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IoT + PaaS Usher in a Brand New World Advantech’s Secret Key to Success : WISE-PaaS R&D Team


The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a most potential new star in today’s industrial world, and IoT Platform as a Service (PaaS) is believed to be the key to open up the treasure box of enormous business opportunities.  Advantech Technology has been all out for establishing and promoting its WISE-PaaS IoT platform, with the hope to provide its business partners of System Integrators (SIs) a reliable, swift, integrated and modularized development and operation environment to accelerate the breeding of all kinds of IoT applications.    

For this the editorial staff of IoT.SENSE conducted an interview with Advantech IoT software services director Chiwen Lin to explore Advantech’s vision in developing the WISE-PaaS platform. The following is a brief summary of the interview:  

Q: We’d like to understand the market-positioning of Advantech’s WISE-PaaS platform.  
 In addressing IoT issues, Advantech has focused on the Industrial IoT (IIoT) segment, and played the role of an enabler for industrial applications. With such clearly defined self-positioning, Advantech has started from providing edge devices to PaaS cloud service solutions which can extend sensory nodes in the field level and connect to the cloud platform in the top level so as to help our SI partners realize the workflow of data acquisition, data processing, data analysis and data visualization and generate their targeted SaaS (Software as a Service) products.  

Q: Please share your views on the application trends of IoT PaaS.
In October 2017, the Chinese government released a whitepaper on IIoT, which has defined a framework for IoT PaaS cloud platform. The Advantech WISE-PaaS is very close to that architecture. The conventional cloud platforms emphasize the use of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) virtual machines, allowing users to access cloud applications via a Client/Server structure, which has encountered many challenges in the process of implementation. For this, Advantech released WISE-PaaS 2.0 in 2017 to realize a complete PaaS framework and help its customers solve their pain points.  
The Advantech WISE-PaaS 2.0 supports multi-tenancy architecture, has the ability to integrate heterogeneous data formats, and is able to scale up applications elastically. It also provides metering and billing functions to satisfy fee-charging requirements, as well as a dashboard template for data visualization. By leveraging the comprehensive components provided by our PaaS platform, the SI customers can realize data acquisition, processing, analysis and visualization step by step.

Q: Would you tell as more about the effort your WISE-PaaS Team has made in cloud service technologies and the results of your effort?  
Let me start with data acquisition. Advantech has been dedicated to developing edge intelligence systems, which integrate a great variety of industrial application protocols and a bunch of wireless communication technologies in order to unify data forms at terminal end with WISE Agent and upload the data to the WISE-PaaS cloud platform. In terms of data processing, the WISE-PaaS provides all kinds of database services including SQL, NoSQL and Time Series, so as to satisfy data processing requirements of different data formats.  
In addition, the Advantech WISE-PaaS integrates tools such as Spark, R, Caffe and TensorFlow to allow customers to use Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning algorithms to implement data analysis with ease. Finally, the platform provides Grafana dashboard to help our customers visualize data including overall system operating status, Focal Point (measurement for the achievement of the Critical Success Factors in Key Performance Indicators) and operating status at specific sites in a very easy-to-understand presentation method. Besides, the system also provides a great variety of functions, including metering, billing, SSO, Elastic Scaling, High Availability and Fault Tolerance, in order to fully satisfy the management requirements of intelligent applications. 
Q: Please talk about your team’s effort in integrating WISE-PaaS with Arm hardware platform and the results of your effort. And, what is your evaluation on Arm’s potentiality?  
For IoT, Arm has already rolled out Mbed platform, which integrates sensor nodes via MbedOS in the field and provides remote management and data protection mechanism to the client devices. At the network edge, the Mbed platform provides functions of data processing, protocol conversion and edge intelligence. Finally, the data is uploaded to Mbed Cloud to satisfy management requirements in the top layer, such as equipment management and control, remote firmware update and large scale deployment. The comprehensiveness of Arm Mbed’s cloud services in addressing user needs from sensory layer to the edge and the cloud coincides with the value asserted by Advantech in its WISE-PaaS platform. 
 As nowadays most sensory devices or wireless communication components in the field level of IoT are based on Arm architecture, Advantech believes Arm has high development potential in the IoT world and has been active in forming close operation tie with Arm. Now Advantech customers can use Mbed platform to collect data, which is integrated with database services on the WISE-PaaS platform via RESTful API. Such combination allows applications such as water resource management and smart agriculture to connect to the resources of both sides and enable device connection, management and update with enhanced end-to-end security.

Q: Please tell us the next step effort of your WISE-PaaS team in regard to Arm + WISE-PaaS platform and planned product roadmap.  
Though IoT applications appear to be diversified, each application scenario is moving to a more domain-focused direction. Advantech wishes to fully tap the integrated energy of WISE-PaaS and Arm platforms to provide solution-ready packages (SRPs) to each domain area. Take the application scenario of water treatment as an example, which needs to position many indoor and outdoor sensors, and a SRP package combining Cortex M architecture with BLE, ZigBee, LoRa or NB-IoT wireless sensory nodes can help to speed up the development of positioning function.  
Besides, we expect that in the future the edge will rely more and more on Container-based Virtualization Technology to implant rule engines developed on the cloud into the edge equipment via containers. Thus, higher-notched Arm Cortex A processors, which widely support a wide range of NB-IoT, LoRa or Sigfox wireless communication technologies and have ability for carrying out containers, are expected to provide ideal edge computing architecture.   The very beginning mind of Advantech in developing WISE-PaaS is to help customers breed IoT applications and realize so-called “digital transformation”. Thus we have worked very hard with our partners to co-invent many solutions and services.
This strategy jumps out of the conventional marketing models which emphasize specifications and licensing, in regard of providing customers with SRP, dashboard templates and integrated connection between sensor nodes and the edge end. Undoubtedly, Arm is our indispensable partner on the way to create value chain of digital transformation.