The hyper-connected cloud is another step closer thanks to the development of a web-based operating system that connects devices.
In the world of the Internet of Things, approximately 50 billion devices are expected to be connected via the Internet by the year 2020. It is anticipated that consumers will be able to connect their smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to it — purely for entertainment, or even for obtaining information or collecting and analyzing data. Fujitsu is working on the creation of this hyper-connected cloud, which is aimed at supporting people’s private and professional life in a variety of ways. Technology that can link people and their smart devices to a wide range of equipment is an important part of these efforts.
High Development Costs
There is still a problem, specifically relating to the connection of equipment, as a variety of dedicated apps and drivers are required in order to connect a smartphone to other devices. In addition to this, different versions have to be developed for each operating system, from Windows to Android and iOS. This imposes considerable costs on service providers and device manufacturers because they have to continually (further) develop and update their software. At the same time, users have to perform cumbersome procedures to connect their equipment, such as changing network settings, searching for devices, and downloading and installing applications.
A new technology, developed by Fujitsu, allows web applications written in HTML5 to run on smart devices for operating other equipment. This is a web-based operating system that automatically connects smartphones to peripherals and that enables integrated use with cloud services, regardless of the operating system of the smartphone or tablet. This makes it possible for service providers and device manufacturers to develop applications and drivers that are not linked to a specific platform. As a result, users can connect equipment to their mobile smart devices quickly and smoothly. The developers from Fujitsu promise that, over the next year, the technology will make its way into practical market applications.
In short, laborious procedures for connecting equipment and high development costs are a thing of the past with the web-based operating system from Fujitsu. All equipment is plug & play, and the same system can be used with a wide variety of different devices. A number of different applications are already conceivable; for example, carers being able to remotely read sensors in smart homes where care-dependent older people live. It could also be easy to establish a connection with displays in the rear seat of a taxi, or to gain access to a navigation system. In tourist hotspots, smart devices could be connected with a variety of equipment as well as screens and speakers in hotel rooms.
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Whether it’s speaking to friends, shopping, travelling or entertaining ourselves, it often feels as if the way we do everything has changed over the last 10 years. In our daily lives technology has become personal, supportive and connected – endlessly configurable with the apps, information and connections we need to help us live our lives the way we want.
Understandably, employees who use such consumer services at home are increasingly expecting the same degree of choice, configurability and convenience at work – and for the applications they use to be updated just as frequently. They deeply feel the way in which digital technologies can make even the most complex tasks personalised and straightforward – but often experience a huge gulf between the modern, mobile and cloud based solutions they use in their personal lives and the IT they are forced to use at work.
Filling this increasing expectation gap by delivering more digital systems, more quickly is probably the defining challenge of enterprise IT today. The ability to create and connect systems and processes at the speed and scale required to underpin digital business evolution is literally an issue of business survival.
Currently, however, there is a huge gap between the resources required to deliver this wave of digital change and the resources available to most enterprise IT organisations. Swamped by legacy systems, siloed data, locked-down processes and locked-down budgets they often struggle to simply keep existing systems running. The response to change is therefore often one of prevention – effectively CIOs are forced to maintain the integrity of the company’s traditional information systems at the expense of meeting its digital needs.
As Jon Wrennall pointed out recently this means that many business people increasingly turn to ‘shadow IT’ – spreadsheets, ‘quick and dirty’ application development or third-party cloud services. While shadow IT can create huge potential security and scalability headaches it’s hard to stop it without offering an alternative – especially when many of these home-grown systems deliver real value to users and form the de facto backbone of many essential front office processes.
Jon’s alternative proposal was to accept that enterprise IT cannot take on the digital world by itself and to embrace the business as partners in a new and more collaborative technology delivery model. This sounds great but what does it look like in practice? In our experience it requires two things – a new kind of platform and a new model of collaboration.
Firstly, genuine empowerment of the business has to start by giving them access to the digital tools they need to safely create value. This requires a new kind of business application platform, one which provides separate environments that empower both business and IT people to create, integrate and share applications of differing levels of complexity in a safe and secure environment. Such a platform enables non-technical people to build a broad range of simple solutions for themselves – allowing unmet needs to be fulfilled, long standing inefficiencies to be addressed and frustrating collaboration gaps to be closed.
