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Get ready for zero-touch edge computing

May 6, 2021
Automation enables equipment operation with better information and control at the edge

Aric Prost is senior director, business development, at Stratus. He and Craig Resnick, vice president, consulting, at ARC Advisory Group will explain how to leverage edge technology and create resilient smart machines in a live May 20 webinar presented by Control Design. The presentation will also be available on demand.

Smart edge devices are being used more frequently for data collection and control, but what exactly is a smart edge device, and what real work is it doing? How does edge computing make machines smarter and improve manufacturing? Register now to watch this webinar live or on demand.

Prost answered a few questions from Control Design prior to the webinar.

Register now to learn how to leverage edge technology.

What are three key things that an OEM/machine builder, system integrator (SI) or manufacturer should know about your organization?

Aric Prost, senior director, business development, Stratus: First, Stratus develops zero-touch, edge-computing platforms that are simple to deploy, protected against system failure and autonomous. We pioneered fault tolerance and have applied that unique capability to our edge-computing platforms so that organizations can run critical applications at the operational edge with no downtime. Second, our platforms are purpose-built for the industrial edge to plug into OT environments and meet IT requirements such as interoperability, easy to maintain, cost-effective and secure. Third, industry analysts estimate edge computing to be a $15 billion market opportunity over the next few years. Stratus provides machine builders, OEMs and solution builders with the edge-computing platforms, services and cost structure to create differentiated, high-value customer offerings to help them to capture that opportunity.

Also read: Where exactly is the network edge?

What new technologies are driving product development and why?

Aric Prost, senior director, business development, Stratus: For the industrial edge, Industry 4.0 technologies such as IIoT, predictive analytics, AI and ML are driving new product development and necessitating products with the ability to run advanced software at the edge. To achieve those capabilities, organizations require edge-computing platforms to do workload consolidation to reduce costs and physical sprawl and to provide application flexibility on machine. Stratus edge-computing platforms enable end users, OEMs, solution builders and others to use virtualization to run these advanced applications, including cybersecurity applications, to develop smart machines, smart factories and smart infrastructure. Adding edge computing to this equipment enables them to perform analysis in situ and send data to the control center or data center.

How does the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) figure into your business strategy?

Aric Prost, senior director, business development, Stratus: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) figures heavily into the Stratus business strategy. IIoT offers organizations the opportunity to collect data for better decision making for applications such as asset performance management, predictive maintenance and condition-based monitoring. The low cost of IIoT-enabled devices and equipment makes data acquisition a reality and has driven up the demand for digitalization and development of smart connected devices.

End users, machine builders, SIs and manufacturers are able to embed Stratus edge-computing platforms in their machines and equipment so that the control, monitoring and big data collection is near the sensors, eliminating bandwidth and latency issues to enable edge-in connectivity. Stratus platforms can be deployed easily at the device, gateway and compute edge, as well as integrated as part of the machine.

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How will machine automation and controls alter the way companies staff their operations in the future?

Aric Prost, senior director, business development, Stratus: COVID has highlighted the need for automation and has caused organizations to evaluate their level of operational resilience. They recognize the need to deploy control architectures using edge-computing platforms that offer zero-touch operation, zero downtime and the ability to run multiple software applications in a single platform. They are also faced with limited IT skills to operate and maintain machines. Automation offers the potential to empower operators with better information to be more efficient with fewer mistakes, as well as to operate equipment remotely with mobile devices.

How is the development of software solutions impacting requirements for hardware?

Aric Prost, senior director, business development, Stratus: What we hear from machine builders and end users is that they need computing platforms that provide flexibility to run a range of business-critical applications efficiently at the point where data is generated from critical equipment and processes, which is why edge computing is essential. Stratus solves this problem with virtualization, fault tolerance and zero-touch operation. Our platforms manage multiple workloads to run software from different vendors across platforms and operating systems, and they can easily scale up and down. All of these features reduce IT costs and make Stratus edge-computing platforms incredibly simple to operate and manage.

Edge technology and smart machines

As VARs and OEMs explore ways to make their machines smarter and more resilient, they’re looking at edge-based solutions to enhance and expand the capabilities of traditional machine architectures. This makes it possible to meet the requirements and demands of digitalization—connectivity, scalability, flexibility, downtime prevention, security, data collection, latency, bandwidth, asset performance monitoring, AR/VR, AI and machine learning.

Register now to watch Stratus’ Aric Prost and ARC Advisory Group’s Craig Resnick explain how to leverage edge technology and create resilient smart machines.

As OT and IT continue their convergence, which one will be leading the direction of future machine automation and technology?

Aric Prost, senior director, business development, Stratus: We develop edge-computing platforms with OT in mind, but they’re enabled to meet IT requirements in terms of maintenance, interoperability, security and cost. We continue to develop products and solutions that are simple to use and easy to embed into machines and solutions that a regular engineer or technician with OT skills will be able to execute.

Across the board, we see disaggregation of the staid Purdue model where computing is becoming more distributed and expected to operate like OT with failover in milliseconds, for example. This is the OT environment of manufacturing business leaders, control engineers and operations leaders, and not IT. We see the convergence of OT and IT to continue to accelerate and to be a key element to successful execution of digital initiatives for organizations, who are engaging the right VARs, machine builders, SIs and OEMs.

Looking into the future, how will technology change your organization or other organizations over the next five years?

Aric Prost, senior director, business development, Stratus: At Stratus, we see edge computing as foundational to digital transformation and Industry 4.0, which is why we’re fully engaged in this $15 billion market. The ability to harness data at the edge and eliminate downtime for critical equipment is the prerequisite for advanced Industry 4.0 capabilities. In terms of edge deployments, organizations are still in the early stages. Industry 4.0 will have a long runway, and nobody knows exactly where it will end up. These are exciting times. At Stratus, we’re lucky to have some great thought leaders in both IT and OT, and we’re all constantly listening to customers, partners and experts to deliver the edge-computing foundation.

About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

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