By Jim Salter
Researchers at Brigham Young University have created a new RF protocol that runs on top of existing consumer Wi-Fi at significantly greater range. But before you get too excited, the protocol’s bandwidth is extremely low—so much so that it makes LoRa look like an OC-24. The protocol, called ONPC—short for On-Off Noise Power Communication—currently only specifies a single bit per second.
Although ONPC only conveys one bit per second of data, its range is 60m or more beyond Wi-Fi—and it runs in software alone, on unmodified Wi-Fi hardware. An ONPC device can connect to standard Wi-Fi when range permits, fall back to ONPC mode if the connection drops, and then re-connect to the Wi-Fi when it becomes available again.
Disconnected versus unpowered
BYU Associate Professor of Computer Engineering Phil Lundrigan told Ars that ONPC was inspired by problems in an otherwise unrelated health care research project he’d worked on. The project required placing IoT sensors in the homes of study participants so that BYU’s control over the environment was minimal to nonexistent. The project also required the sensors to report back to the researchers over the Internet, using whatever Wi-Fi the study participants had in place.
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“Live-streaming a virtual-reality broadcast. Downloading a 90-minute high-definition TV show to your smartphone in less than three seconds. Sending instant updates on road conditions to self-driving vehicles. These scenarios are impossible or prohibitively expensive on current cellular networks, but they should be feasible with the next generation of wireless connectivity, 5G. It promises to be 10 to 20 times faster than today’s cell-phone networks,” Elizabeth Woyke, MIT Technology Review
“With worldwide 5G revenues estimated at €225 billion in 2025, 5G is a key asset for Europe to compete in the global market and its cybersecurity is crucial for ensuring the strategic autonomy of the Union. On this basis, Member States should update existing security requirements for network providers and include conditions for ensuring the security of public networks, especially when granting rights of use for radio frequencies in 5G bands,” European Council conclusions on a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks
“Europe has long been one of the world’s foremost innovation hubs. To continue holding its own in an increasingly competitive global market, we believe stakeholders across the region need to unite to establish some key initiatives,” William Xu, Huawei’s Director of the Board and President of the Institute of Strategic Research
Technology giant Huawei and Europe has a long story together. Huawei’s presence in Europe started some 20 years ago and, since then, the company has been establishing itself as a driver of innovation in the deployment of critical technological infrastructure of ICTs, collaborating with governments across the European Union as well as positioning itself as a leader in sales of peripherals and devices.
This story continues as the collaboration between the Chinese telecom and Europe’s institutions are about to get boosted by the announcement of a whole array of joint programs and innovative projects in the areas of ICT such as 5G deployment, AI and Innovation 2.0.
“Huawei has been operating in Europe for many years. Over the last 30 years, Huawei has invested intensively to make technological breakthroughs. We have focused on innovation in engineering, technology, and solutions to address customer needs. But as we move into what we call Innovation 2.0, we will focus on theoretical breakthroughs and technological inventions based on our vision for the future. We want to closely work with researchers and industries across Europe to jointly research and explore development trends, and increase our investments in talent training and collaboration with universities,” said recently Huawei’s Director of the Board and President of the Institute of Strategic Research William Xu.
This partnership is perhaps more crucial now than it has ever been before. Europe has traditionally positioned itself at the forefront of the technological race, though the Old Continent is starting to lag behind other countries in some critical areas. The newly formed European Commission has spotted this potential risk and has set itself the priority to achieve a true and open technological ecosystem as a joint effort for all countries in the European Union.
“The EU needs to go further in developing a competitive, secure, inclusive and ethical digital economy with world-class connectivity. Special emphasis should be placed on access to, sharing of and use of data, on data security and on Artificial Intelligence, in an environment of trust. The European Council looks forward to the Commission’s recommendation on a concerted approach to the security of 5G networks,” was stated by the European Council in March.
European institutions are also keen to protect Europe’s digital sovereignty to keep the digital space as safe and open as possible within the boundaries of the continent. This includes thoughtful regulation towards surveilling monopolies and fighting the data business, as well as improving cybersecurity solutions to tackle threats.
