Monday, July 21, 2014

MassTLC, MassDevelopment, AUVSI Sign Agreement to Pursue New Robotic Test Site

Last week a group of leading public and private sector organizations descended upon the town of Devens, the former military base, with an eye towards the future, and towards solidifying Massachusetts’ position at the forefront of the robotics revolution. The group included senior leaders from MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC), the state’s largest technology association and organizer of the Mass Robotics Cluster, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the leading international organization for unmanned systems and robotics, the MITRE Corporation, Draper Laboratory, and others from the robotics community.

Top on the agenda was the creation of a controlled robotic test facility and Inter-Operability Playground with ground, air, water, residential, rural, indoor, and outdoor testing environments. Once created the facility would be a unique feature of the Massachusetts robotics landscape and would complement an existing regional testing infrastructure that includes the New England Research and Development (NERVE) Center, one of just three such NIST standard test facilities in the nation, operating out of UMass Lowell, and the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) Alliance, one of only six such FAA designated test sites in the nation, with operations at Joint Base Cape Cod.

According to a MassTLC report on The Massachusetts Robotics Revolution, Massachusetts is home to perhaps the most advanced robotics cluster in the nation. At the heart of this cluster are 35 robotics focused research and development programs across ten institutions in the state. Another eight institutions across New England have programs in nearby states. With land, air, sea, mobile, stationary, autonomous, health, marine, agriculture, logistics, and more, the Massachusetts cluster is pushing the boundaries of intelligent automation in many fields.

Conceived as a robotics “Inter-Operability Playground” for supporting the multiple systems that must communicate and coexists in the future, the proposed facility would include lab facilities, indoor and outdoor controlled test space, a command and control center, and future demonstration area.  The facility would provide individual labs for long-term use and/or temporary projects, with access to necessary test equipment, data archiving, hardware fabrication and repair assistance.  Test areas would also include range sensors and data collection. Once platforms are “certified” as safe, the proposal envisions the possibility of the community of Devens becoming a public demonstration site for commercial applications.

Goals of the site include:  Safety, Control and Situational Awareness, Instrumentation and Recording (analysis), and Education.  In the spirit of public-private sector collaboration, and in recognition of the economic development value of robotics and unmanned systems in MA/New England, the three sponsoring organizations:  AUVSI-NE, MassTLC and MassDevelopment signed a Memorandum of Understanding signifying their commitment to pursue this effort and promote the concept with their respective memberships and organizations.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mass Technology Leadership Council Announces Finalist for the 17th Annual Technology Leadership Awards


MassTLC Annual Celebration of Innovation Casts Spotlight on Executives, Companies, and
Innovative Technologies Across 16 Categories


July 16, 2014, Cambridge, Mass. –The Microsoft NERD Center played host to a cocktail reception last night during which the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) announced the slate of finalists for its 2014 Technology Leadership Awards. Several hundred members of the Massachusetts innovation community were in attendance, including this year’s award nominees representing the best of the region’s tech industry in 16 categories.

“The 17th annual MassTLC Leadership Awards once again shines a spotlight on the vibrancy of the state’s position as both pioneer and leader in technologies that are fueling Massachusetts’ economy and changing the world,” said Tom Hopcroft, president and CEO of Mass Technology Leadership Council. “The people, organizations and technology categories represented by the Technology Leadership Award finalists only scratch the surface of the breadth and depth of talent and innovative spirit that makes its home here in the Bay State.”

Finalists were selected from hundreds of nominations, as judged by panels of executives, investors, analysts, media and thought leaders in each of the 16 categories who participated in the selection process. The pool of finalists will be further narrowed during the coming weeks, with winners announced on Thursday, September 11, at the MassTLC Leadership Awards Gala at the Westin Waterfront in Boston. Details and advance registration are available at www.masstlcawards.org.

Finalists in each of the 16 categories include:

CEO of the Year: David Aldrich of Skyworks Solutions, Inc., Tom Erickson of Acquia, Stephen Kaufer of TripAdvisor, Niraj Shah of Wayfair, and Michael Simon of LogMeIn.

CTO of the Year: Joe Bondi of RunKeeper, Dries Buytaert of Acquia, Patrick Harding of Ping Identity, Daniel Theobald of Vecna, and Ron Zalkind of CloudLock.