Secondly, a shared platform changes the collaboration dynamic and enables a new and more productive set of behaviours to emerge. Rather than spending time locking down environments or stamping out rogue development enterprise IT can allow innovation to happen anywhere and use data to understand what’s working. CIOs can instead focus their efforts on solving core technology challenges at pace while co-opting successful innovations – adopting what works and onward developing it by integrating it more deeply into the processes and systems of the enterprise.
In this way digital evolution happens rapidly and dynamically, powered by an army of new developers who are motivated to fix gaps, connect silos and transform experiences at the edge of the organisation – changes which IT can use in turn to kick start a deeper transformation as they ripple through to core processes and systems. This effectively turns the problem of shadow IT on its head. Instead of seeing distributed innovation as a risk it becomes a way of testing ideas and reducing the risk of change. The impact of such a shift can be transformational.
But getting there takes leadership, and that has to come from the CIO and the IT department. It means leaving centralised, big bang approaches behind and opening up your technology to others. It means embracing evolution and freeing people to innovate at digital speed. In a recent Insight Guide, my colleagues and I agreed that creative disobedience is a necessary virtue in the digital era; the good news is that by using the right kind of platform and approach you can actively encourage people to break rules without breaking the business.
So use digital platforms to create a factory for innovation and let ideas flow. By becoming ‘chief digital enabler’ the CIO can accelerate change, transform engagement and facilitate the creation of better products and services for customers – and in so doing help their company discover its true competitive edge.
Dr Ian Thomas @iansthomas from Fujitsu RunMyProcess originally discussed this topic in a white paper which is available here. Fujitsu RunMyProcess is a unique cloud platform that enables customers in more than 45 countries to remove technology barriers to digital transformation.
Oil and gas producers have come under increased scrutiny in the wake of several major spills and other disasters. Ensuring offshore oil rigs, drilling equipment, and other assets are in good working order is critical to employee safety, production consistency, and safeguarding against potential environmental damage. That means equipment has to be inspected frequently and accurately.
Having accurate, reliable data capture technology is even more important due to the implementation of new rules and regulations in 2014 related to improving both processes and recordkeeping to ensure well integrity.
With manual processes, it can be difficult to correctly identify items — which can include dozens or even hundreds of identical couplings and valves, for example — and update inspection records. Fujitsu’s RFID solutions can provide fast, accurate identification of assets and equipment to speed up the inspection process.
With durable, high-memory RFID tags designed to operate on metal and in damp, dirty environments, oil and gas companies can uniquely identify each piece of equipment. Tags like Fujitsu’s 8KByte high memory tag, or our 64KByte RFID Tag can store not only identifying information, but also updated inspection and maintenance data. That means employees working in remote sites without network connectivity can still access and update the information on the tag using a mobile device. Fujitsu also offers a new line of integrated label RFID tags that can be used to replace the traditional nameplate on parts.
The Oil & Gas RFID Solution Group (an industry consortium) has identified a number of inspection and maintenance applications that could benefit from using RFID. The technology can be used to track inspections and maintenance of flanges used on oil and gas pipelines, for example, which can accelerate data reconciliation, validate data, and improve safety.
RFID can eliminate the time consuming and error-prone manual data entry associated with inspection and maintenance checks. That saves time, and it also ensures equipment is accurately identified and maintained. Those savings not only take the sting out of regulatory compliance activities, they also make it easier to operate oil and gas production facilities safely and securely.
For more information about how Fujitsu’s RFID solutions can improve your manufacturing and supply chain operations, contact us today.
We often hear about the 3 Vs or 4 Vs or even 5 Vs of Big Data. Almost always Volume, Velocity and Variety are the first three mentioned. With Big Data, the Volume is large, the Velocity is high, and the Variety is definitely extensive. In my opinion, Veracity is a worthy addition to those first 3 Vs. Our data, whether big or small, must be accurate and of course secure. And the fifth V, for Value, is what compute and IT and pumping electrons through silicon is all about. We need to extract Value from the data in order to make any Big Data project worthwhile.
How does the Fujitsu M10 SPARC server provide those 5 Vs? Let’s take a look at each in turn.