To achieve these ambitions goals, European governments need to speed up and invest in new technologies that are actually able to deliver these results. These include -and must account for- the use and deployment of new ICTs like 5G, Wi Fi 6 or IoT and to promote the implementation of AI in government driven services to ensure that the digital space in Europe is at the forefront in terms of digital transformation.
But to bring this technological boost to a good port, collaborations between nations and the private sector must be in place. And it is there that the Chinese ICT company Huawei has an important role to play.
Huawei’s impact in Europe
According to research carried out by Oxford Economics, Huawei’s current contribution in Europe has boosted its economy by €12.8 billion through its economic activity only in 2018 and it has supported the creation of 169,700 jobs either directly or through the supply chain. Huawei is among the companies leading the way in accomplishing the EU’s targets by building fast and reliable networks with all major European operators, and investing in research and development. Its 23 research facilities across 12 countries in Europe, and research programme involving 140 European universities, focusing on everything from wireless to optical technology, cloud computing and new materials are helping European industries strengthen their advantage in these areas.
“The new European Commission wants to deliver digital sovereignty for the EU by establishing a strong technological ecosystem across the continent. This report clearly shows Huawei to be among the top companies in Europe innovating the products and services that will help the EU accomplish its targets,” commented recently Abraham Liu, Huawei’s Chief Representative to the EU Institutions. “We are making a sizeable contribution to the EU economy, helping Europe improve productive capacity and ensuring its firms and industries are not left behind by the pace of digital transformation. Our aim now is to help the European Commission achieve its goal of making Europe ‘fit for the Digital Age’.”
ICTs and the much needed boost of 5G deployment
Besides the company’s effort in R&D and partnerships with universities to enhance digital inclusion and promote sustainable development in Europe, where Huawei most excel is at deploying ICT related technologies. In this context, the penetration of new ICTs is something that should deeply concerns governments, 5G implementation is still far from where it should be, with only Germany and the United Kingdom really exploring an achievable strategy for a mass launch sometime in 2020.
Huawei is working with European carriers to deploy high-speed, low-latency 5G networks. 5G and other advanced technologies will improve the connectivity across Europe and empower the digital transformation of European industries. “5G networks, new-generation chips, and new data processing software will accelerate digital transformation. AI, IoT, and robots will stimulate digital innovation over the next five years. 5G is significantly impacting industries such as media, healthcare, energy, transportation, the automotive industry, logistics, and manufacturing,” said François Barrault, Chairman of Europe’s think tank IDATE DigiWorld.
Huawei, FESTO and Quicktron, for example, jointly demonstrated bringing low-cost AGV connections, ultra-high bandwidth, ultra-low latency and seamless roaming capabilities through Wi-Fi 6 + 5G + optical switching to meet the wide-area mobile requirements of the campus in the digital transformation of the manufacturing industry.
The company’s commitment to Europe has also been shaped by newly formed partnerships with European companies working towards the Union’s goals. Huawei has worked out more than 20 alliance and solution partners including Orange Business Services, Intel, SUSE, T-systems, Dedalus, and Wipro to demonstrate their solutions and success cases in seven major industries: Intelligent City, manufacturing, finance, energy, transportation, retail and healthcare.
The AI Ecosystem Program: €100m In 5 Years
And recently, Huawei has officially announced a new AI Ecosystem Program with an investment of 100 million euros in the next 5 years that aims to help industry organizations, 200,000 developers, 500 ISV partners, and 50 universities and research institutes to boost innovation. The focus will be put into three different -but related- aspects: to improve regulations and standards on AI ethics and security together with the European AI Alliance and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI); to work with the Big Data Value Association (BDVA) to promote the AI Public-Private Partnership (PPP) across the EU, helping boost AI research and vertical industry development and to nurture the AI university ecosystem in Europe through academic platforms, like the Falling Walls Foundation.
