In this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, VANTIQ Co-Founder and CEO Marty Sprinzen joins us to talk about some of the practical aspects of IoT. Marty shares lessons learned by putting the VANTIQ platform to the test and transforming the VANTIQ HQ into a smart office for workplace safety and health.
Marty shares some important considerations for development, including real-time application development, the need for fully distributed architecture, and how the cloud and edge must work together to create efficient, effective IoT applications and products. He also shares some advice for companies on the fence about implementing IoT due to either the complicated nature of development or uncertainty around data value.
Interested in connecting with Marty? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
About COMPANY: VANTIQ was founded five years ago by Marty Sprinzen and Paul Butterworth, the duo who founded and ran Forte before selling it to SUN in 2000 for $500 million. While already in demand for its ability to help companies deploy real-time, IOT applications quickly, VANTIQ has taken off like a rocket with the onset of COVID. Governments, organizations and businesses worldwide are looking to VANTIQ to help them get back to work and life – safely, securely and as soon as possible. In May, the company released its Back to Work Accelerator.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(0:53) Intro to Marty Sprinzen
(2:46) Intro to VANTIQ
(6:13) What are some use cases you can share?
(10:37) Why is real-time application development important?
(13:21) What have been some of the biggest challenges when working with customers?
(14:59) How do the cloud and the edge work together?
(17:49) What advice do you have for companies on the fence about IoT who maybe think it’s more complicated than they need or that the value isn’t there?
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– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT for our podcast on the IoT For All media network. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon, one of the co-creators of IoT For All. Now, before we jump into this episode, please don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or join our newsletter @ IoT fraud.com/newsletter to catch all the newest episodes as soon as they come out. Before we get started, if any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor Leverage’s IoT solutions development platform, which provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to IoTchangeseverything.com that’s IoTchangeseverything.com. So without further ado please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All podcast. Welcome Marty to the IoT For All show. Thanks for being here this week.
– [Marty] Thanks for having me here.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s great to have you. I’m excited to kind of learn a little bit more about Van SQL and kind of your experiences in the IoT space. Let’s start off by just having you introduce yourself for our audience. You know, give a little background information anything you think would be relevant for our audience to know and learn about your experiences.
– [Marty] Okay. I’ve been in the industry quite awhile, Silicon Valley five software companies, four of them were involved in the application development area as is the current one Vantiq. And this company I think is a little different than anyone before. And obviously I can get into that.
– [Ryan] Yeah, for sure. I’d love to hear a little bit more about kind of the companies from the past, not heavily detailed but what areas of technology were they in and how did that kind of lead to the founding of Vantiq?
– [Marty] Okay, the first company I was in, was in IBM mainframe performance monitoring tool set called a company called Candle. Next one was a company called Ingris. So it was a database company. And there we did develop a set of tools against the database to automatically generate applications. And then I was in a case company for a while called Nustech in Detroit, and did requirements definition. This is back about in 1990 and then Paul Butterwort and I who were together at Ingris. I was VP of engineering, he was CTO, formed a company called Forte Software. And what Forte Software was about building applications for the internet, but mission critical applications without requiring a mainframe. So for example, a home banking on New York city’s 911 system, E-ZPass system, internet systems that were truly mission critical. Back in the 90s sold it to a Sun Micro systems and then Vantiq was started five and a half years ago.
– [Ryan] Wow, okay. So in the founding of Vantiq, what was the opportunity you all saw in the market and kind of what led to its founding?
– [Marty] Well first I’ll tell you a short kind of funnier coincidental story. So I had an idea and the idea was that the next generation of computing is gonna be different than anything before, so it’s gonna be real time, naturally distributed and so on. And again, I can get into lots of detail there. And I thought about this, and I said, there weren’t enough or adequate tools on the market or platforms to develop applications for this new world. And I called a friend of mine and he said to me, “Do you know what Paul’s doing?” And as I mentioned, my CTO at Ingris, Paul Butterworth and I had worked together twice before and independently we both had the same exact idea. This next generation environment real-time environment is gonna require a whole new set of application development deployment and management systems. And we got together and we said, ‘Hey, our ideas are very similar, “let’s start a company.” And then five and a half years ago, Vantiq was formed to basically address this need of these whole new environments real-time computing.
– [Ryan] So, a second ago, you kind of alluded to this being the most challenging company. Can you explain kind of why and what your experiences have kind of taught you into, as it relates to the success you’re having at Vantiq.
