Cumulocity IoT is an innovative software platform that addresses the market demand for easy, fast, and scalable IoT solutions. It combines the power of Software AG’s Digital Business Platform with Cumulocity’s product portfolio. Functionality includes the ability to monitor and analyse streaming IoT data; cloud, on premise, edge and hybrid deployment; and a range of pre-packaged IoT solutions such as condition monitoring, predictive maintenance and track and trace. Andrew Brown, the executive director of Enterprise and IoT Research at Strategy Analytics, discusses this open, application-centric approach to Industrial IoT with chief executive, Bernd Gross
Andrew Brown: Cumulocity has an impressive track record and the company has been a leading vendor of device and application management platforms since 2010. Why did you do the deal with Software AG?
Bernd Gross: We had been and continue to be very successful with our platforms, but we operate in a very dynamic market and by 2017 it was clear that we needed to scale our offer and become a global solution provider. Moreover we needed to do it quickly so that was one of the reasons why we did the deal. Software AG currently has offices in 70 countries around the world.
The second reason is their rich portfolio of software products that complement our offer, one of which is WebMethods, an advanced integration engine that enables seamless interoperability between the operational technology and information technology domains. The former is the domain where data are generated and the latter is the domain where data are consumed. Another key complementary product is Apama, a platform that allows organisations to analyse and act on high-volume event stream data in real-time.
The third reason comes from the emerging need for IoT platform providers to be more open about the performance of their IoT specific business offer. Software AG is leading this approach and has created a separate business unit that has enabled developments such as prepackaged solutions. These solutions reflect the way that the IoT market is maturing and they are facilitating the growing trend away from expensive, time-consuming in-house or bespoke IoT solutions.
AB: How successful have you been with this approach and can you also indicate its relevance to the Industrial IoT sectors that you target?
BG: We have been very successful. For example, Siemens has selected our technology in order to complement MindSphere, which is a powerful IoT operating system that has data analytics, connectivity capabilities, plus tools for developers, applications and services. In addition ADAMOS, that stands for ADAptive Manufacturing Open Solutions, a strategic alliance for machine and plant engineering, chose our IoT technology after an extensive evaluation process. Alliance partners include DMG MORI, Dürr, Homag, ZEISS as well as ASM PT.
The objective is to bundle knowledge in mechanical engineering, manufacturing and information technology. ADAMOS is set to become a global standard for the industry. It combines up-to-date IT technology and industry knowledge, thereby enabling engineering companies to offer tried and tested solutions for digitally networked production to their customers. These and other wins from leading companies such as Bosch indicate that Cumulocity is setting the de facto standard for IoT software platforms and is addressing the upcoming needs of the industry.
AB: How do you connect operational technology (OT) with information technology and combine the IoT insights that come from data analytics with business processes?
BG: This is the key topic for the OT and IT communities. They have different mindsets: the OT focus tends to be on quick wins, it is short term; IT’s focus is strategic, it is long term. These conflicting requirements are resolved by decoupling the two domains while enabling seamless interoperability. Enabling seamless connectivity between IT and OT domains is a mandatory IoT requirement. Seamless fusion is realized by middleware and an integration platform, normally located in the cloud or data centre.
The OT benefits that come from seamless integration with IT derive from the use of a more efficient, better scalable, well managed and secured infrastructure onto which numerous OT applications are layered. They include predictive maintenance as well as remote asset monitoring and management. The IT benefits include secure real-time communication with the enterprise’s assets while retaining the requisite efficiency for creating, scaling, maintaining and securing the infrastructure.
AB: How do you see the market evolving in the nearto medium-term?
BG: When Cumulocity entered the IIoT arena in 2010 we identified the need for historic machine data to be analysed over relatively long time periods in order to realise increased productivity, for example, by creating preventative maintenance programmes. This was followed by the need to analyse real-time data at the edge, thereby generating real-time, insightful business intelligence that allowed decisions to be made in the moment. In the near-term we are witnessing the need for predictive maintenance programmes that detect and pinpoint potential issues before they occur. Early identification helps companies deploy limited resources more cost effectively, maximise equipment uptime and enhance quality and supply chain processes, thereby ultimately improving customer satisfaction.
Looking further down the road there is a clear and compelling need to address the challenge of machine learning and artificial intelligence. This is not an easy task, but because the company has lived through the development cycles that have taken place in the last eight years we are able to continue to extend and expand the functionality of our platform. In a nutshell, the platform is intrinsically flexible and future-proof due to its open architecture: this will allow Cumulocity’s offer to evolve in line with the market.