This month we wanted to share a real customer implementation with IoT Evolution magazine readers. IoT has been around for many years now, but is still maturing. Hearing what other companies are doing to implement successful IoT solutions may help you discover lower cost, faster ways to go to market with your project. This case study was developed in conjunction with a Eurotech customer, Om7Sense, and the Eclipse Foundation.
Kevin Read and his co-founder Bernhard Riedl have a background in data centers and noticed a market need a few years ago. Medium-sized to large data centers worldwide are using rack-mountable power distribution units to control and monitor electrical power in the data center. These smart PDUs measure the power consumption of each device plugged into the socket, along with temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors.
However, most data centers are not leveraging these smart PDUs with a backend system for reading, storing, and analyzing the valuable data.
“The market has a lot of raw data coming from smart PDUs, but they need a software layer on top of that data to make it useful,” said Read. “With a software tool for making the data accessible, data centers could save time and money on maintenance while analyzing power consumption for optimizing business practices. When we realized the demand, we decided to develop and offer Om7Sense.”
Om7Sense is a family of products to monitor and manage industrial sensors. Most of these sensors are found in computer centers or production environments with large energy requirements. As Read and Riedl developed the product, they wanted it to come preinstalled on industrial hardware, with the ability to be up and running within minutes of installation.
I had worked with Kevin’s father, John, in the past, and I talked to him about the benefits of basing the development on Java and the Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi) model for their solution. OSGi is a modular platform for Java that implements a complete component model. Building an IoT architecture with a modular OSGi approach would future-proof the solution, reduce development time, and enable rapid delivery of new services to the sensors.
“Once we decided to go with this approach, we needed an industrial quality hardware box with no-hassle installation via a software framework on top,” said Kevin Read. Om7Sense chose the ReliaGATE 10-20, Eurotech’s IoT gateway for industrial applications that comes with the Everyware Software Framework, a commercial edition of Eclipse Kura, the open source Java/OSGi middleware for IoT gateways.
The Open Source Framework for IoT – Eclipse Kura
Keeping in mind the desire to allow customers to install Om7Sense and immediately begin to collect PDU data, Om7Sense wanted to utilize an open source Java/OSGi middleware for the IoT gateway. Eurotech’s ReliaGATE 10-20 came built and ready for both ESF and Eclipse Kura. Eclipse Kura is an open source smart application container that enables remote management of such gateways and provides a wide range of APIs that allow Om7Sense to develop and deploy their own IoT application efficiently.
Eclipse Kura runs on top of the Java Virtual Machine and leverages OSGi to simplify the process of writing reusable software building blocks. The younger Read has a background in Java development and a lot of confidence in using OSGi for an industrial environment, which led him to embrace the Eclipse Kura project for Om7Sense.
“We feel using Kura will guarantee future extensibility and compatibility to other products,” said Read. “By basing Om7Sense on Kura, we can provide the optimal basis for integration into any industrial environment.”
Om7Sense was designed from the ground up with a distributed concept. The data is intelligently collected in Om7Sense devices, and then sent via the industry standard queuing mechanism (MQTT) to the Om7Sense concentrator. Data from different Om7Sense devices are stored and analyzed, which provides a complete picture that can only be made available when data from various sources is simultaneously analyzed and displayed.
The industry-based design of Eclipse Kura provides a platform in which remote administration is possible. After the customer administrator enables this function, Om7Sense will automatically enroll at the administration center, allowing for advanced remote support. This support can even include the remote installation of new features. No security changes are needed at the customer site to provide this support.
Results – Optimizing Smart PDUs
Working with Eurotech hardware and Eclipse Kura has allowed Om7Sense to build a solid solution that fills a market need. The Om7Sense solution is based on industry standards to ensure flexibility and expandability, along with compatibility with other leading products.
“Potential customers like our ability for future expansion since in this market projects can grow quickly,” said Read. “Om7Sense was designed as a distributed system, and all data is transmitted to the Om7Sense Concentrator to analyze and visualize the data no matter how large the system grows.”
With the Om7Sense product, all connected PDUs are detected automatically and shown on the backend dashboard, which works on any device with a browser. As a start-up company, Om7Sense has had good success in building a working product and getting to market quickly.
Read and his colleagues have been very happy using Kura, and they have contributed a few small patches and extensions back to the project.
“The Kura support was excellent, since we are talking to the developers working on it,” he said. “The power of open source is getting high quality information and feedback. If something goes wrong, you have a vibrant ecosystem that can provide help.”
Robert Andres is chief strategy officer at Eurotech (www.eurotech.com).
Edited by Ken Briodagh