Huawei has a long story in Europe, a story of success in bringing innovation -nonetheless, the company helped deploy 3G and 4G infrastructure in many countries. These type of collaborations as just needed in today’s world. Mostly because digital transformation is an ongoing process that has been boosted by technological breakthroughs researched and deployed in recent years. We are going through a new industrial revolution, the 4IR, where almost every societal interaction will be made using technology, one way or another.
The scope of this digital transformation is such that has kicked off a sort of race between businesses and countries to see who will reach the advantage point faster and with better and more reliable technology. Neither nations nor corporations are in a position to carry out this effort alone and collaboration seems inevitable to stand out in this highly competitive world. And that is what Huawei and Europe’s institutions have been doing for 20 years now.
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Microsoft announced today its plans to adopt DNS over HTTPS (DoH) protocol in Windows and will also keep other options such as DNS over TLS (DoT) on the table for consideration. “[S]upporting encrypted DNS queries in Windows will close one of the last remaining plain-text domain name transmissions in common web traffic,” noted company in a post.” Microsft further notes: “For our first milestone, we’ll start with a simple change: use DoH for DNS servers Windows is already configured to use. There are now several public DNS servers that support DoH, and if a Windows user or device admin configures one of them today, Windows will just use classic DNS (without encryption) to that server. However, since these servers and their DoH configurations are well known, Windows can automatically upgrade to DoH while using the same server.”
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Sprint’s Curiosity IoT platform will be available in Detroit, Michigan, via the deployment of Packet’s software in EdgeConneX’s data center in the city.
By Alex Woodie
We are instrumenting everything around us at a frenetic pace with the hope of using all that sensor data to improve our situational awareness and decision-making capability. But how do we plumb all the systems together in a simple and cohesive manner? That, in a nutshell, is the purpose of an event mesh, an emerging product category you’re likely to hear more of in the future.
Shawn McAllister, the CTO of Solace, is an expert on event meshes and recently briefed Datanami on the emerging field. As McAllister explains it, event meshes help to virtualize and simplify access to event data in the same way that service meshes help to virtualize and simplify access to IT services.
“An event mesh is another layer in your network that delivers events to you, no matter where you happen to be,” McAllister says. “It gives you the ability to take applications that may be deployed in your legacy environment, in your private cloud, and multiple public cloud environments, and have all those applications are able to interact and to receive whatever events they’re interested in.”
The event mesh starts with event brokers that are deployed close to the item being monitored, McAllister continues. Those event brokers are typically installed next to your legacy applications, which can now emit events into the event mesh, which routes them to consuming applications on the other side of the network.
It’s all about shrinking the physical world and making it more connected. Remote field locations, such as gas stations or grocery stores, can now be the source of an event that triggers an action half a world away. That means events, like puchacing gasoline, could trigger a machine learning system running in the Google Cloud to give the customer an offer, via the pump’s video screen, to get a discount on energy drinks purchased in the gas station’s mini-mart.
Gartner is a big backer of the importance of events (and thus event data) in the enterprise. In 2018, the company said that 80% of new business ecosystems will require support for event processing. And by 2022, Gartner says that event-sourced situational awareness will be a “required characteristic” for new business solutions.
Gartner backs the event mesh concept in its vision for platform architectures (image courtesy Solace)
Solace’s software allows companies to implement event meshes in their IT architecture. Its offerings include a distributed publish and subscribe (PubSub) messaging bus that can push events over the network in a fast and reliable manner. The company also provides event broker software for seeding the events into the network.
“What you do is deploy event brokers in each location, each close to the applications,” McAllister says. “So event brokers, and the event mesh they form, take responsibility for persistent or lossless delivery of events, in order, with security, with robustness, with performance, distributed to these many places.”
Solace has quietly built a business around the event mesh concept. The company, which is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario and has 15 offices around the world, employs more than 250 people and owns 24 patents related to event meshes. Its software is used with event meshes used by large banks, automakers, telecommunications firms, and air traffic control stations around the world.
