moving away from JavaScript VMs to cross-transpiled / cross-compiled JavaScript solutions (Hyperloop, Cocoon, Intel XDK). This means you get to write in JavaScript but you end up with native code which is a win-win - unless you hate JavaScript. The future is that it will become feasible to embed in every product a micro-controller powerful enough to run a high level language but for now JavaScript (or Embedded JavaScript as it will be called) seems to be the language of choice.

Firmata
I later discovered trailr which allows you to build and deploy Arduino ‘environment-aware' sketches over WebSockets. This basically means that you can effectively reprogram the hardware by sending an environment configuration over the air. This led me onto Firmata, which is a generic protocol for communicating with microcontrollers from software on a host computer. It is intended to work with any host computer software package. Basically, this firmware establishes a protocol for talking to the Arduino from the host software. The aim is to allow people to completely control the Arduino from software on the host computer. Firmata is therefore a simple Arduino sketch that allows you to control all of the pins on the micro-controller dynamically without loading a new program on the board every time you want to do something.

SkyNet and Cloud Programmable Hardware
I have to mention SkyNet once again after they amazed me by lighting up their office with Phillips Hue light bulbs that change colour (red or green) as their stock price fluctuates (using the Yahoo Stock Market API). You can see the video here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNiHQXmawys. SkyNet have firmware that allows an Arduino to automatically connect to SkyNet and await Firmata instructions. SkyNet then becomes the compute cloud for controlling devices and collecting sensor data without CPUs or custom device apps.

As Chris from SkyNet says, "You could literally duct-tape an Arduino, MicroArduino (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/microduino/microduino-arduino-in-your-pocket-small-stackable), Spark device (https://www.spark.io/), or RFduino (http://www.rfduino.com/) to a light pole with a small rechargeable battery and solar cell.  It connects to SkyNet allowing you to stream sensor data from connected sensors or you could turn on pins for lights, relays, motors, etc. via SkyNet messages. SkyNet messages could be sent from people all around the world."

I must admit that I find the whole concept of Cloud controlled programmable hardware very exciting.


*************************************************************

Kevin Benedict Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant View my profile on LinkedIn Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict Browse the Mobile Solution Directory Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.

