IoT is Coming… EMPOWER 2019 Wrap Up!

After watching the season premiere of the Game of Thrones (GOT) final season a few weeks ago, I flew to Atlanta for EMPOWER 2019 which is VMware’s event for Partners. It kicked off with a happy hour and demo station presentations. I supported the Edge and IoT demo station where we did some fun Raspberry Pi demos and had some cool giveaways.

One fun theme we had was that IoT is Coming and if you use Pulse IoT Center, “you’ll know things”. GOT fans will get the reference, if not, search “I drink and I know things” in your favorite browser. Pulse IoT Center is a tool for managing your IoT and Edge environment. See this post:
https://livevirtually.net/2019/03/29/edge-and-iot-vmware-compatibility-guide-vcg-is-now-live/
for more detail on how it compares to vCenter and WorkspaceOne.

I was really impressed with the number of partners who had a good understanding of Edge and IoT and were already working with customers on their overall strategy. In one case the partner was planning for State and Local schools to implement IoT device management for video surveillance cameras and gunshot detection sensors. In another case, they were looking to bring operational efficiency to their customers manufacturing floors that were being refreshed with new ruggedized gateways and wireless sensors.

Many of the partners were excited to see the Raspberry Pi demo which went like this.

At the booth we had a monitor with a browser and one AstroPi:
https://astro-pi.org/ https://www.raspberrypi.org/education/programmes/astro-pi/

Raspberry Pi with SenseHAT (Astro Pi)

This is a Raspberry Pi 3B+ with an add-on SenseHAT that monitors temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, yaw, pitch, roll, and has a joystick and LED display. We logged into the Pulse IoT Center dashboard which is based on the standard VMware Clarity HTML5 UI. So the look and feel and navigation should be familiar to administrators of other VMware products.

Pulse IoT Center Dashboard

This is our recently released Pulse IoT Center 2.0. Then we clicked on “Devices” to show list of Devices under management:

Device List

Notice that this lists “Gateway” Device Types and “Thing” Device Types and that Raspberry Pi is a Gateway and the SenstHat is a Thing. The difference is that a Gateway can run our Pulse IoT Center Agent (IOTC Agent) and a Thing cannot. However, a Thing can be managed via the IOTC Agent running on the Gateway it’s attached to. In this case, the SenseHAT Thing is physically attached to the Raspberry Pi Gateway. In other cases, Things may connect via Bluetooth, Zigbee, Modbus, or some other IoT protocol that both the Thing and Gateway can support.

Clicking on the Raspberry Pi Gateway you get this basic information:

Clicking on “Properties” you get more detailed information:

This is a good way to find the IP Address of the device, uptime, os-release, status of SSH, or any custom information specific to that device like the location of the physical gateway.

Clicking on “Metrics” shows CPU, Memory, etc. about the Raspberry Pi gateway.

Clicking on “Connected Devices” shows the Things connected to the Gateway.

In this case, there’s only one Thing, the SenseHat. Some gateways could have many Things connected physically or wirelessly. If you click on the “SenseHat” Thing and then “Metrics” you can see what the Raspberry PI has been collecting from the SenseHat.

OK, now for the fun part. If you go back to the Raspberry Pi Device view and click on the three little dots on the right you can click on “Commands” to get to the command console.

Once in the Command Console you can click on “SEND COMMAND” to get this list of predefined commands as well as some commands we added:

For the demo, we want to turn on the SenseHAT LED display so we select “SenseHatDisplay On” and then click “SEND COMMAND”.

The Pulse IoT Center Agent running on the Gateway will check in with it’s Pulse IoT Center every 5 minutes by default. For the purposes of the demo, we shortened this to 5 seconds. When it checks in, it will inquire if there is a command or campaign to run. In this case, it’ll see that there is a command to run and it will execute that command which will turn on the LED display.

Raspberry Pi with SenseHAT (Astro Pi)
LED’s on

If the device is in a remote location, the status of the command can be monitored:

This is an example of sending a command to a single device. Pulse IoT Center is capable of running Campaigns which will perform commands on multiple devices. We can address that topic in another post. And, this is just one of the many examples of how Pulse IoT Center can be used to manage IoT devices.

IT Runs IoT

I began my IT career by migrating the company I was working for off of mainframe and onto a client/server environment. That was a major shift in how IT was done at the beginning of the Internet era. During that time, individual business units at many companies stood up their own LAN servers (e.g. Novel NetWare and Microsoft Windows NT Server). You could call this the first instance of “Shadow IT”. At some point, IT departments brought those servers and applications under IT management. VMware then came along and helped those servers and applications to run more efficiently on vSphere.

When cloud emerged, many individual business units started consuming cloud resources at Amazon, Microsoft, and Google and exposing sensitive company data. I was working for EMC at the time as a vSpecialist and remember one of my colleagues talking to a customer about “Shadow IT”. Many IT departments scrambled to gain control of those company assets to secure them. For a while now, VMware has helped IT with its Hybrid Cloud strategy to help support, manage, and secure public and private cloud resources.

In the mobile space, for a long time, many companies would issue cell phones to their employees. Then Apple and Android phones became popular and workers demanded these personal devices be able to access company applications and data. VMware helped IT provide secure access and control with its Mobile Device Management solutions using AirWatch and now Workspace ONE.

Internet of Things (IoT) has been going on for 20+ years back as long as I can remember when my first university internship was helping to build SCADA systems for a power company. Back then and until recently, each IoT use case was implemented and managed by the vendor providing the solution. My friend and colleague, Grant Challenger, posted a blog on the evolution of IoT in the enterprise here: What is IT’s role in IoT? He talks about the challenge with what he calls “Shadow IoT” and how now there’s a need for IT to get involved. Grant also coined the phrase “IT runs IoT” which means that it’s now time to bring IT disciplines to IoT, just like they did for LAN, Cloud, and MDM. This is the problem VMware is now targeting to help IT solve. There are millions of Edge gateways and IoT devices that need to be onboarded, managed, and secured and VMware Pulse IoT Center does just that.

When I was in a meeting last week and “IT runs IoT” came up again, I was sitting next to another long time colleague who was drinking his favorite coffee. So, I had my resident graphics artist create the image you see at the top. I hope you like it!

Edge and IoT VMware Compatibility Guide (VCG) is now live!

You can check out the VCG supported devices for Edge and IoT here:

Edge Gateways for Pulse IoT Center
Embedded Systems for Pulse IoT Center

This is a result of some great work by our Edge and IoT product and engineering teams to test and validate gateway vendor hardware with our Pulse Agent and Pulse IoT Center.

I think VMware does 2 things really well.

1) Provides world class software to manage infrastructure and help it run more efficiently

vSphere provides an efficient and secure compute platform for hybrid cloud and vCenter is a centralized platform for managing vSphere environments across hybrid cloud. Workspace ONE delivers and manages any app on any device with an integrated digital workspace platform. And now with the emergence of Edge and IoT, Pulse IoT Center provides a secure, enterprise-grade solution for IoT device management and monitoring.

2) Maintains an extensive VMware Compatibility Guide (VCG) of vigorously tested hardware from many different vendors that is supported by VMware software.

If you browse the VCG for Servers/Systems you’ll find Dell, HP, Cisco, Lenovo, and many many more. If you search for vSAN you’ll find thousands of HDD and flash media listed. If you search for End User Computing you’ll find various Thin Client vendor hardware listed. And now for Edge and IoT, you will find a list of devices supported by Pulse IoT Center. This is only the beginning. The VCG will be updated to reflect the rapidly expanding Edge and IoT market as new hardware is certified and new versions Pulse IoT Center are released.