Emerging Executive of the Year: Matthew Bellows of Yesware, Tim Bertrand of Acquia, Naomi Fried of Boston Children's Hospital, Emily Reichert of Greentown Labs, and Mike Volpe of HubSpot.

Private Company of the Year: Dyn, Fiksu, HubSpot, NetProspex, and Veracode.

Public Company of the Year: athenahealth, Demandware, EnerNOC, LogMeIn, and Pegasystems.

Start-up to Watch: clypd, CO Everywhere, Jebbit, RailPod Inc., and Ras Labs, LLC.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Big Data: EnerNOC for Energy Intelligence Software (EIS), HP Vertica for HP Vertica Flex Zone, Pixability, Inc for Data software., Prelert, Inc. for Anomaly detection software, and WordStream for AdWords Performance Grader PLUS.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Cloud: Backupify for Enterprise-grade platform, Carbonite for Carbonite Server, Content Raven for Cloud-based content distribution platform, Continuum Managed IT Services for Continuum Cloud Console, and Scribe Software.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Education Technology: EdTrips for EdTrips, eduCanon, Inc. for Online learning platform, JogNog for JogNog, Kaymbu Inc. for Kaymbu, and Listen Edition for Custom lesson plans.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Healthcare and Life Sciences: Catabasis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for CAT-2003, MC10 for Biostamp sensing systems, PHT Corporation for LogPad System, Seres Health for SER-109, and TrialNetworks for Clinical Trial Optimization System.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Internet of Things: Axeda for Axeda Private Cloud, LogMeIn for Xively Cloud Services platform, MachineShop for MachineShop Services Exchange, PTC for ThingWorx platform, and SystemOne for GxAlert.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Mobile Applications: Mustbin for Mustbin, Openbay for Openbay’s mobile app, Paydiant for Transaction processing platform, Ping4 Inc. for ping4alerts!, and SavingStar, Inc. for SavingStar mobile app.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Mobile Technology: Affirmed Networks for Affirmed Mobile Content CloudTM solution, Globoforce for Globoforce mobile, Modo Labs for Kurogo Mobile Campus, Scratch Wireless for Scratch, and SessionM for mPLACES.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Robotics: CyPhy Works, Inc. for PARC, Harvest Automation, Inc. for HV-100, iRobot Corporation for iRobot Ava 500, and Ras Labs, LLC for Synthetic.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Sales & Marketing: Acquia for Acquia Lift, InsightSquared for InsightSquared 3.0, Jebbit for Jebbit platform, Paytronix Systems, Inc. for Proprietary guest engagement platform, and Qstream for Qstream.

Innovative Technology of the Year – Security: Aurus Inc. for whizPay, CloudLock for CloudLock, Co3 Systems for Co3 Platform, Courion Corporation for Access Insight, and Intralinks and Intralinks VIA.


Click here to view the full list of finalist online, or go to: http://masstlcawards.org/2014/finalists.


Awards Program Platinum Sponsors: Aericon, Invest Northern Ireland, Microsoft, PwC, Skyscope

Gold Sponsors: CHEN PR, K Square Law, Raytheon

About The Mass Technology Leadership Council, Inc.

With more than 550 member companies, the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) is the region’s leading technology association and the premier network for tech executives, entrepreneurs, investors and policy leaders. MassTLC’s purpose is to accelerate innovation by connecting people from across the technology landscape, providing access to industry-leading content and ideas and offering a platform for visibility for member companies and their interests. More at www.masstlc.org

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

IoT Value of Things Conference


Recently, I had the privilege to present on IoT security, alongside Michael Curry of IBM, at the MassTLC “Value of Things” conference. You can see the slides here http://www.slideshare.net/MassTLC/andy-thurai-iot-security.

One of topics that I discussed, which resonated well with the crowd, was about IoTs (Internet of Things) doing both data collection and process control on the same device -- Not only on the same device, but also on the same plane most times. This means if someone has access to those data collection mechanisms they also get to control the processes as well, which could be dangerous in wrong hands.