All of the Fujitsu M10 models offer extremely dense compute capabilities, highly scalable architectures plus core activation providing fine granular expansion. These features allow the Fujitsu M10 business server to grow along with your Big Data. The compact 1-socket M10-1 is a beast; it easily provides the processing power of several larger, previous generation systems. Step up to the M10-4, and you get a high-end server in a 4U package. Then the M10-4S Building Block system provides the highest levels of scalability. It goes from 2 sockets to 64 in 2 or 4 socket steps and supports huge memory (32 Terabytes maximum). The ability to flexibly expand is one of the most important capabilities required for large workloads such as Big Data and analytics. The Big Data + analytics field is relatively new, and this modular design is perfect for dipping into the potential with a small initial investment, but then have a path to rapidly expand.
Speed is not just about Gigahertz. The overall design of a server contributes just as much to processing speed. Of course Fujitsu M10 servers have a great clock speed (up to 3.7GHz), but the whole system approach to M10’s design has contributed to record-breaking performance. For example, Liquid Loop Cooling lets us place the CPUs and memory very close together for extreme low latency and memory throughput of over 100 Gigabytes/sec per CPU chip. Putting the Memory Access Controllers directly in the CPU means direct CPU to memory connections as well. Same for the I/O controllers. We put everything on the chip and pack the entire machine in a very dense package. Then inside the silicon, Software on Chip features like SIMD (single instruction multiple data) in conjunction with Oracle Database In-Memory squeeze the most out of the hardware design for incredibly impressive performance gains.
One size does not fit all. Fujitsu M10 is not just three models. We provide many different ways to meet your specific needs: multiple CPU speeds, granular core activation, mixed memory DIMM support, start with just 4 DIMMs in M10-1 or 8 in M10-4 and M10-4S, start with just a single M10-4S Building Block, and multiple ways to slice and dice the system physically and virtually.
The popular, mature and trusted Oracle VM for SPARC logical domain technology and Oracle Solaris containers are excellent tools for virtualization. And, the M10-4S supports physical partitioning for dividing and joining multiple Building Blocks into electrically isolated partitions, even dynamically. These features are all about providing the variety of configurations you need to boost utilization, consolidate old machines, and optimize your return on investment.
What is the most important thing about mainframes? The machine must stay up! What is the most important thing about data? It must be accurate, reliable and secure. Fujitsu is roughly twice as old as I am, and has been designing, building and selling mainframes for decades (even now). That’s a lot of experience in the reliability, availability and serviceability (RAS) area. And that experience is embodied in Fujitsu M10 machines. It may not be sexy or an often-touted claim in Silicon Valley, but Fujitsu prides itself on thinking about the customer first, and making mission-critical systems that work, work well, and work for a long time.
We aren’t just old; we know cutting edge too! Hardware encryption/decryption enabled by the Software on Chip Crypto features inside M10’s SPARC64 X/X+ processors can result in up to six to seven times higher encryption rates for OpenSSL encryption of data. For details, see my earlier blog:
And it all adds up to value, the most important V for you. Extreme raw performance, core activation granularity and savings, consolidate those old SPARC systems in your datacenter,
in-memory database capabilities, etc. These all enable savings in power, space and money, as well as contribute mightily to a platform perfect for unprecedented real-time analytics for immediate knowledge and decision support. Corporations want to extract value that results in enhanced customer insights and a better ROI for the business. Government organizations are looking to extract knowledge from their data whether on the security front or in terms of more effectively providing services to us all.
Those first Vs lead to Value, and we always want to keep the Value dimension top of mind when we work with Big Data. If your Big Data is small or large and growing, Fujitsu M10 servers offer an excellent array of Big Data characteristics that lead to Value.
You might be wondering what on earth knitting has to do with digital technology. The clickety-clack of Aunt Molly’s needles as she churns out another Christmas sweater is surely as far removed from the white heat of technology as is possible to travel.
But it turns out to understand the story of knitting is to understand the story of digital. It tells us a lot about how digital technology is creating value, and how businesses and consumers must adapt to a new paradigm. Let me explain.
Knitting, as we know, is a craft and an old one. It appeared around 2,000 years ago, and like so many innovations, its origins lie in the Middle East. By the 14th Century, knitting had become popular across Europe, and woollen stockings and gloves were much favoured by the nobility. Works of art even portrayed the Virgin Mary as a knitter.
