OMG Launches New DDS Portal

Colleagues, I’m really excited about the Object Management Group’s (OMG) new DDS Portal. The portal is a collaborative effort between the OMG and key DDS stakeholders, including vendors such as PrismTech and is a replacement for the original portal that had been around for some time and that had started to become very dated. The updated portal has a brand new look and feel, improved structure and more importantly up to date content focused on DDS – the proven Data Connectivity standard for the Internet of Things.

The portal is designed to be used as resource hub for the DDS IoT community and will act a central point for information relating to DDS including: technical overview and benefits of using the DDS standard, uses-cases based on real IoT projects that are using DDS, a resource and vendor directory, DDS IoT news and events, plus links to the latest DDS related standardization work.

It is also important to point out that the plan is to make sure that portal keeps evolving. With support and contributions from both the DDS user and vendor communities we want to ensure that the portal becomes an important vehicle to promote the adoption of DDS in IoT world.

Please take some time to check out the new portal, I really think it’s a big improvement.

A+


Angelo Corsaro, Ph.D., PrismTech CTO, DDS Special Interest Group, Co-chair

PrismTech Data-Centric Architectures, M&A Activity Top Predictions for Internet of Things in 2015

Top10-PredictionsWide-spread adoption of data-centric architectures and rapidly accelerating vendor M&A activity top the list of Internet of Things (IoT) trends likely to occur in 2015, according to a Top 10 forecast released today by PrismTech.

Steve Jennis, SVP, Corporate Development, recognized as one of the “Top 10 Most Influential IoT Executives,” and Angelo Corsaro, PhD, CTO, a widely-known and cited expert in the field of large-scale, real-time distributed systems, intelligent data-sharing platforms and software patterns, compiled the list based on their deep knowledge of IoT users, vendors and key technologies; discussions with numerous thought-leaders and analysts; and through their work with their peers in industry initiatives such as the Industrial Internet Consortium, the OMG and the IPv6 community.

PrismTech’s Predictions for the IoT in 2015
1. Wide-spread adoption of data-centric architectures
2. Rapidly accelerating vendor M&A activity
3. Technology advances in Fog and Edge Computing
4. Growth of Software-Defined Networks
5. Emergence of the OMG’s Data Distribution Service (DDS) as data-sharing standard
6. Significant market growth for industrial system integrators
7. Device OEMs evolving stand-alone products into connected systems
8. Operation technology vendors/OEMs providing open interfaces to data generated by their products
9. Expansion of J2SE on embedded targets
10. Increase in adoption of functional programming languages, especially on server side

Data-Centric Architectures and M&A Activity
In the top spot, the company anticipates there will be a significant increase in the adoption of data-centric architectures as hardware, software and services vendors focus on liberating the data from devices, machines and computers to make it available system-wide, on-demand to support new value generation anywhere in the system.

“The potential of the IoT is all about extracting new value from data, so every ‘Thing’ will become a data source and/or sink at the system-level and systems will increasingly adopt data-centric architectures to support distributed analytics and enhanced control both at the edge and in the cloud,” said Jennis.

A robust M&A environment during 2015 also is predicted. As the IoT is centered around system-level solutions, data-centric architectures and generating new levels of business value from distributed data analytics, Jennis explained that the industry  should expect acceleration in vendor consolidation as hardware vendors move ‘up the stack’ from devices into systems software, operational OEMs acquire IT skills and integration technologies, large software vendors fill their IoT platform gaps with acquisitions, and systems integrators acquire IoT skills.

Fog/Edge, SDN and DDS
The company, which was recently recognized by Silicon Valley strategists Sand Hill Group as a top “IoT Needle Mover,” also highlighted technology advances in Fog and Edge Computing, growth of Software-Defined Networks, and the emergence of the OMG’s Data Distribution Service (DDS), the leading standard for Industrial IoT systems in particular.

Fog and Edge computing strategies will continue to proliferate because of their ability to scale, reduce communication needs and improve reactivity in IoT systems Dr, Corsaro explained. He also added that Software-Defined Network is a hot topic for data centers and it is expected to make significant in-roads next year and play a key role in the Industrial IoT due to its ability to improve scalability and facilitate the management of complex QoS and SLAs.

