MathWorks Jim Tung on industrial IoT, cloud security and open source

Jim Tung, MathWorks Fellow

Massachusetts-headquartered MathWorks a global powerhouse that has been lighting the academic sphere with MATLAB since 70s and now Simulink has become an integral part of research and development. The tools are used across sectors, majorly in automotive, aerospace, industrial automation, semi-conductor, communication, electronics and financial services.  From NASA to industrial automation and medical device industry, Matlab and Simulink, proprietary commercial products are used for modeling and simulation, thereby enabling the design and development of products across the sectors.

Kishore Rao, Managing Director of MathWorks India

IoTIndiaMag caught up with Jim Tung, MathWorks Fellow and Kishore Rao, Managing Director of MathWorks India at the recently concluded MATLAB Expo and gleaned these key takeaways. Rao, who has been spearheading the India operations since 2008 and has a staff of 220, headquartered in Bangalore said the Indian office’s main goal was to “drive local engagement with our customers here and help them adopt solutions across industry”.

“India is a true representation of how the market is worldwide. You got automotive, aerospace, healthcare, industrial equipment, financial. We have 220 people in India at this stage, and the primary focus is India business, but we also have a growing team of development and they are aligned to our worldwide development organisation,” said Rao, adding that 85% of business is in commercial automotive, aerospace being the two biggest verticals in India and worldwide. In fact, MATLAB found good use in financial area with central banks using the tools for econometric modeling and risk management. From ICICI bank, Deutshce Bank to JP Morgan and even the stock broking communities use the tools for portfolio management. The rest 15% of business is driven by the academia.

Now in its 8th edition, the MATLAB expo saw 800 delegates attending the event, billed as a great forum for engineers to learn about MATLAB and Simulink applications in real-world settings.  “Engineers today have multiple challenges, they are grappling with day-to-day issues and at the same time they sneed to keep pace with new technologies. The expo provides content across the globe, from IoT, radar, wireless to autonomous system, we cater to a diverse industry set”.

Key takeaways from Tung and Rao on industrial IoT adoption, cloud security, and whether Python is a threat to MATLAB

Making sense of Industrial IoT: Tung tackled the buzz around industrial IoT, and key market players such as GE Digital, Siemens, Bosch among others that have built platforms to derive meaningful, actionable insights from big data from machines. When quizzed about market share of Indian companies in industrial IoT, Tung said, “Many Indian companies are stakeholders in industrial IoT landscape but it is too early to think about the market share because people are still finding the applications for industrial IoT. They know how to connect machines to machines, but they don’t know how to use the big data that comes from it to make smart decisions.”

Where does Predix, GE Digital’s highly publicized platform, pegged as the operating system for the Industrial Internet fit in?  “Predix is still a work in progress and the idea of Predix being the operating system/platform for industrial automation is great. But if you think about the showcase examples that are described in Predix, they are typically GE business units, and in many cases the heavy use in GE business,” Tung explained.

Is there a lack of inter-operability and standardization in industrial IoT ecosystem? Tung reveal the issue with industrial IOT is of non-ownership. The missing piece is taking the data from the machines and basing business decisions on it. “GE Digital, Siemens want to control the chessboard, each one of them. Now, if organizations create data and aggregate data into Predix are there any standard ways of bringing this stuff together and letting it share,” he added.

What would a standard technology in Industrial IoT look like? Look underneath Predix or any other platform and they are built on standard stacks. The stack has to be well-designed and it has to use technologies JSON, REST APIs, container technologies and it has to add value. Since the customers for industrial IoT are all over the map, in order to be successful it has to be easy to expand, easier to use and easier to integrate with legacy systems.

“People like GE Digital and everybody else is saying we can build this infrastructure, but how do we add value. It has to be assembled in the right way, because you want it to be used by people who are not software developers, it has to be used by people who work in factory, consumer, retail and so on. You add value by letting people on the business side make decisions based on the information or letting some autonomous system make better decisions. That’s where the challenge comes in,” Tung shared.

Cybersecurity in cloud: Tung revealed during his talks with customers, especially in the aerospace and automotive customers, who thought that they were the best in protecting security/data in cloud realized that the architecture changes so much that it is better to give to professionals who care about it all time.

“You see more people using the cloud infrastructure from AWS, or someone else, then they have a private cloud within their infrastructure,” remarked Tung. Another key feature of cybersecurity in cloud was checking code. “Make sure you are not writing code that can create vulnerabilities. For us, cybersecurity is a big target we provide Code analysis tools and verification tools. “

Is Python eating into MATLAB dominance: Python is a language that is really for computer science and is attempting to turn for more application areas. “It does somethings really well, so it is something we are aware of and engage with as it is a good challenge for us, because we need to make sure we are on top of our game. So, for example rapid iteration and development and innovation that’s what we do.”

But copying functionality is a strict no? “We don’t copy functionality. Instead we, look at the root cause, understand what does the user want to be able to do and how can we design it so it is easy to integrate in the process. We pride ourselves on design, and implementation of quality of tools. For all these tools, design is top of it, the other feature is the stuff has to be very well tested and the documentation is very strong,” Tung added. The value of Matlab and Simulink together provides the entire capabilities, from design to implementation and helps in doing all the validation.

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Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia

Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.