Very often I see customers use the same device to both collect the data and control the systems. This is especially true in the so-called “industrial automation,” such as manufacturing, power grids, and other “smart” systems. Though these systems were put in place long before the IoT, they are getting Internet enabled now, which is a little scary. This is because security for these networks was not of prime importance as most of these controllers were on private, and most times completely isolated networks. Now putting these devices, and their associated isolated networks, on the Internet, without beefing up the security, is asking for disaster.

The SCADA systems (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition systems) and the larger ICS (Industrial Control Systems) all fall in this category. They were all built before the current IOT infestation (and I am one of those guys who started his career with working on those systems waaay back when) so you can’t really blame the way it was built. For the time it was built, for the purpose it was built, and for the network it was built, I think it was a solid design. But you need to be very careful when you put them on the Internet.

This could be a problem because if the hackers get access to your network to steal data for monetization purposes they can also control your network to cause chaos.  Generally, the hackers try to break into your system for one of two reasons. Either they want to steal your data so they can monetize it (cc, finance data, etc.) or they want to disrupt your system to cause chaos (power grid interruption, supply chain failure, etc.). If, and in some cases it is just a matter of when, the bad guys break into your systems for one of the above reasons, giving them opportunity to do the other is the worst case scenario which could lead to very disastrous results.
To begin with, this is a clear violation of separation of duties/responsibilities by mixing and matching. This is not even counting data collection mixing with control signals. The reason why this is so important is the fact is that if one of them is compromised then the other will be too.

Granted this is a more difficult problem to solve because the device footprints are generally tiny. You can’t have parallel devices doing multiple things. But before you put these things on the Internet you will be better off doing a process and security architecture review of these things. It might save you a lot of headaches.


You can follow me on my blog @ www.thurai.net/blog or @andythurai to find out more.

Friday, June 27, 2014

MassTLC’s The Value of Things

By: Allison Ryder of Continuum

What can we make of the Internet of Things? I recently attended Mass TLC’s The Value of Things conference, a gathering of software developers, middleware providers, professors, data scientists, and software platform vendors, to educate myself on how startups and enterprise organizations are creating more sophisticated systems to capture data, making sense of what they gather, and identifying the human impact of these technological advancements.

We’ve really been thinking about connecting objects to the Internet since 1999, as a way to learn more about the world around us. A highlight of the day for many was the afternoon keynote from MIT Professor Sanjay Sarma, founder of the school’s Auto-ID center. Sarma spoke in detail about RFID tags and sensors, which could be placed in cars, under carpets, and–more recently–in retail stores to share information about clothing.

Sensors were a key topic, with the central question being, how do we capture data? Another focus was the acknowledgement that data needs to be turned into information, in order to make it meaningful to all parties involved.

One way to target the capture and to analyze the data is to create solutions that hyper-specialize in narrow verticals. Take, for example, panelist Leo Koenig of Woo Sports, a Boston-area startup that places sensors on sports equipment to measure performance. Not only is it key that Koenig is creating meaning for his customers by delivering proof that they are improving at their sport, but he also argues that mounting his device directly on a piece of equipment— such as a surfboard, skateboard, golf club, etc.—will ensure a more accurate reading of factors, such as height and speed.

Other speakers cited smart farming as a use case for IoT, where sensors measure crop and water needs. Also mentioned were patient monitoring systems for in-home, end of life care. The monitors signal in professional caregivers, but only when needed. Healthcare in general was identified as an industry ripe for smart uses of data.

While security was a hot topic, privacy was not. Implicit in the conversations, though, was that much of this data collection is passive; car insurance companies will track mileage and speed as a measure for coverage thresholds and costs, or sensors in a conference room carpet will register if they detect moisture, alerting a janitor to clean the space. What’s active is the translation of data into actionable information, and thereby value. Speaker Poul Peterson of bigml asserts that making sense of big data still requires human logic, and that makes predictive analytics hard. We’ve made strides in the collection of data, but segmenting, analyzing, and taking action remain challenging.

…..

