Computing Megatrends Impact Business Models

By Sharada Prahladrao



At ARC Advisory Group’s sixteenth India Forum for the process and discrete industries, Digitizing and Securing Industry, Infrastructure, and Cities, July 5-6, 2018, Wind River participated as a global sponsor. With over 250 delegates, informative presentations, and interactive discussions, this event provided an excellent opportunity for networking and knowledge sharing.  In his keynote sptrends1.PNGaddress, Ricky Watts, Director, Industrial Solutions, Wind River, discussed the company’s critical infrastructure solutions across various industry verticals via case studies.

Mr. Watts’ presentation was about fluid computing in a software-defined world; and how the era of “software-defined everything” is accelerating innovation and transforming business models across diverse market segments.  According to Mr. Watts, Wind River offers a comprehensive, edge-to-cloud software portfolio designed to address the challenges and opportunities companies face when evolving and modernizing their systems as they work to realize the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). Critical infrastructure requires seamless, uninterrupted integration between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT).  In tune with the forum’s theme, the company believes that digital transformation must happen in cautious, measured steps. The company’s objective is to help industries progress from automated to autonomous systems, while ensuring a safe and secure future.

The key takeaways from his presentation:

  • Technology and expertise must enable the deployment of safe, reliable, and secure IoT systems
  • The IT and OT domains will continue to experience both integration and “collision”
Ricky Watts, Director, Industrial Solutions, Wind River Lights the Traditional Lamp -  computing megatrends sptrends2.PNG

Computing Megatrends

Mr. Watts explained that Wind River looks at digital transformation through the lens of embedded real-time systems. Changes and upgrades must be implemented carefully so that there is no loss in productivity. He said that evolving market demands impact the business models, which are being swept by two huge waves – the generational upgrade model and a software-defined, autonomous world. The past and present collide when owners want legacy assets to move forward with new technologies. This must be carefully balanced. From a legacy perspective, assets that are reaching end of their lifecycle are costly to maintain and relatively inflexible, so there’s a requirement to modify/upgrade the infrastructure. At the same time, cloud-based technologies and the emerging promise of software-defined autonomy drive innovation. 

Mr. Watts explained that centralized, decentralized, and fluid computing megatrends are reshaping business structures.  Computing previously evolved from the mainframe to the client-server architecture and is moving to the cloud and the edge (fog architecture).  Now, he believes that specific things need to be done within the compute environment to enable people to use computing resources wherever they exist.  Mr. Watts referred to this as “fluid computing” that connects in all directions - north to south and east to west. 

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Collision of Domains

There is more integration and “collision” between the IT and OT domains, he said.  The IT sector has seen rapid innovation.  In his perspective, IT is more about connecting people and devices to the cloud, so if there’s an interruption it is usually momentary and can be set right.  But the OT environment is very different.  When devices and things are connected to processes, there can be no lapses in terms of time, safety, regulatory compliance, etc. So, it is vital to converge OT and IT at the edge of the network, including the need for non-stop computing for critical applications.  

He spoke about the legacy challenges of industrial systems (obsolescence, interoperability, outdated security features, lack of computing power, etc.) and the benefits that cloud computing offers, including both agility and scalability. Another major benefit of cloud computing is disaggregation of the hardware and software applications, which allows more flexibility in resource deployment.

Capability Islands

Interconnected “capability islands” (real-time, safety, security) are needed to build resilient autonomous systems. Increased connectivity raises a huge and ongoing security challenge. It is vital to create a secure environment. Mr. Watts explained that, at Wind River, software is secured through access control; and there is platform capability to lock the hardware.  Without a key, the software cannot be accessed. Another important requirement is the ability to react in real time to threats. Mr. Watts said that in a changing world in which collaborative robots (cobots), and people increasingly work together in the same environment, the characteristics of safety change and require certification.  The operational and infrastructure layers must be restructured to allow this island to coexist with the other islands and create an interconnected fabric. 

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From a real-time perspective of safety and certification he spoke about Linux and VxWorks being deployed in the aerospace and automotive industries. The new VxWorks converged platform is a hypervisor technology that allows time and space partitioning. This enables users to view legacy devices, cloud compute, and extend it out, without losing sight of things that require attention. He went on to speak about the Wind River Titanium Control industrial cloud platform launched about a year and a half ago. This was re-engineered for high availability, high performance, flexibility, and low latency. It supports multiple functions and platforms within the OT paradigm.

Concluding his presentation, he said that fluid computing is about connecting these islands through infrastructure orchestration and moving the functions to the edge of the network, while ensuring that it is safe, secure, reliable, and certified within the compute continuum. 


As a first-time participant and global sponsor at ARC’s India Forum (earlier this year Mr. Watts attended ARC’s Industry Forums in both Orlando and Barcelona), Wind River had the opportunity to share its valuable insights on digital transformation and OT-IT convergence with end users, peer companies, and ARC analysts. His presentation made it clear that digital transformation must be carefully planned and new systems only deployed after ensuring the safety and security aspects. OT-IT convergence is vital to synchronize and streamline processes to achieve operational excellence.

Wind River, with its expanding global presence, is helping industries grow by deploying new technologies.  

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Keywords: ARC India Forum, Wind River, Digital Transformation, Critical Infrastructure, Computing Megatrends, Capability Islands, Safety, Security, ARC Advisory Group.

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