– [Marty] The world’s getting more complex, technology’s getting more complex, obviously, IoT is in and of itself very complex, but then you add to it edge computing, which is a major trend. It’s gonna be ultimately bigger than the cloud because software is gonna be everywhere. And then you add to it AI, running on the cloud, running on the edge, and then connectivity to everything from legacy systems, to new next generation systems that are being built and added on this level of complexity is a different and more challenging than ever before. And this is why Forbes had an article that said the failure rate for building these next generation applications was greater than 72%.
– [Ryan] We’ve seen that, stats very similar to that just in the general kind of assessment of IoT solutions across the board, without cuffs especially ones that get to the pilot stage and then don’t get out of the pilot stage. So I guess banding on a little bit more about the company before we dive into some other topics I’d love to understand a little more detailed level, exactly Kind of what Vantiq does and what you’re offering to the market, kind of the role you play in IoT and kind of how you see that you all fitting in the space.
– [Marty] Okay. So the major thing is we reduce the complexity of these distributed IoT, AI environments where you could think of us as a layer above it, we kind of virtualize it. And the reason why this is needed is because of their complexity. As I mentioned before, the reason it’s being driven that these absolutely built is because of climate change, sustainability requirements, safety, security and much more advanced operations in it than companies have ever done before. This is the move to real-time computing and it’s gonna be bigger than anything we’ve ever seen.
– [Ryan] So to bring this full circle for our audience what are some use cases or solutions that you either have built yourself or that you are working with other partners to build that have been deployed? I know there were something mentioned about turning your headquarters into a smart office was you know, for safety and then workforce health. But I just curious kind of across the board where you all focus and what are some interesting kind of real life examples of your application of the technology?
– [Marty] Okay, so a couple of examples I’ll give one is smart building SoftBank, who’s a partner of ours built what they believe is the most advanced smart building or smart city as they call it in the world. It’s their Taka Sheba headquarters which is really kind of a campus in Tokyo that they’re moving into now. And what the set of applications do is they monitor for safety. So for example, if somebody has fallen in an elevator and hurt they’ll see it an EMT will be dispatched immediately or somebody is being attacked again through video cameras located throughout the premises it will be observed by the system and then the closest security personnel will be notified to go to that site immediately. Other types of capabilities are you could walk up to one of the supermarkets or food outlets that are located on the premises take something off the shelf and you’re automatically charged, automatically cleaning the place through robots. Also very interesting, they’re gonna add advertising focused advertising because they know who is who, and also security like letting people in the locations that they’re approved to go to et cetera. So there’s a whole slew of capabilities. And again, they believe this is the most advanced smart building in the world and they got to resell it over and over and over again. So SoftBank has of course, a Telco at the basic level is now adding value to their networks and resell applications over their networks. There’s another company in Japan that I’ll mention because I thought this was very innovative what they’re doing. Company’s name is Daikin and they’re the number one manufacturer of air conditioners in the world. And what they wanna do is they wanna supply air as a service. Now, first, that sounds a little strange, what do you mean air as a service?
– [Ryan] Yeah right, yeah, what do you mean by that?
– [Marty] So what they wanna do is guarantee service levels. So obviously temperature would be one of them but this air conditioning heating humidity would be another, air quality would be another. And they’re gonna control all of the systems to assure those within the correct service levels, depending upon time of day, energy usage, how hot it is outside, et cetera this system will enable the customers to be hopefully a lot happier and that they don’t have to deal with all the individual systems. Another example of smart grids. So the electric grids are changing dramatically with obviously solar wind batteries from electric vehicles potentially attached and managing this is very different than it’s ever been. It used to be there. Lot of generators users and the electricity kind of flowed one way. Now you’ll have inputs of power all over the grid and that requires much more intelligent management to assure there are no blackouts and it’s most efficient. And so we have two situations where through IoT loads of IoT sensors, logic both in the cloud and on the edge where we’re monitoring and managing the grid. One is in Israel, electric energy and another one is in China. So very interesting real-time applications if you’re monitoring and acting on a grid that is clearly real time that smart building was a safety and security clearly real time. And just to tie this back to a comment I made earlier, building these systems is so complex that two of the companies I mentioned, I probably shouldn’t say who and won’t failed, one of them twice trying to build these applications with Vantiq they’re up and running.
– [Ryan] So, let me ask you, as we kind of expand on this real time application development theme here what’s important for people that say that are new to IoT or trying to better understand IoT. What’s important for them to understand when it comes to the value of time application development and how that’s a key in IoT providing value in and of itself as a technology but also integrating in with existing business operations and not just being a simple dashboard for people to can interact with. Talk about more like at a larger level why this is an important element for IoT success.