To continue reading the full article on Continuum’s website by click here


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Value of the Internet of Things


On June 18, a crowd gathered at Bentley University for MassTLC’s first Internet of Things Conference, “The Value of Things.” The day-long event featured many examples and ideas around the Internet of Things (IoT), a summary of some of which follows:

Jim Grubb, VP of Emerging Technologies at Cisco Systems opened with his keynote, built around Cisco’s idea of the Internet of Everything. Grubb pointed out that we are now at a similar point to where we were in 1993, staring down the barrel of a new, market-changing technology called the World Wide Web. From computers to phones to tablets and other devices, we are now just beginning to check off the other 99% of objects – shoes, engines, streetlamps, waste barrels – that are, little by little, being connected to the Internet, increasing 12 billion connected objects today to an estimated 50 billion in 2020.  The potential market opportunity? $19 trillion by 2022 (via http://internetofeverything.cisco.com/explore/full#/country/usa).


Grubb also stressed that the data companies glean from the IoT means a competitive advantage, as predicting consumer behavior and finding new efficiencies means untold revenue and cost savings opportunities. His final admonition? “Do it soon.” If companies wait to long to embrace IoT, it is an opportunity cost for them. He left the stage with an example of a model ”smart city:” Barcelona.

Click to view presentation

Mary Beth Hall, Director of Connected Solution at Verizon, provided a number of use case examples of IoT within the connected world such as: security, transportation, energy, retail, and m-health, and the connected city.

Click to view presentation

Later, a panel moderated by Woody Benson of Prism VentureWorks talked about the “Value” derived from IoT. Michael Campbell of MachineShop stressed that we need standards in order to simplify the ability to build on these new platforms.  Leo Koenig of Woo Sports spoke about the need to layer automated services on top of data collection to derive meaningful actions: for commerce, or even in the case of extreme sports, the ability to compile competitive data for athletes. The panel was rounded out by Brian Elolampi at MC10 talking about how they have spent a great deal of time honing in on the best technology and how they have chosen to target and succeed in niche markets and then to expand out.

The second keynote came from Sanjay Sarma, Director of Digital Learning at MIT and founder of the university’s Auto-ID Center. Aside from realting the story of how “Internet of Things” was coined by the Auto-ID Center’s Kevin Ashton, Sarma wondered aloud about the aptness of the term. He spoke of IoT really being about “cloud things.” In a proper hub-and-spoke model, he continued, things talk not to each other in a distributed manner, but to a central server (or series of them) – in the cloud.  One thing holding back IoT in these early times, said Sarma, is that lack of a dominant architecture, that IoT is too distributed as it exists now.

Next, Chad Jones of Xively and Christopher Rezendes of INEX advisors discussed what has worked when engaging business prospects in discussions of IoT. The main thread of the conversation was that discussing the technology itself only gets you so far, while placing the benefits of IoT in a business context – and discussing specific ROI over softer terms like “business transformation” – is more effective in convincing business leaders. Another concept that came up was the idea that “Big data ain’t a big deal yet,” while there is lots of “little data” in IoT that contains the real value (Woody Benson had said something similar in the earlier panel on Value).

In the panel “Analyzing Data to Get Actionable Intelligence,” moderated by Wikibon’s Jeff Kelly, the panelists got down to what to do with all the data that will be collected in the IoT.  Poul Peterson of BigML pointed out that IoT is providing more helpful data, data that can overcome the errors that occur from relying on intuition alone. As his example, Peterson said that intuition tells us that more people would buy sunglasses in Los Angeles than Seattle because it’s a sunny area; however, data tells us that more pairs are sold in Seattle, because people wear them less in that rainy city and lose – and replace – them more often. The panel also explored privacy and security implications; Nicholas Arcolano of Runkeeper described the need for a process to strip user-identifiable information so that hackers cannot “reverse engineer” to usurp privacy. Javed Jahangir of Oracle spoke specifically of the medical industry, where Internet-connected objects need to rigorously adhere to compliance regulations before being put into use.

Click to view presentation

Another lively panel explored the role of software in the Internet of Things. AS moderator Jeff Kaplan of THINKstrategies put it, “We wouldn’t be talking about any of this stuff if it weren’t for software.” The panelists then gave several examples of how the IoT can save through creating efficiencies and cost reduction. Bill Zujewski, of Axeda Corporation spoke of applications that can monitor after-hours industrial dishwashers so that staffing time can be reduced to emergencies only. Colleen Smith of Progress Software described how sensors can not only prevent waste management vendors from letting dumpsters overflow, but can know when dumpsters are full enough for a nearby truck to empty on its route, rather than coming back later. One point of difference with earlier panelists was stated by John Canosa of ThingWorx; he talked about the advantages of  the distributed nature of connected things, in apparent conflict with Sanjay Sarma’s “hub and spoke” statement. 