Dr. Corsaro also highlighted the significance of DDS.

“DDS is the only standard that holistically addresses IoT requirements for device-to-device and device-to-cloud communications,” said Dr. Corsaro. “This technology has the potential to become the fabric of the Industrial and Consumer IoT.”

Rounding out the Top 10
No. 6.  2015 will be a great year for industrial system integrators as they offer the end-to-end solutions that will be required for any multi-vendor IoT system. The IoT represents a significant opportunity for integrators.

No. 7.  Device OEMs will quickly evolve their stand-alone products into connected systems and will start to aggressively market these system solutions. Unconnected products will quickly become uncompetitive and OEMs not investing in connected products today will become clear laggards by the end of 2015.

No. 8.  Leading operation technology vendors are not only connecting their own products together, but they are building-in seamless data-sharing with IT environments and providing open data access to other vendors’ systems. In 2015, these leaders will start to competitively force all their competitors and smaller OEMs to provide open interfaces to the data generated by their products.

No. 9. While the JVM will continue to be a dominant server-side platform for the IoT, 2015 will witness a constant expansion of J2SE on embedded targets. In the end, Java—a technology that was originally developed for embedded systems—will finally gain market traction in the embedded space as a result of its performance, security and time-to-market capabilities.

No. 10. Functional programming languages will continue to grow in popularity and adoption, especially on the server side. Architects will start realizing the value provided by immutability and the functional approach when dealing with the high-throughput, highly concurrent and distributed data-centric applications found in the IoT.

OMG’s Data Distribution Service: the Internet of Things Fabric

Two distinct classifications for the Internet of Things (IoT) have sharply started to emerge — the Industrial IoT and Consumer IoT. Although there are differences in the environments for which they’re best suited, the Industrial IoT (IIoT) and Consumer IoT (CIoT) share a basic need. Both derive their true value from ubiquitous information availability, and consequently, the decisions that can be made from it.

A great example is a Smart City application, such as the Connected Boulevard initiative in Nice, France, where real-time access of information such as parking and traffic, street lighting, waste disposal and environmental quality is enabling smarter and faster decisions. The ubiquitous availability of data provides better optimization of the various city management functions. Likewise, in a Smart Grid application, real-time access to energy production and demand can help match production to demand, improve energy trading strategies, and allow micro-power generators to decide whether to sell or store their energy surplus.

As ubiquitous, timely and efficient information availability is key in IIoT and CIoT environments, the technical (and non-technical) community has been engaging in passionate online discussions around the technologies that can best provide the right data-sharing platform — the fabric — to deliver the right data to the right place at the right time. Across the various discussions and augmentations, a common theme has emerged: the importance of a standards-based solution to ensure openness and interoperability across the variety of IIoT and CIoT environments.

In this post, I’ll analyze the requirements posed by the variety of data-sharing protocols found in a generic IoT system and then describe how the OMG Data Distribution Service standard is the best answer to serve as the fabric for IoT.

IoT Data-Sharing Requirements

IIoT and CIoT systems have very articulate data-sharing requirements. As such, these requirements have to be addressed holistically as to keep the complexity of developing and deploying these systems low and the efficiency of running them high.

There are three standard classifications to represent the different data-sharing characteristics of IoT systems.

Device-2-Device. Device-2-Device (D2D) communication is required in several different use cases. This communication pattern is prevalent on edge systems such as Industrial Plants and Vehicles. That said, it is slowly being exploited in more use cases. The latest notable example is FireChat, the infrastructure-less peer-to-peer chat. D2D is facilitated by broker-less peer-to-peer infrastructures that facilitate deployment, foster fault-tolerant execution, and can provide for more performance-sensitive applications, low-latency and high-throughput data-sharing.

