As the embedded systems grow increasingly interconnected, fragmentation is becoming a major problem. Consider a service station with pumps, point-of-sale (POS) systems, digital signage, and surveillance cameras. If each system uses a unique platform—which is often the case—connecting everything to the cloud can be a major headache. Now expand the problem to an entire chain of stations, which have installed incompatible systems at different points in time. Integrating all of these systems can be nigh-impossible.
The new Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework solves the problem with a set of interoperable solutions that can scale across applications. The framework brings together hardware, OSs, and software for connectivity, security, manageability. The new approach promises to lower deployment costs, ease integration, and enable innovative services. The end goal is an easier, faster path to making buzzwords like Machine to Machine (M2M), Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data a reality.
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So what is the Intel Intelligent Systems Framework? One way to think of it is a set of recipes for connected devices. Intel has specified key ingredients than can be flexibly combined, including:
- Processor platforms (including Intel® Atom™, Intel® Core™ and Intel® Xeon® )and related tech like Intel® vPro and Intel® TXT, as well as a range of I/O for flexible communications
- OSs including Microsoft* Windows*, Wind River* Linux*, and Wind River* VxWorks*
- Security including McAfee Embedded Control and McAfee Deep Defender
- Remote manageability capabilities that support third-party management consoles
In addition to identifying the key functionality, Intel is ensuring the compatibility of compliant solutions. It has already certified systems from members of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance including Advantech, Dell, Kontron, Portwell, and Wind River.
In addition to these key ingredients, Intel is working with system vendors, ISVs, and system integrators to create cloud-to-device services that build on the framework. Wind River and Digi International have already announced solutions, and additional solutions are scheduled to launch over the coming months from Arrow, Avnet, Axeda, and WebHouse. Intel’s vision is to enable rapid deployment across a wide range of industries including retail, smart grids, medical, communications, transportation, and manufacturing.
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Earlier today I spoke to Adam Burns, Director of Marketing for the Intelligent Systems Framework. Adam pointed out that deployment is typically 5X the cost of the systems itself. Reducing deployment costs can launch you on a virtuous cycle of continuous innovation. The way Adam sees it, the reduced costs free up budget to implement new, innovative features—and these new features can generate extra revenue for even more innovation. What’s more, building on the Intel Intelligent Systems Framework saves you from reinventing the wheel on every project, leaving more time to focus on new things.
Returning to the service station example, Adam noted the benefits that accrue from connecting everything together. When the pump is connected to inventory data, you can make sure it is advertising items that are actually in stock. And when you bring the POS data into the loop, you can see how successful the pump ads were in driving additional sales.
Adam pointed out three practical ways the service station could benefit from the Intelligent Systems Framework:
- If a device is connected, it needs to be secured. Integrating multiple security solutions into the backend will drive up costs—it is better to have a unified solution across the board.
- Having universal security and manageability features drives down total cost of ownership (TCO). For example, service calls are expensive, but the remote manageability in Intel® vPro has a small marginal cost. That gives the technology a very quick return on investment (ROI).
- Being able to quickly deploy the basic technology allows developers to focus on new services and opportunities. For example, the service station could add weather data to its pump adds so the pump would promote umbrellas during storms and sunglasses when the skies cleared.
The launch of the Intelligent Systems Framework is clearly a significant move for Intel and its partners in the Alliance. I expect that we will be hearing a lot more about this framework in the coming months, and I look forward to learning more as the story unfolds.
To learn more about building interoperable, standards-based solutions, visit intel.com/go/embedded-interoperability
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance
Editor-In-Chief Embedded Innovator magazine
Follow me on Twitter: @kentonwilliston