As we also know, the industrial revolution transformed textile production. Machines are excellent at producing fabrics. What once relied on people’s skill and creativity, now relegated them to factors of production, cogs in a manufacturing process, machine operators in William Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’. Yet this was progress. Because good quality clothing was now affordable by all, not just the wealthy. Meanwhile, hand-knitting became a pastime, a parlour activity. And so it would remain, for three hundred years.
Today, something bizarre and amazing is happening to the world of knitting. Digital and machine technologies are being combined to create ‘open knitting platforms’. These platforms – like Openknit and Knitic – enable the easy creation and sharing of knitting patterns in open communities, which can be ‘printed out’ at the touch of a button, using open source software and digitally converted knitting machines.
‘Open knitting’ means that people can tailor-make their own clothes, choosing their preferred colouring, style and size. If you see something you like in a shop window, you can take a picture on your phone, share it, and through the platform turn it into a pattern and then a physical garment. You only need pay for the wool you use.
Now, we have grown up in an industrial society and we share the same set of assumptions. Our world is the world of one size fits all. ‘Any colour as long as it’s black’ is how Henry Ford famously put it. But digital platforms put these assumptions under threat.
Clothes sizes – S, M, L, XL – are an industrial characteristic, templates that categorise different types of consumer. In the digital era, just as in the craft era, such standards are less relevant. What I really want is my size. Unless I have a doppelganger out there, the product I want is unique to me. (And even if there is, my doppelganger would almost certainly have different taste.) A tailor can do this for a price, but now so can a digital producer. Just without anything like the cost.
The maker movement, from where open knitting is flourishing, is built around this characteristic of combined scale and creativity, enabled by digital connectivity. At Fujitsu, we are keen to build on this, partnering with TechShop to provide high tech tools to school children in the U.S. Yet the implications for business go much wider
Smart, connected products provide enormous potential for customisation. Where traditional manufacturers build product features on the assembly line, digitalised companies can use software to change product characteristics on the fly. For instance, instead of producing different varieties of engine in the factory, car manufacturers can make a standard engine and use software to alter its horsepower to meet the needs of the consumer.
New, virtual interfaces give products even greater scope for customisation. Giving a car a digital dashboard, for example, means it can be easily configured for customer preferences and regional variations, instead of being permanently set from the factory.
What’s more, the digital model allows for development of the product through its lifetime. Tesla fits its Model S with an autopilot, but in anticipation the system will be radically improved with AI technology the company is working on. And delivered through software updates over the lifetime of the vehicle. ‘Don’t fall asleep at the wheel for another five years’ Elon Musk warns, but at least you won’t have to buy a new model to gain the benefits of a more intelligent car.
Or take Schindler’s PORT system. It enables elevators to dynamically predict demand patterns, thereby reducing waiting times for passengers. (The irony of intelligent elevators will not be lost on fans of Douglas Adams, who not only foresaw such technology but envisaged it ending up ‘sulking in basements’.) The point is that consumer value is coming more from the software, which can be developed and improved, than the fixed, physical hardware. This is not just about the product, but the digital platform that sits behind it.
Across the digital economy we will find ‘long tails’ everywhere – products and services that are highly customised but delivered at low cost on an industrial scale. Digital platforms will warp the traditional economic model. On the one hand, bringing economies of scale that greatly reduce the operating costs and the price to the consumer. On the other, increasing the varieties and possible combinations of product and service options, giving even greater value for consumers. A blending of craft and industrial, if you like.
This calls for a new way of working, and will change the way that organisations use the skills of their people. Platforms may automate many process-based activities currently carried out by people, but they will open up new demand for creativity, for people to deliver innovation in product features. Huge potential lies ahead. At Fujitsu, we encourage organizations to grasp the opportunities of digital.
Moving beyond the industrial paradigm will have impacts on wider society. Healthcare and education, for instance, are built around the same model the Victorians used. Students and patients are as much part of a production line as cars and tractors. Digital technology offers the real possibility of personalised healthcare, where much of the value is created outside of the ‘factory’ environment of the hospital. The same is true for education, which powered by connected technology could shed its dependency on rigid institutions and standard curricula.
This is what we at Fujitsu mean by a human centric future. Aunt Molly might just agree.