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.

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