– [Marty] Okay, I mentioned some of the challenges earlier, like it’s edge computing, so it’s distributed it could be AI edge and so on. So architecture is very important, but even more important than that, if you moving into these IoT real-time systems all of a sudden you’re dealing with hardware. So often you have organizations that were primarily software organizations, like most IT organizations and now they have to install hardware and that’s a whole new set of challenges. So what they have to do is get a system integrators partners who are experienced to doing this. Now we know this firsthand because we have the back-to-work accelerator we created, which is a set of capabilities to enable people to go back to work in the time of COVID. So it does things like monitors to assure people are wearing masks, are keeping the right distancing, there are only so many people in that room, et cetera. A whole number of functions to do that, we had to install edge computers, we had to install cameras, we had to install other IoT sensors all around our headquarters and we firsthand experienced it and we realized how challenging it is. That is the single biggest challenge. Then comes the architecture, as I mentioned, you’ve got to think through various issues. I’ll give one example to make it a little more concrete. As I mentioned earlier, I was VP of Engineering at a database company. So many years ago, I was the one out there saying yes SQL databases as a future, et cetera, et cetera with real-time systems, databases have to be an afterthought. You do not have the time to put everything into a database and then analyze it. You’ve got to analyze the streaming data as it comes in, make decisions, maybe act on it, store what’s appropriate because you may wanna use it later on for machine learning. But that’s a typical example of a challenge we see when people architect these systems, when you’re dealing with real-time events driven, you got to think differently.
– [Ryan] So, how does that kind of play into, or I guess what have you encountered when working with customers who maybe have, are not aware of these these nuances that are important for people to be thinking about, especially as it relates to existing legacy systems and integrating in with their current operations on the business side, what have been some of the biggest challenges and biggest things you’ve had to overcome or help educate customers on?
– [Marty] One of the key ones is the one I mentioned the database one and the other one is what do you analyze at the edge, what do you filter? I’ll give an example to make it a little more concrete. We have a partner in China who is basically monitoring and operating all of the commercial elevators in Shanghai. everyone, now they do facial recognition, of course, it’s legal there and so on, they also monitor the elevator for safety, is it working properly? Did somebody fall on the floor at night, are they lying there and then they’ll call the appropriate people. So there’s analysis, some of which is done in the elevator right next to the camera, for example and some of which is done remotely in the cloud. And all of the real time stuff in the elevator cannot go to a database first, that’s an example of a system that we had to help architect, or re-architected to get the performance out of it that was required. So there’s a concrete example of the types of issues that people can face and architecture is critical. We will work with many of our customers to help them assure that the design of the system is appropriate.
– [Ryan] So as you kind of talk about architecture, a lot of our listeners who are new to the space kind of hide a high level understand what it is, but a big question and you’re talking about this and hitting on this a good bit, and I’d love for you to expand on it is kind of how the cloud and edge need to work together for large scale IoT projects especially on the enterprise side. So I think there’s definitely value in our audience. They understand the cloud piece and the edge piece, but how they work together and the importance of that, I think is something that is cannot be understated. And I’d love for you to kind of expand on the importance of that and kind of what advice you have for companies on that front.
– [Marty] Sure, the point that you’re bringing up is exceedingly valid to have to look at what is gonna run on the edge and what’s gonna run in the cloud and you’ve got to really think it through. So I already mentioned the database. You’re not gonna store stuff in a database on the edge typically but you are gonna get a lot of data coming in from IoT sensors, potentially video cameras. And you wanna filter that data, aggregate the data, compare it to other data in real time. So you might have information coming in from cameras at the same time, other sensors, say acoustic sensors, and that logic typically will run on the edge as an example. So they’ve got to think through what makes sense running on the edge, and it’s not all that difficult but you’ve got to pay attention to it. And then what makes sense running on the cloud on the cloud would be longer term storage, maybe further AI analysis. In fact, you may have quick AI analysis in the edge is that a person that’s walked into the elevator is the person to have an object they shouldn’t have or something like that. And then later on, if it’s loud maybe some images will be sent to the cloud to identify who that person is that would naturally have to go to the cloud. As a general default, whatever can be done on the edge that doesn’t require longterm storage should be done on the edge. There is a phenomenon occurring right now we’ve heard this from some of our partners and customers far too much data is being sent to the cloud, but what purpose most of it will never ever be even looked at. It’s repetitive, and you’re charged for it. So it could become pretty expensive. So filtering aggregation on the edge those are just some examples. There are many other concerns, but it’s not that complex. One more one I wanna mention is the dynamic nature of these systems. You’ll take a first guess at what you go where, you may need to change it maybe for performance reasons, the latency from the cloud is taking too long and therefore you have to change what’s running on the cloud and maybe move some of that logic to the edge or vice versa.