Device-2-Cloud. Devices and sub-systems interact with cloud-based services and applications for mediating data-sharing and data collection. Device-2-Cloud (D2C) communications can feature vastly different needs and requirements based on the application and environment and the type of data that needs to be shared. For instance a remote surgery application has far more stringent temporal requirements than a smart city waste disposal application. At the same time, however, a smart city application may have more stringent requirements with respect to efficient network and energy management of devices. Depending on the use case and environment, D2C communication needs to be able to support high-throughput and low-latency data exchanges as well as operation over bandwidth constrained links. An additional key is the ability of the D2C communication to support intermittent connectivity and variable latency links.

Cloud-2-Cloud. Currently there are few systems being deployed across multiple IaaS instances or multiple IaaS regions (eg deployed across EC2 EU and US regions), however, it is becoming clear that it will be increasingly important to seamlessly and efficiently exchange data across clouds. For these applications, the data-sharing technology needs to support high throughput and low per/message overhead in order to keep the per-message cost under control.

In addition to the data-sharing patterns references above, there are a number of crosscutting concerns that a data distribution technology needs to support, including platform independence, eg the ability to run on embedded, mobile, enterprise and cloud apps and security.

OMG’s Data Distribution Service — the IoT Fabric

The Data Distribution Service (DDS) is an Object Management Group standard for ubiquitous, efficient, timely and secure data-sharing, independent from the hardware and the software platform. DDS implementations are available today for sharing data across mobile, embedded, enterprise, cloud and web applications. DDS defines a wire protocol that allows for interoperability among multiple vendor implementations as well as an API that allows applications to be easily ported across vendor products. The standard requires implementation to be fully distributed and broker-less, meaning that DDS applications communicate without any mediation, yet when useful, DDS communication can be transparently brokered.

The basic abstraction at the foundation of DDS is the Topic. A Topic captures the information to be shared along with the Quality of Service (QoS) associated with it — this makes it possible to control the functional and non-functional properties of data-sharing. DDS provides a rich set of QoS policies that allow for the control of local resource usage, network utilization, traffic differentiation, as well as data availability for late joiners. In DDS, the production of data is performed through Data Writers while consumption is through Data Readers. For a given topic, data readers can further refine the information received through content as well as temporal filers. DDS is also equipped with a dynamic discovery service that allows applications to dynamically discover the information available in the system and match the relevant sources.

The DDS Security standard provides an extensible framework for dealing with authentication, access control, logging and encryption. As an example, you may provide certain applications with rights for reading only certain topics, while other application for reading as well as writing and perhaps creating new topics. The rules that define access rights are very flexible and allow for very granular control over what applications are allowed. For securing communication, DDS Security takes an approach similar to that taken by SRTP, thus (1) allowing the use of multicast when possible, and (2) avoiding the in-line key re-negotiation issues by TLS/DTLS.

Applying the DDS Fabric

Among the standards that have been identified as relevant to IoT applications, DDS is the one that stands out with respect to the breadth and depth of coverage of data-sharing requirements. This does not come as a surprise to DDS aficionados, yet, those not familiar with the technology are astonished to learn of its many deployments in IoT systems. As you read below, you’ll see what makes DDS so special.

Device-2-Device. DDS provides a very efficient and scalable platform for D2D communication. DDS implementation can be scaled down to deeply embedded devices or up to high-end multi-core machines. In regard to efficiency, a DDS implementation can have latency as low as ~30usec on Gbps Ethernet networks and throughput of several million messages per second. At the same time, DDS has a binary and efficient wire-protocol that makes it a viable solution in network constrained environments. The broker-less and peer-to-peer nature of DDS makes it ideal for D2D communication, and at the same time, the ability to transparently broker DDS communication — especially when devices communicate through multicast — eases the integration of subsystems into IoT systems.

Device-2-Cloud. DDS supports multiple transport protocols, such as UDP and TCP, and when available takes advantage of multicast (support for Source Specific Multicast is available through vendor extensions and will soon be included in the standard). The support for UDP/IP is extremely beneficial for applications that deal with interactive, soft real-time data for which TCP/IP would be introducing either too much overhead or head-of-line blocking issues. For deployments that can’t take advantage of UDP/IP, DDS alleviates some of the challenges introduced by TCP/IP vis-a-vis head-of-line blocking. This is achieved through its support for traffic differentiation and prioritization along with selective down-sampling. Independent of the transport used, DDS supports three types of reliability: best effort, last value reliability and reliability. Of these three, only the latter behaves like “TCP/IP reliability,” the others allow DDS to drop samples to ensure that stale data does not delay new data.

