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Industrial IoT: Article

Exclusive Octoblu Interview @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley

Exclusive Interview: Co-Founders Geir Ramleth & @ThingsExpo Tech Chair Chris Matthieu

With Octoblu emerging from stealth mode, it seemed like a good idea to talk to a couple of key people there. We were able to do just that with company co-founders Geir Ramleth and Chris Matthieu.

Geir Ramleth serves as CEO. He was named to CIO Magazine's Hall of Fame in 2008, and served as SVP/CIO of the Bechtel Group for more than a decade during his career. Chris Matthieu serves as CTO and has a global reputation as an innovator in emerging technologies. Chris also serves as our Tech Chair at @ThingsExpo.

Octoblu will utilize Meshblu (formerly code named SkyNetIM), an open source machine-to-machine (M2M) instant messaging platform that Chris created. Meshblu can be used for the discovery, control and management of any API-based software application, any hardware or appliance, or social media network.

Here's what we asked Chris, and here's what he had to say:

IOT Journal: This seems like a culmination of a lot of work you've previously done with SkyNet and other projects? How long have you had a vision for IoT connectivity?

Chris Matthieu: I've been watching the IoT space evolve for several years now. Our open source project, which is the basis for Octoblu Meshblu, came from an idea around M2M instant messaging.

With a market full of smart devices, sensors, and proprietary protocols, Meshblu will enable any device using any protocol to connect to a single IoT platform capable of discovering and messaging any other device.

Before creating SkyNet, I was building Twelephone, the WebRTC-powered Twitter telephone). This project was technically rewarding, but I soon realized that people seem to prefer messaging people throughout the day rather than actually "talking" to people as they work. This led me to the idea of people "chatting" with machines!

After numerous strategy sessions with Geir, we realized that both of these ideas (SkyNet and Twelephone) were closely related. However, they are only half of the story. We founded Octoblu to connect, control, and manage the communications and automation across people, things, systems, and clouds.

IoT Journal: What are your main technical priorities for the next year or so?

Chris: At this point we see the key technology areas for development as being in the areas of security and rights management, building broad and deep connectivity services, and continued hardening and platform flexibility for scalability of deployments.

IoT Journal: What key hurdles does the IoT industry face in achieving connectivity across platforms, apps, devices, and other "things"?

Chris: Although we will see that cross platform, apps, devices, etc. integration will be simplified, the technical challenges will be how to keep this coordinated and orchestrated in such a manner that we don't get "lost" in the details.

The hurdles will be that we have to also get meaningful integrations in the layers of security, rights management, quality of service and assurance of performance.

Geir also had some comments about the company and its relation to the IoT industry and environment:

IoT Journal: The IoT does certainly open new universes of possibilities? How chaotic is the connectivity/protocol landscape, and how are you addressing it?

Geir Ramleth: Consumer IoT is very fragmented, where each hardware manufacturer has its own applications, with no plan to bridge individual environments.

Part of the problem is that today, there are no clear standards or leaders in the connectivity/protocol landscape. This will continue to evolve, and we might eventually see clear winners emerge, such as we did some years ago when we got TCP/IP for networking.

However, until then, it will be important that we have services that can operate integration in a heterogeneous environment.We see this as a key role and core advantage for Octoblu, as our platform is built to connect any device using any protocol.

IoT Journal: When do you expect to see tangible results of your work, ie, and will it be in M2M, enterprise IT connectivity, personal IoT, or all?

Geir: It will be all of the above, as our vision is to connect, control and manage the communications and automation across people, things, systems and clouds.

We can't give too much information at this point on timing, but we expect that the broader based integration in this space will first be seen in the industrial space starting in the fall, and then later "backfill" into the personal environments.

IoT Journal: How does your membership in the AllSeen Alliance drive your vision, and how are you contributing to this effort?

Geir: The AllSeen Alliance is an important effort to standardize the connectivity/protocol challenges.

We fully support that and plan to contribute with resources and free tools to help connect, manage and secure environments. At the same time, we will also assure that we continue supporting older and other emerging efforts.

Contact me on Twitter


More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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