M2M APPS: Eurotech has been in M2M long before the term was coined. Can you give us a brief historical overview?
ROBERT ANDRES: Connecting machines (devices) to business applications isn’t new. Eurotech have been doing it for nearly twenty years for many customers and we’ve supplied solutions to a broad range of vertical applications. One example is the solutions we helped build for the oil and gas industry in order to monitor and control pipelines. What is new is that today’s M2M technologies enable solutions to scale, which allows them to be deployed in situations that previously could not have made use of embedded processing. Now customers can get valuable device data into their business applications at an affordable price and faster than ever before.
M2M APPS: Is there a clear dividing line between embedded processing and M2M? Or is it blurred?
ROBERT ANDRES: M2M is a term that certainly means different things to different players in the market. If we define M2M as “device to business application” then only a part of the embedded processing world is relevant to that concept. Eurotech focuses on a segment in the M2M market that offers multi-service gateways and other intelligent edge node devices combined with the building blocks required to design and implement device data infrastructures.
M2M APPS: How do you fit your embedded devices into an M2M solution?
ROBERT ANDRES: At Eurotech we believe that purpose built devices designed for the specific value propositions of vertical markets are one of M2M’s most important building blocks. But state of the art M2M solutions also need well-designed software and communication services that function on that hardware. One particularly important block we offer our customers is a cloud based M2M platform that integrates easily into existing enterprise IT infrastructures – offering simple access through APIs to real-time and historical data from devices.
M2M APPS: Lets move on to the enterprise space. Eurotech has created a software framework, a kind of programming environment, for this sector. It looks complex, so maybe you could summarize the highlights.
ROBERT ANDRES: In order to simplify and optimize the development of device software Eurotech has developed an application framework that sits above the operating system. It is based on Java and OSGi and enables the development of device software and the implementation of business logic in a very effective way. Not only does it allow us to abstract the hardware in order to ensure investment protection with regards to the software, but it also allows new services to be added to M2M gateways or edge nodes dynamically. This can be done as and when they are needed.
M2M APPS: So you’re basically allowing your customers to implement their required business logic on the device using Java. Are you getting traction with this concept, which would seem to be seriously disruptive to the industry?
ROBERT ANDRES: We clearly see a wide adoption of this concept in what we call the multi-service scalable edge nodes that are designed to integrate and consolidate multiple applications, which are often legacy apps.
M2M APPS: It’s a nice concept but does Eurotech have the requisite systems integration skills and experience?
ROBERT ANDRES: We certainly have skills and experience and did implement a large number of M2M solutions, many of them with large system integration partners, like the solutions we built with IBM for the Oil and Gas industry. But one of the really nice things about open and industry standards is that it enables an ecosystem of system integration partners that can build on Eurotech’s solutions and take them way beyond the already large partner landscape we have built over the years. IT centric M2M solutions open new doors. System integrators that have the C++ developers have traditionally implemented and integrated embedded devices. Programming business logic in Java on embedded devices lowers theentry barrier significantly. It allows more IT centric system integrators to build M2M solutions with purpose built devices for demanding vertical markets.
M2M APPS: How do you see the future of the industry? Getting bigger and better or just bigger?
ROBERT ANDRES: It is not really about bigger and better – it is more about a paradigm shift. Part of the traditional embedded market, most notably the one for hard, real-time solutions is not much affected by the “M2M” and “Internet of Things” trends and visions. Many other parts of the embedded industry are. The “Internet of Things” with its promise to connect all those intelligent devices, requires more IT centric approaches in order to scale not only up but also down. That’s needed to serve customers that until now could not afford professional M2M solutions incorporating purpose built, embedded hardware.