The efficient wire-protocol, combined with the rich transport and reliability semantics support, make DDS an excellent choice for sharing both periodic data such as telemetry as well as data requiring high reliability. In addition, the built-in support for content filtering ensures data is only sent if there are consumers that share the same interest and whose filter match the data being produced.

Cloud-2-Cloud. The high throughput and low latency delivered by DDS makes it a perfect choice for data-sharing across the big pipes connecting different data centers.

In summary, DDS is the standard that better addresses the most compelling data-sharing requirements presented by Industrial and Consumer IoT applications. DDS based platforms, such as PrismTech’s Vortex, address mobile, embedded, web, enterprise and cloud applications along with cloud messaging implementations, and allow for scaling and integration of devices and sub-systems at an Internet scale. Solutions based on DDS are deployed today in Smart Cities, Smart Grids, Smart Transportation, Finance and Medical environments.

If you want to learn more about DDS check this tutorial or the many educational slides freely available on SlideShare.

Connected Boulevard — It’s What Makes Nice, France a Smart City

Known as the capital of the French Riviera, the city of Nice, France, is many things. It’s beautiful, it’s cosmopolitan and it’s vibrant. But it’s also something else — it’s possibly the smartest city in the world.

Among spectacular panoramic views, the rich culture, and all the shopping and nightlife opportunities is an underlying connectivity. It’s actually an intelligent data-sharing infrastructure that is enhancing the city’s management capabilities and is making daily life more efficient, enjoyable and easier for the more than 300,000 residents that call Nice home and the more than 10 million tourists who visit each year. It’s what makes this city smart… really smart.Chart for Angelo's Blog Post

Nice has been gaining much attention lately thanks to a series of innovative projects aimed at preserving the surrounding environment and enhancing quality of life through creative use of technology. Connected Boulevard is a great example of this.

The city launched the Connected Boulevard — an open and extensible smart city platform — as a way to continue to attract visitors while maintaining a high quality of life for its citizens. Connected Boulevard is used to manage and optimize all aspects of city management, including parking and traffic, street lighting, waste disposal and environmental quality.

A number of companies played a key role in the launch of Connected Boulevard, including Industrial Internet Consortium members Cisco, which is providing its Wi-Fi network, and PrismTech, which is providing its intelligent data-sharing platform, Vortex (based on the Object Management Group’s Data Distribution Service standard) at the core of the Connected Boulevard environment for making relevant data ubiquitously available.

Architecture Maximizes Extensibility and Minimizes Maintenance Costs

Think Global, an alliance of innovative start-ups and large companies, designed the Connected Boulevard architecture with an eye toward maximizing extensibility and minimizing maintenance costs. In a smart city environment, the main costs typically come from system maintenance, rather than initial development and launch efforts. A big part of these maintenance costs come from the replacement of sensor batteries. To help reduce these operating costs and maximize battery life, the Connected Boulevard project team made an interesting and forward thinking move — one which was in direct contrast with some of the latest thinking by those in the smart device and edge computing community.

Connected Boulevard relies on “dumb” sensors. These sensors typically are simply measuring physical properties such as temperature and humidity, magnetic field intensity, and luminosity. Once collected, these measurements are sent to signal processing algorithms within a cloud, where the data is then “understood” and acted upon. In the Connected Boulevard, magnetic field variation is used to detect parked cars, temperature and humidity levels are used to determine when to activate sprinklers, luminosity and motion detection are used to control street lighting.

The sensors in the Connected Boulevard rely on low power protocols to communicate with aggregators that are installed throughout the road network. Powered by the power line, the aggregators use Vortex to convoy the data into an Amazon EC2 cloud. The data is than analyzed by a series of analytics functions based on the Esper CEP platform. Finally, relevant information, statistics and insight gained through the data analysis are made available wherever it is needed within this connected ecosystem.