– [Ryan] Yeah, that’s, that’s great. And as you kind of talk about complexity I know the more you break down the components and the value of IoT, I think the more people understand it but I will say we’ve encountered a lot of situations where companies who maybe they’re decision makers are not the most technical individuals when they hear about IoT and try to understand what IoT is, they do have hesitations about adopting due to the apparent complexity which I think I can understand and relate to because there are a lot of different components that need to be understood. So I wanted to ask you, how do you as a company and what advice do you have for companies out there on how to break through that conversation where companies don’t think they need IoT, because in reality in order for IoT to really reach its true potential we need more companies to adopt IoT. And I think a big area of that is enabling and making them understand how it’s not as complex as they think and the value of them being able to kind of act on the data that these sensors are collecting. So I’d just love to get your thoughts on how you approach that challenge and what advice you have for companies who are kind of on the fringe and trying to understand the value of IoT for their business.
– [Marty] Well, the business issue is the primary drivers. So I mentioned earlier company Daikin who is gonna be selling errors of service. Now, once they do that, other suppliers are gonna have to follow a suit to stay in business, to provide that same level of functionality at least on the high end. And so therefore there are often business needs to do it. I also mentioned the smart city smart building that SoftBank built. And once their building offers these type of capabilities other buildings are gonna have to do the same thing to compete for tenants. So there is the business need. Now to your point about how do they get around this hurdle of moving into the IoT world? The quickest and best way is to work with experienced partners, partners who’ve done it before system integrators. Now, I will say that many of the biggest size are still learning. And so therefore they’ve got to be careful in choosing them. There is another phenomenon that’s occurring and that is that the Telcos are building out these networks. Everyone knows about 5G, but these computers on the edge called MECs are basically mini clouds that run say along a highway, et cetera. And by them building these networks out right now it looks like they are the best positioned to get all of these edge computers out there. Now, there may be others but so many Telcos are building these edge computers and they’re needed for real-time processing like a car moving down a highway or a drone as the or people, anything that moves really once they lay out these networks, it’s kind of like they’re laying out a digital nervous system. Once it’s all there, then building the applications will be a lot easier. We’re working with a number of them to get our applications running on their MECs. And so there’s hope down the road for these edge computers distributed computing that the infrastructure is gonna be laid out in a easier to deploy manner. Easier to deploy
– [Both] Applications.
– [Ryan] Right, right, right. Yeah, that’s, that’s great. I totally agree with you. This conversation has been fantastic. I wanted to end with an opportunity to just kind of share any type of maybe upcoming announcements news or anything exciting kind of going on over at Vantiq that would be that our audience to keep a look out for. And then on top of that, if our audience has questions or any follow up or interest in that regard what’s the best way to connect with the organization?
– [Marty] Okay, sure. Okay, in terms of futures, I’ll touch upon something we think is gonna make a pretty significant change in the industry. Gartner calls it by the name composable enterprise and we’re working on something very, very similar to what their direction is and what it basically is is using building applications as if you were building things from Lego blocks. So you take this component, that component, that component, modify them a little bit, put them together but these are business components. It’s kind of similar to what object oriented programming did for programmers, but this is a much higher level. So you’ll have like components that can identify how many people are in various locations for various purposes, also picking on COVID, how many people are social distancing appropriately in the locations. So these are business components that could be combined together to build out a full application we’re working on that, we believe we will be the first company to offer it for real time systems, for the event driven Types of systems
– [Marty] We talked about.
– [Ryan] That’s fantastic. And if anybody kind of wants to follow along and kind of just follow the progress of the company, reach out, ask questions, what’s the best way to do that?
– [Marty] Our website, of course, has a lot of information and you can contact us directly on the website. But I also wanna mention that the website has a lot of white papers there’s one of the digital twins, because a lot of the applications that we’re describing really fit that paradigm. There’s another one in collaboration. We didn’t speak about it but these systems are gonna require humans to be intimately involved because they’re very complex. And so there are white papers on there for more information and of course, contact information.
– [Ryan] Fantastic, well, we’ll make sure we share all that with our audience. I think they get a lot of value out of that ’cause it ties a lot. It probably ties into the conversation here today which again, I, you taking the time to do. I think our audience is gonna find a lot of value in it and we really appreciate it. Thanks again. All right, everyone, thanks again for joining us this week on the IoT For All podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode and if you did please leave us a rating or review and be sure to subscribe to our podcast on whichever platform you’re listening to us on. Also, if you have a guest you’d like to see on the show please drop us a note at [email protected] and we’ll do everything we can to get them as a featured guest. Other than that, thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next time.