Click to view presentation

Finally, the event concluded with notes on security and privacy. Michael Curry of IBM laid out two laws relating to “Cybergeddon:” the first is that everything connected to the Internet can be hacked; the second, that everything will be connected to the Internet. Rather than preach gloom-and-doom, Curry relayed his six tips for security in the age of IoT:

   1.  Design for zero trust- assume you will get breached, and test;
   2.  Focus on detection and isolation;
   3.  Control the edges - don’t assume a firewall will solve your problems, but still protect that layer;
   4.  Know your data - selectively apply policy based on the type of data and its associated risk;
   5.  Encrypt end-to-end; and
   6.  Strip out personally identifying info and design for opt-in

Click to view presentation

Andy Thurai referred to IoT data security as a “disaster waiting to happen” and warned of coming cyber-terrorist attacks, both to disrupt the economy and to cause chaos. However, he, too, was confident of a solution; he left the attendees with an admonition on IoT security, twisting an old phrase made famous by Ronald Reagan: “Don’t trust but verify.”

Click to view presentation


Thank you to our Platinum Sponsors: Cisco, Oracle, PTC, and Progress Software.





Monday, June 16, 2014

Cloud Infrastructure Pricing Webinar – June 4, 2014

Regardless of your definition, public or private, cloud has moved into the mainstream. The MassTLC Cloud Infrastructure Pricing Webinar reinforced this reality as results from the Cloud Infrastructure Pricing Survey were shared and analyzed by speakers Jim Cuff, Vice President of Technical Operations at Constant Contact and Mark Dudman, Senior Vice President of Product Development at NaviNet.

Conducted by the MassTLC Cloud Cluster in late 2013, the Cloud Infrastructure Pricing Survey garnered more than 100 responses, ranging from start-ups to long-established companies, and yielded new insights into cloud pricing amongst respondents. Jim and Mark led listeners through key findings in the Cloud Infrastructure Pricing survey:
  • 55% of respondents are live with at least one cloud project, with 87% of those using public cloud.
  • As a factor when choosing Cloud services, COST ranked at the top of the list, beating out flexibility, uptime, service, security, other, Opex/Capex and Open source.
  • Cost is also the reason most companies switch to a different provider.
  • The public cloud market is becoming more competitively priced, with key players such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon implementing significant price cuts. Additionally, new services are being added, so while offerings are becoming competitively price-wise, there is also pressure for them to remain innovative.
  • The speakers discussed that while the low upfront cost and lower risk many incentivize many to start on a cloud with a big provider, in the long run, as you scale, you are in the opex/high MRC zone. However, cost optimization within a cloud provider is often a viable alternative to switching providers in many cases.
  • Even with competitive pricing, Mark noted that many companies experience a bit of a shock when they receive their first bill, but with diligent effort, companies can see cost savings. Jim compared cloud services to turning off the lights when leaving a room – if companies manage their environment by turning off services when they are not needed, that can yield cost savings.
  • Vendor consolidation is beginning to occur more rapidly to support growth, with 26% having switched cloud providers. While Amazon remains at the top of the market and has done a phenomenal job at true elasticity and consistently using innovation to solve consumers’ problems, Mark noted that it’s expected Amazon is likely to lose some market share in the coming year, and that significant shifts in cost are expected as the market continues to evolve.
  • Positively, 85% of respondents plan to increase their cloud expenditures over the next year, a finding which compares with national trends and expectations.

For the complete findings, please see the MassTLC Cloud Cluster Survey presentation.

If you are a MassTLC members who would like to access the recording of the Cloud Infrastructure Pricing webinar, please contact Margot Rodger.

We thank speakers Jim Cuff of Constant Contact and Mark Dudman of NaviNet for their participation in this webinar, as well as the MassTLC Cloud Cluster Sponsors:  Internap, Digital Realty and Logi Analytics. As always, we appreciate your continued support.

Please continue to check out the Cloud Cluster main page for ongoing updates and information.