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A New Starship Enterprise: Building Federated Networks for Distributed IoT and IIoT Solutions

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The "Starship Enterprise" is the nickname of fictional spacecraft, some of which were the main craft and setting for various television series and films in the Star Trek science fiction mega franchise. The most notable were Captain James T. Kirk's USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) from the original 1960s television series, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard's USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The United Federation of Planets (UFP) is the interstellar government that sent Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the crew of the Starship Enterprise on its mission of peaceful exploration. Introduced in the television show Star Trek (1966–1969), the survival, success, and growth of the Federation and its principles of freedom are central themes across all the shows and movies, and while viewers are never given specifics on this new galactical government, many episodes refer to the rules and laws that the Federation imposes on the characters and their adventures.

Can the concept of federation of networks enable enterprises to “go where no man has gone before?”

In the world of connectivity and global networking, the concept of federating networks is emerging as both an opportunity for entrepreneurial exploration, and a potential threat to legacy “telecom” providers who are fighting to maintain their “walled gardens” even as new models like WhatsApp in the world of human communications, and Twilio in enterprise communications, have exploded in growth given the creativity and cost savings combinations.

According to VMWare, a federated network “is a network model in which a number of separate networks or locations share resources (such as network services and gateways) via a central management framework that enforces consistent configuration and policies. Management, control, and data planes are distributed over multiple networks or locations and managed as a single entity.”

Network federation takes interconnection and interworking to a new level, one that could not be achieved without the introduction of software defined networking (SDN) and programmable networking which provides for limitless innovation, as abstracted from traditional networking physical layers.

VMWare also says, “the terms federated network and distributed network have some overlap and are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a key difference between them. A distributed network is simply any network that encompasses multiple geographical locations, whereas a federated network is one that allows multiple networks (which may be geographically distributed) to work together by employing technologies such as network federation. A true federated network uses a central management framework to enforce consistent policies and create a uniform environment so that the member networks can share services.”

As IoT and Industrial IoT solutions become more sophisticated and are adopted across many different geographies – and as 5G continues to roll out in more and more communities – the benefits of creating private networks (often called P-LTE & P5G) which connect sensor-based systems in many ways is a very attractive option compared to the traditional way of working. IoT solution providers and their enterprise customers no longer must worry about setting up relationships with multiple service providers which is complex and expensive and can easily bundle wireless connectivity into their architectures as easily as they can spin up virtual machines.

JpU, a start-up based in Israel, implementing solutions in the US and other geographic markets, is rapidly building their footprint, and offering to make it IT centric, much easier via APis, Miltary grade secure and less expensive to provision, monitor, manage, maintain, and scale communications services which until now have been largely abstracted from networking.

We caught up with Roy Timor-Rousso, Chief Revenue Officer at JpU, an enterprise 4G/5G solution SaaS provider. Based in TLV, the company is working via channel partners globally, while focusing primarily on the US market. Timor-Rousso is no stranger to federated networking as he has built and sold several businesses which applied the concept to “human communications” including serving as the CEO of fring, a competitor to WhatsApp which was acquired by a multi-billion company based on the SaaS innovations that came out of fring’s labs.

He is now in the world of IoT/IIoT and applying similar principles.

“We’re in a world of multi-cloud, which is already being federated to deliver a unified, interoperable combination of cloud resources, and it only makes sense to orchestrate networking in a similar fashion,” Timor-Rousso said. “Look at the success of blending private and public clouds, including multiple clouds, pulling them into a unified environment which allows computing to operate consistently. As more and more compute moves to the edge, the complexity will become impossible to manage given the explosion of devices and applications that are driving value, but also creating operational and security risk without a practical framework. Federated wireless networking solves this problem, making the provisioning and building of 4G/5G networks easier to do, while making network operations and management more unified for the enterprise or their managed service and managed security providers.”

JpU is actively building federated networks for certain Industry X , Commercial Budlings and other vertical sectors in the US, including the energy industry. “There is tremendous upside in instrumenting the energy grid,” Timor-Rousso explained, “but also tremendous risk, both economic and operational given the surge of cyber attacks and threat of more attacks on critical infrastructure. Consider how big energy grids are, how many locations the equipment sits in, the number of sensors and gateways associated with monitoring and managing based on data generated by those sensors and consolidated by those gateways. Having a single connectivity provider who offers secure transmission as a service – opex rather than capex – is compelling compared to complex legacy approaches. With a common SIM card, for example, every location can be connected and managed with a single view, and every endpoint equipped for Over-the-Air updates and more.”

The concept of federation does not stop at a single enterprise deployment, Timor-Rousso said. “All enterprises are connected through our JpU hyper core into a federated network, which supports ecosystems in completely new and powerful ways. For ‘mobile’ IoT, every enterprise device and every enterprise asset on the move can roam via any other network while being managed and controlled, without enterprises having to contract with and deal with multiple providers.”

The JpU hyper core enables and apply business rules, and with 5G can deliver ultra-low-latency, high quality experiences, reliability and, according to Timor-Rousso, cost savings between 40 – 60% compared to old school approaches.

“Given the consolidation and unification aspects, tackling security is more straightforward; we are designing bundles into solutions which supports the ‘full stack’ security industrial solutions require in order to operate without risking intentional or unintentional attacks and failures,” Timor-Rousso said. “This is a perfect solution for the crossover of machine and human communication, as our federated solutions allows companies to manage and control employees and devices on any public or private network.”

Timor-Rousso will be sharing more about how federated networks contribute to better industrial, agricultural, energy, and other vertical IoT implementations as a speaker at The Frontier Conference. 
Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Special Correspondent

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