Reflections on DDS at Undersea Defense Technology (UDT)

I’m writing this blog tonight whilst traveling home from exhibiting at the Undersea Defense Technology (UDT) conference in Bremen, Germany with my PrismTech colleagues Peter Steele and Gregg Shenton.

It’s always good to catch up with the latest innovations and tech in the naval and subsea industry – and of course the major suppliers were all in attendance.  A lot of interesting things were going on.

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UDT is a particularly appropriate event for PrismTech.  We have many customers in this industry, with DDS (the Data Distribution Service) already being widely applied and often even mandated by the standards bodies and organizations.  Our leading DDS implementation, Vortex OpenSplice has many successful naval deployments and a long history in this market.  Many people will know how its early version was initially designed to address the specific problem of moving data around a complex, real time, combat management system.  The middleware aspect was standardized to form the DDS specification, which of course addresses a lot of those problems – namely delivering time critical data to the applications that need it in an efficient, fault tolerant and scalable manner.

The benefits of DDS, though, are perhaps quite abstract, and for non-software developers probably initially difficult to appreciate.  Because of that, we wanted to provide a visual demonstration at the event that would be interesting for the passer-by yet allow them to relate to what the technology can provide.

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We came up with a mini simulation of a combat system whereby data from the raw environment is captured, processed and delivered to where needed for further analysis.  Our demo used a webcam to capture the raw environment – which in real terms could represent a radar, sonar or video system.  The demo then performed some local analysis, in our case some image processing to track specific colours as they move across the camera.  We had some different colored balls that people were encouraged to wave around (or if brave, juggle) in front of the webcam.  These moving colours were tracked, with their positions published into DDS.  We had another computer which subscribed to that data and presented it to a would-be operator on a mocked-up Blue Force Tracking system, i.e. naval symbols on a sea chart.  We were simulating how position and routes of other vessels and obstacles could be tracked within a networked system in real time.  Of course, DDS is even more valuable when you have to deliver the data to potentially hundreds of machines that might exist within a ship or vessel but there is only so much you can show on a stand!  Still, people appreciated the demo and we had some very interesting discussions.

On reflection, those discussions were generally centred around two key areas.  Firstly, how companies can simplify and optimize their own internal data communication systems.  They usually have some existing solution to deliver data around the network but they are often quite legacy and difficult to extend, enhance or deploy to different scenarios.  DDS is great for that purpose.  Secondly, we spoke about easy integration with other vendors in the naval supply chain.  DDS has strong yet evolvable typing that allows for the clear definition of what data is and represents, while also providing an interoperable wire protocol so applications can automatically discover each other and share data with little integration effort.

OT/IT Connectivity with Vortex Edge Connect

One of the main challenges facing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) community is connecting operational or field systems, comprised of devices and other data sources utilizing a diverse range of protocols with higher level Internet of Things (IoT) systems. This is where Vortex Edge Connect comes in.

Vortex Edge Connect ingests data from industrial devices such as PLCs, PAC, RTUs, DAQs, sensors, actuators, etc. using a range of Operational Technology (OT) protocols. This ingested data is then converted into a normalized in-memory data model which enables this data to be shared with other higher level systems such as SCADA systems, analytics engines, ERP, MES, etc.

Due to the Vortex Edge Connects innovative design, it is highly scalable and can support 1-to-1, 1-to-many, or many-to-many data connection models. Whether you’re in a Linux or Windows environment, Vortex Edge Connect is platform and operating system independent, enabling you to deploy with ease and peace of mind for expansion and integration.

For more information on Vortex Edge Connect, please visit our website.

Getting Started with Vortex OpenSplice Configurator Tutorial

Revisit the features of Vortex OpenSplice Configurator on a step-by-step tutorial. The Configurator is a tool that allows you to parse and set all the XML data properly.

The Vortex OpenSplice Configurator includes a rich online guide describing Vortex OpenSplice Configuration options as well as providing context-sensitive help and parameter validation.

Vortex is available to evaluate FREE, click here to download.

