Internet of Business speaks with Ron Victor, CEO and founder of network-as-a-service provider IoTium, about how a new way to acquire network infrastructure could spur more companies to adopt the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
What does IoTium do?
The biggest problem impacting the uptake of the IIoT at scale is security and deployment complexity. IoTium, the first secure network infrastructure company for the IIoT, makes it possible for any type of organization to securely connect legacy, mission-critical industrial assets to the cloud with minimal IT intervention and absolutely no changes to enterprise security policy.
With our patented technology, we deliver a Network as a Service (NaaS) solution to securely connect legacy onsite systems to cloud-based applications. This means that building and industrial automation, oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation and smart city industries can streamline their operations and maximize return on investment, achieving optimum success in the Industry 4.0 era.
How does the network-as-a-service model work?
The IoTium NaaS solution securely connects legacy on-site systems to cloud-based applications to enable analytics, preventative maintenance and greater production efficiency. It provides complete visibility of the IIoT network, identifying connected assets and enabling organizations to ensure that everything on the network is authorized to be there.
With the virtualized edge platform, each tenant within the network can deploy any service (analytics applications, DPI, machine learning, encryption, compression and more) with one click across the entire IoT network using the orchestrator in the cloud. Any updates and patches to applications can be provisioned from the cloud and deployed across thousands of remote sites.
Additionally, it allows each tenant to create any custom logic in any language they prefer and push it from the orchestrator to run on-site whenever they like. Security is embedded in every layer of the IIoT stack, and doesn’t require changes to enterprise firewall and proxy settings. The built-in firewall creates a secure perimeter that protects the asset on-premise, making it invisible on the internet. The solution is based on certificate and keys with a complete PKI infrastructure in the backend, eliminating any risks due to usernames/passwords.
How did you build and develop this network?
IoTium’s founders, having worked across networking and industrial organizations, saw the need for a solution that truly enabled secure, scalable IIoT without dedicating entire teams and endless resources into developing in-house solutions. As a cloud-managed service, our NaaS solution gathers data generated from sensors and devices at an IoTium node at the edge of a network, which sends the data to a ‘book-ended’ IoTium edge node in a public, private, or hybrid cloud over any transport. This solves the dilemma surrounding deployment complexity, scalability, security, management, and cost of moving IoT networks to the next level of value for organizations.
Why is there a need for this?
There are two fundamental issues that are unique to connecting legacy industrial machinery making a need for this solution, deployment complexity and security. Traditional industrial organizations are aware of the benefits of IIoT and understand the value propositions, but they still face the question, ‘How do I connect my legacy systems to today’s cloud applications at scale?’ This is the question we answer.
Are there any pilot programs you can share?
We don’t have a ‘pilot program’, but we can share some details on an anonymous use case. One of the 2nd largest HVAC Contracting companies in the Midwest is using our solution to securely connect between non-connected, legacy asset (HVACs, lighting) to applications in the cloud from a remote location. Prior to this, the company had to travel on location, manually connect to these legacy assets, upload data, and then manually import it to their application. With IoTium, they can do that with one click from the comfort of their office. The ability to securely connect, monitor and control parameters such as temperature and energy usage in real time, from remote locations, has significantly improved business productivity, lowered maintenance costs, and minimized downtime.
Who is your target audience?
We’re targeting C-level business decision-makers and operations technology (OT) professionals within the smart city, building and industrial automation, transportation, oil and gas, and manufacturing industries. The organizations we specifically target fall into three categories:
- Manufacturers who sell assets to a customer but maintain the responsibility of servicing the assets themselves;
- System integrators who remotely monitor customers’ assets 24×7, provide analytics and help customers operate efficiently through IIoT;
- Analytics platform and application platform vendors who need to access data from assets.
What are the biggest challenges for a start-up in the IIoT space?
The IIoT space is crowded. There are a lot of interesting technologies that are addressing analytics, cloud-based applications, but the fundamental challenges are still there – how can we connect legacy mission critical brownfield assets to greenfield applications residing in public, private or hybrid clouds and data centers? While the amount of noise in the space can be a challenge, we feel that we stand out from the crowd on our ability to deliver the promise of IIoT to organizations.
How is IoTium funded?
We are a venture-backed start-up. We recently closed our Series A funding round with participation from March Capital Partners and GE Ventures. The round also included funding from Pankaj Patel, former executive vice president and chief development officer at Cisco; OpenSource Ventures, and Juniper Networks.
What are your future ambitions?
So far we have seen strong momentum in the building and industrial automation verticals. With our new funding, we’re expanding our footprint into the oil and gas, transportation and smart city industries. In the future, we see opportunities to continue to expand across a variety of vertical markets. Industrial IoT can bring value to almost any organization at scale, whether they manufacture products or provide services.