“We have customers where we manage their elevators, we connect their cars, we connect their factories,” McAllister says. “So these things are becoming very intelligent and you want to connect them into your event-driven enterprise. So as you sell Big Macs, you put some promotion online. You want to do real-time inventory and do real-time offers at gas pumps and things like that based on me swiping my loyalty card.”
More Than Stream Processing
Solace attended the recent Kafka Summit event in San Francisco. While there is some overlap with Apache Kafka, which also implements a distributed PubSub messaging bus, there are key differences in the capabilities that Solace and Kafka offer, McAllister says.
“From the Kafka point of view, it’s very tailored to streaming and stream processing,” he says. “Yes, it does PubSub. But if you look at other requirements in the enterprise, there are lots of situations where having a Kafka client library kind of just doesn’t cut it.”
For example, if a customer wants to the ability to not only receive data from an IOT device but also have the ability to control it, they would need to take a different approach, such as using MQTT protocol, he says.
“Do companies like Confluent have an MQTT adapter? Yes,” McCallister continues. “The thing is, that is used for data aggregation into the Kafka cluster. For reasons of topic scalability and real-time [notifications], the ability of that application to do command control back to devices is not at all well suited for going thought Kafka to an MQTT adapter out to that device.”
There are multiple ways to string event-emitting applications together, and each approach brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The advantage that event meshes bring is reducing the technological complexity for the developer when connecting existing applications with event-emitting devices on the IoT.
For example, say a developer needs to write a program that does something whenever somebody open a new account. How would the developer go about doing that? With an event mesh, a lot of the underlying architecture is already built for them.
“What I would do is I would find the event that’s emitted when somebody opens an account. I would subscribe to that event, and then I would be notified every time that happens,” McAllister says. “If my event processing is infrequent, I can do it as a function. It could be Lambda in AWS or Kubernetes, for example.”
Building on an event mesh framework protects the developer from much of the underlying complexity and dependencies that would otherwise be required to build an integrated event-driven architecture, McAllister says.
“The application that opens the customer account doesn’t know, and doesn’t need to know, who else cares about the event,” he says. “So he can just announce to the event mesh, ‘Hey there was an account open.’ And now from that point on, a whole bunch of applications can be built consuming the account open event or new customer event, and they can do a whole bunch of things without having to go back and change the application that opens the account.”
Plumbing for Events
With the event mesh architecture already established, developers can build more complex event-driven applications faster than if they had to instrument the applications themselves.
“What we see is that your legacy applications, whether they run on a mainframe or system of record like SAP or Amdocs, or legacy messaging applications — these run your business. You can’t throw them away. You need to continue to leverage them,” he says. “But if you can make the things happen in those applications available across lines of business, in real time, to the various places that you are building applications, now you can become very agile with respect to ‘the business wants me to do X.’ Hey no problem. I’ll just subscribe to these events. I’ll get notified when something happens. Then I run my logic.”
Speaking of SAP, the German software giant has OEMed Solace into its own offerings. “SAP’s enterprise messaging in the cloud uses Solace technology inside,” McAllister says. “And S/4 HANA is natively event-enabled and pushes events into a Solace enterprise messaging layer.” Ariba is also a big user of the Solace tech, he says.
McAllister worked in network routing for many years, while Heinz Schaffner, the principal technologist at Solace, worked at TIBCO for many years. This gives the technologists a different perspective on how to connect data in the emerging IoT world.
“We’re solving this problem of real-time reliable event distribution to many different places and being able to connect into SaaS applications, microservice applications, etc., at the edges of the mesh, and to do this reliable with performance and security,” McAllister says. “You don’t want applications to have to do this. You don’t want bespoke integration. You don’t want pair-wise integration. You need security built into your infrastructure. I very much view this as a layer that people need to have in their enterprise for many of the same reasons that service mesh is an accepted layer in your Kubernetes environment.”
The IoT, the arrival of 5G mobile broadband, and advances in edge computing are moving the data center and the real world closer together. Enterprises that find ways to augment existing systems in the data center with event-emitting devices in the field will find a competitive advantage. An event mesh may not be the only way to accomplish this, but it looks like it will be a contender in the years to come.
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