Cloud Expo Latest Stories
14th International Cloud Expo, held on June 10–12, 2014 at the Javits Center in New York City, featured three content-packed days with a rich array of sessions about the business and technical value of cloud computing, Internet of Things, Big Data, and DevOps led by exceptional speakers from every sector of the IT ecosystem. The Cloud Expo series is the fastest-growing Enterprise IT event in the past 10 years, devoted to every aspect of delivering massively scalable enterprise IT as a service.
Hardware will never be more valuable than on the day it hits your loading dock. Each day new servers are not deployed to production the business is losing money. While Moore’s Law is typically cited to explain the exponential density growth of chips, a critical consequence of this is rapid depreciation of servers. The hardware for clustered systems (e.g., Hadoop, OpenStack) tends to be significant capital expenses. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mason Katz, CTO and co-founder of StackIQ, to discuss how infrastructure teams should be aware of the capitalization and depreciation model of these expenses to fully understand when and where automation is critical.
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects – scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e., the largest single medical system in the United States.
In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Hinkle, Senior Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix Systems Inc., will provide overview of the open source software that can be used to deploy and manage a cloud computing environment. He will include information on storage, networking(e.g., OpenDaylight) and compute virtualization (Xen, KVM, LXC) and the orchestration(Apache CloudStack, OpenStack) of the three to build their own cloud services. Speaker Bio: Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Source Solutions, at Citrix Systems Inc. He joined Citrix as a result of their July 2011 acquisition of Cloud.com where he was their Vice President of Community. He is currently responsible for Citrix open source efforts around the open source cloud computing platform, Apache CloudStack and the Xen Hypervisor. Previously he was the VP of Community at Zenoss Inc., a producer of the open source application, server, and network management software, where he grew the Zenoss Core project to over 10...
Most of today’s hardware manufacturers are building servers with at least one SATA Port, but not every systems engineer utilizes them. This is considered a loss in the game of maximizing potential storage space in a fixed unit. The SATADOM Series was created by Innodisk as a high-performance, small form factor boot drive with low power consumption to be plugged into the unused SATA port on your server board as an alternative to hard drive or USB boot-up. Built for 1U systems, this powerful device is smaller than a one dollar coin, and frees up otherwise dead space on your motherboard. To meet the requirements of tomorrow’s cloud hardware, Innodisk invested internal R&D resources to develop our SATA III series of products. The SATA III SATADOM boasts 500/180MBs R/W Speeds respectively, or double R/W Speed of SATA II products.
As more applications and services move "to the cloud" (public or on-premise) cloud environments are increasingly adopting and building out traditional enterprise features. This in turn is enabling and encouraging cloud adoption from enterprise users. In many ways the definition is blurring as features like continuous operation, geo-distribution or on-demand capacity become the norm. NuoDB is involved in both building enterprise software and using enterprise cloud capabilities. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Proctor, CTO at NuoDB, Inc., will discuss the experiences from building, deploying and using enterprise services and suggest some ways to approach moving enterprise applications into a cloud model.
Until recently, many organizations required specialized departments to perform mapping and geospatial analysis, and they used Esri on-premise solutions for that work. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dave Peters, author of the Esri Press book Building a GIS, System Architecture Design Strategies for Managers, will discuss how Esri has successfully included the cloud as a fully integrated SaaS expansion of the ArcGIS mapping platform. Organizations that have incorporated Esri cloud-based applications and content within their business models are reaping huge benefits by directly leveraging cloud-based mapping and analysis capabilities within their existing enterprise investments. The ArcGIS mapping platform includes cloud-based content management and information resources to more widely, efficiently, and affordably deliver real-time actionable information and analysis capabilities to your organization.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization’s assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Derek Tumulak, Vice President of Product Management at Vormetric, will discuss how to address data security in cloud and Big Data environments so that your organization isn’t next week’s data breach headline.
The cloud is everywhere and growing, and with it SaaS has become an accepted means for software delivery. SaaS is more than just a technology, it is a thriving business model estimated to be worth around $53 billion dollars by 2015, according to IDC. The question is – how do you build and scale a profitable SaaS business model? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jason Cumberland, Vice President, SaaS Solutions at Dimension Data, will give the audience an understanding of common mistakes businesses make when transitioning to SaaS; how to avoid them; and how to build a profitable and scalable SaaS business.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia, the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between personal and professional social, mobile and cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing collaboration and infrastructure solutions to the cloud.
Cloud computing started a technology revolution; now DevOps is driving that revolution forward. By enabling new approaches to service delivery, cloud and DevOps together are delivering even greater speed, agility, and efficiency. No wonder leading innovators are adopting DevOps and cloud together! In his session at DevOps Summit, Andi Mann, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, will explore the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, war stories, case studies, and recommendations.
Enterprises require the performance, agility and on-demand access of the public cloud, and the management, security and compatibility of the private cloud. The solution? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Simone Brunozzi, VP and Chief Technologist(global role) for VMware, will explore how to unlock the power of the hybrid cloud and the steps to get there. He'll discuss the challenges that conventional approaches to both public and private cloud computing, and outline the tough decisions that must be made to accelerate the journey to the hybrid cloud. As part of the transition, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service model will enable enterprise IT to build services beyond their data center while owning what gets moved, when to move it, and for how long. IT can then move forward on what matters most to the organization that it supports – availability, agility and efficiency.
Every healthy ecosystem is diverse. This is especially true in cloud ecosystems, where portability and interoperability are more important than old enterprise models of proprietary ownership. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Baker, Server Product Manager at Canonical/Ubuntu, will discuss how single vendors used to take the lead in creating and delivering technology, but in a cloud economy, where users want tools of their preference, when and where they need them, it makes no sense.