Getting Started Tutorial with Vortex OpenSplice Tester Video

In this tutorial video presented by Nate Wieselquist, you can learn about how to get started using the Vortex OpenSplice Tester tool in order to help you automate the process of testing and debugging your DDS system. Both passive and active benefits of the Vortex OpenSplice Tester tool are covered in this video as well as an example walkthrough.

MathWorks MATLAB and Simulink with Vortex OpenSplice DDS Tutorial

To coincide with the release of PrismTech’s Vortex OpenSplice 6.8, we have put together a series of videos to show how simple using Vortex OpenSplice DDS in MATLAB and Simulink is.

Presented by Paul Elder, these videos walk you through everything you’ll need to get up and running with Vortex: from installation, right through to building a model.

 

PrismTech Predicts Edge Computing, Next Generation Smart Gateways will Come of Age to Enable the Industrial Internet of Things in 2017

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Mainstream adoption of edge computing and the advent of second-generation smart gateways are among PrismTech’s top predictions for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in 2017.

Steve Jennis, SVP and Head of Global Marketing for ADLINK and PrismTech, compiled the list based on his extensive knowledge of IIoT users, vendors and technologies, as well as through his collaboration with peers in industry initiatives such as the OpenFog Consortium, the Edge Computing Consortium, Open Edge Computing, the Industrial Internet Consortium® and the Object Management Group®.

Jennis predicts that:

  1. Edge computing will become a mainstream term for IIoT systems.
  2. Edge computing will be recognized as the solution to fixing the shortcomings of M2M for IIoT (latency, resilience, cost, peer-to-peer, connectivity, security, etc.).
  3. Real-time (edge) analytics and IT/OT security become two of the key drivers for new IIoT platform/infrastructure deployments.
  4. IT departments will exert more and more influence over the requirements for OT systems connected to corporate IT systems or the Internet.
  5. The Edge will become the vendor battleground in IIoT markets between traditional CT, IT and OT vendors.
  6. Users will move from tactical to strategic IIoT thinking as previously deployed point-solutions (e.g. most M2M systems) reveal more and more functional limitations and IT management issues.
  7. Major IT systems integrators will begin to offer “managed solutions” for edge computing in addition to their “managed services” for cloud computing.
  8. Interoperability and legacy integration problems will be reduced with connector technologies, data normalization and shared micro-services delivered in/on “smart gateways”.
  9. Second-generation IIoT smart gateways (software-defined with on-board IIoT software stacks, connectivity and shared services) will quickly render first-generation (hardware-defined) M2M gateways obsolete.
  10. Security at the edge will be positioned as an IT/OT firewall. The potential for hacking OT systems, possibly through IT connections, is increasingly becoming a concern. Edge computing appliances will serve as the IT/OT firewall.

“Today’s trends show that the term ‘Edge Computing’ will continue to grow in usage and come to represent most implementation scenarios for the IIoT,” Jennis said. “The addition of new capabilities ‘at the edges’ of OT systems, IT systems, the Internet and cloud services will come to define the evolution of the IIoT and its new business value-add.”

“Next-generation smart gateways and industrial servers will supply the edge platforms to support the demands of the IIoT. These gateways and servers will host the software stacks that enable data connectivity from the sensor to the cloud, while also supporting edge compute and intrinsic security,” continued Jennis. “They will thus support fog computing architectures where applications can add-value at the most appropriate place in an end-to-end IIoT system: at the device, on the edge appliance, or in the IT/cloud environment. This multi-tiered architecture will come to define the IIoT and provide the ubiquitous (and secure) data accessibility and distributed systems capabilities needed to support new vertical solutions in, for example, smart factories, intelligent transportation systems and integrated healthcare systems.”

As an example of this trend PrismTech’s newly announced Vortex Edge PMQ (http://www.prismtech.com/vortex/vortex-edge-pmq) leverages best in class IIoT edge computing, connectivity and predictive analytics technologies to provide real-time device-edge-cloud connectivity.