The applications within Connected Boulevard use caching features to maintain in-memory, a window of data over which real-time analytics are performed. The results of these analytics can be shared with applications throughout the overall system, where decisions are then made, such as what actions should take place. For example, the Nice City Pass application checks for free parking places and can also be used to reserve them. If a car is occupying a parking space that the driver has not paid for, a notification is sent to the police to ensure that the violating driver is fined.

Significant Benefits

After the initial installation of Connected Boulevard a few years ago, traffic congestion was reduced by 30 percent, parking incomes increased by 35 percent and air pollution has been reduced by 25 percent. It’s also anticipated that savings on street lighting will be at least 20 percent, but possibly as high as 80 percent. These are real, tangible results… and are clear examples of a smart city at work.

There’s more to securing the IoT than you’re aware of

Many would argue that the consumer and internet of Things (IoT) are improving the quality of our lives and the environment by reducing pollution and augmenting productivity and efficiency. For instance, think of somebody living in Nice, France (see my blog on smart cities) who has experienced – thanks to the smart parking system – a reduction of more than 30 minutes in the time needed to park downtown. This not only improves this person’s overall experience, it also reduces the CO2 emissions caused by the car being driven around in search of a parking spot. In another example, consider smart refrigerators. These appliances can keep track of the food they hold, warn you about expiration dates, suggest recipes, and help with the shopping list. Who wouldn’t want that? But in this wonderful connected world, all that glitters is not gold.

Several industry reports have highlighted a series of security holes. The recent HP Fortify study on IoT security notes that 70 percent of the devices don’t use transport security, thus sending unencrypted information over the Internet! In addition, 90 percent of the devices collected some form of personal information. And a relatively high number of devices use trivial passwords, like 1234. Imagine how this lack of security can turn a digital paradise into hell if somebody, other than you, gained control of your appliances.

Let’s turn our attention from the consumer IoT to the industrial IoT. Here, security is even more important as the devices involved aren’t simple appliances but power grids, aircraft engines, city lightning, sewers, etc. Thus, the impact of a security hole can be far more devastating than that of somebody hacking your refrigerator.

Many IoT security reports argue that a big part of the security issues can be solved by properly applying well-known security principles and techniques, such as using transport encryption, robust passwords, supporting secure firmware and OS upgrades, avoiding cross-scripting attach, etc. Yet most of these reports focus on securing the interaction between a device and a and don’t address the problem of data security in general.

If we consider a more sophisticated IoT application, such as smart cities or smart grids, we quickly realize that access to information needs to be properly regulated. For instance, it may be acceptable to allow everyone to learn about the level of production of a given electric power generator. On the other hand, it’s necessary to allow only specific users access to set the production target. Likewise, for privacy reasons, you may be happy that the position of your car is known when it gets stolen.

Clearly, both the consumer and industrial IoTs need more than the ability to secure access and pipes through which the data flows. It’s essential for these systems to properly address data security. Yet, today few IoT applications are providing support for data security in the form of controlled access. The main reason being the lack of support from the infrastructure they rely on.

IoT systems interested in having a full security solution, including access control on data flows, should look at platforms based on data distribution service (DDS). DDS has recently been equipped with a security standard that, along with introducing transport security, allows to control access to data. PrismTech’s DDS-based Vortex, for instance, supports authentication and transport security as well as Topic-based access control to handle allowed operations. This includes create, read, update, and delete operations that an application can perform on a given kind of information.

The figure shows a hypothetical system in which different users are allowed different access rights on the various kinds of information. Arthur Dent can read and write the topic A and only read the topic B, while Zaphod Beeblebrox can read and write any kind of information. Poor Marvin can read everything and write nothing.

Clearly, security can’t be an afterthought in IoT applications as the implications can be severe. Furthermore, IoT applications have to think beyond basic transport security and start to reason about data access control. The OMG DDS as a data sharing standard provides a suitable infrastructure for tackling all distribution and security aspects required by IoT applications.

Data-Centric IoT Messaging – a Look at Key DDS Characteristics

I have been reading the latest feature article by Bryon Moyer in the Electronic Engineering Journal titled “Data-Centric IoT Messaging – a Look at Key DDS Characteristics“.

The article features PrismTech’s Vortex product suite and the DDS standard. It provides a good overview of the data-centric and message-centric paradigm for the Internet of Things (IoT). It also digs deeper into how data and communication can work in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The smartest city in the world

In my last post, I explained how the OMG’s Data Distribution Service standard provides the ideal data-sharing platform for Internet of Things and Industrial Internet applications. In this post, considering that it is time for summer vacations, I decided to take you on a voyage in the smartest city of the world: Nice, France.

Besides being placed on the heart of the beautiful Côte d’Azur (a.k.a the French Riviera) between Monaco and Cannes, Nice has recently gained media attention thanks to a series of innovative projects aimed at preserving the environment and improving the quality of life through creative use of technology. In particular, Connected Boulevard, the project I’ll describe in this post, targets and enhances city management capabilities.

To give you some context, Nice attracts approximately 10 million visitors a year and in 2013 it was named as one of the best European destinations. To continue to attract visitors and improve the living experience of its citizens, the city launched the Connected Boulevard project as a way to develop an open and extensible platform that could be used to manage and optimize all aspects of city management, such as parking and traffic, street lighting, waste disposal, and environmental quality. DDS (specifically PrismTech‘s Vortex platform) was used at the core of the Connected Boulevard platform for making relevant data ubiquitously available. But before telling you how DDS was used, let me explain the architecture of the system.

Connected Boulevard architecture

The Connected Boulevard architecture designed by the ThinkGlobal Team aims at maximizing extensibility and minimizing maintenance costs. As for any long-lived system, the main cost comes from the system maintenance as opposed to its initial development. In smart city applications, one of the main sources of maintenance costs is the replacement of batteries. Thus, to reduce the operating costs and maximize the battery lifespan, the Connected Boulevard project took a decision that was in contrast with the trend promoted by the many supporters of smart devices and edge computing. The sensors used throughout the Connected Boulevard project are quite “dumb.” In most cases, they simply measure physical properties such as temperature and humidity, magnetic field intensity, and luminosity. These measurements are then collected and elaborated by sophisticated algorithms within a cloud, where the data is then “understood” and acted upon. For instance, the variation of magnetic field is used to detect parked cars; temperature and humidity are used to decide when to activate sprinklers; luminosity, sometime used in conjunction with motion detection, is used to control street lighting.

As shown in the figure below, sensors use low power protocols to communicate with aggregators that are installed throughout the roads. The aggregators, powered by the power line, use DDS to share the collected data. Through DDS, collected data is made available wherever required. Recall that DDS is equipped with a dynamic discovery protocol that matches new interests dynamically and establishes appropriate communication paths. Consumers of this sensor data include applications running on an infrastructure that perform analytics.

These applications use DDS’s caching features to maintain in-memory, a window of data over which they perform real-time analytics. The result of analytics is shared through DDS with applications that have to decide what to do, as well as with other applications that are interested in receiving it – such as the mobile applications including the Nice City Pass, used to check free parking places as well as to reserve them. As an example, if a parking place is occupied by a car and that parking place is not paid for, a notification is sent to the traffic police to ensure that the violating car is fined. Finally, it is important to remark that all data is collected, owned, and managed by the city of Nice.

Measurable benefits

Nice’s Connected Boulevard has been operating for nearly two years and – besides being a very cool project from a technology perspective – it has had a measurable positive impact on the city. After its initial installation, traffic congestion was reduced by 30 percent, parking income improved by 35 percent, and air pollution reduced by 25 percent. In addition, the forecasted saving on street lighting is 20-80 percent, depending on the type of roads and their lighting constraints.

In conclusion, regardless of the hype and the fad that at times is glazed around the Internet of Things and Industrial Internet, the reality is that these systems are being built and are delivering measurable benefits. In addition, DDS is a standard that has proven its applicability and value on key Internet of Things and Industrial Internet applications, of which the Nice smart city infrastructure is one example.