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Entrevista a JACQUES DURAND

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR AT FUJITSU AMERICA, INC.

IOT´s Advisory Committee Interviews Jacques Durand (Fujitsu), technical director at Fujitsu America, Inc. His main role has been working on software and middleware standards and design: eBusiness, Web Services, Cloud computing standards and IoT systems, while representing the company in technology consortia such as OASIS, DMTF, W3C, WS-I, IIC, ISO/JTC1/SC38, where he has been chairing, acting as editor on several working groups, or involved on the board.

He has a long-time involvement in testing activities, organizing and chairing conformance and interoperability test events in US, Europe and Asia. Prior to this he was director of development in a business process management (BPM) start-up for 6 years, Santa-Clara (Bay area). Prior to this he was R & D engineer at US West, a telecom company (Denver, Colorado). Initially assistant professor in computer science in France for 6 years, where he got a Ph.D. in logic programming and rule-based systems. He has more than 25 years of experience in software engineering, ranging from research software to commercial products.



Internet of Thing (IoT) has rapidly become one of the new buzzwords within the tech industry and even for the ordinary citizen and already has a variety of meanings. Putting scholar definitions aside, what is the IoT for Jacques Durand?

Jacques Durand  I will give you a user-centric definition. IoT is a value chain - for both businesses and people. The foundation of IoT is the connectivity aspect: as the name suggests, IoT starts with connecting objects from the “real world”- buildings, vehicles, products, etc. – as well as plants, animals and people, between themselves and to computers at a significantly larger scale than done in the past, thanks to maturing technologies (networking, cloud computing, pattern recognition, electronic tagging, event processing…). But that foundation is useless without the additional "intelligence" it provides to people and industries: a new level of analytics and automated decision making is now possible based on the unprecedented amount of data generated from this connectivity.  Finally, the "value" side of IoT is how businesses and people benefit from this intelligence, which falls roughly in two major categories:

(1) More efficient, insightful and productive industrial operations.

(2) Better and personalized responses to people’s needs and interests.

The above definition would only give a rosy picture of IoT if we did not also mention the challenges of gathering more data and of more reliance on automated systems: usrs will expect an IoT deployment to tell a lot more about how it ensures privacy, transparency, safety, security, reliability, resilience, than other conventional ICT systems.

 

In your opinion/knowledge, what is going to be the impact of industrial IOT in the global economy in the near future?

Jacques Durand It is actually harder to tell for the near future than for the long term... So I'll give you a more modest assessment than you might hear in the business and technology media. Because deploying IoT can be disruptive and may involve transition risks to traditional operations, there are barriers to early IoT adoption in many industry sectors. Just think of how many supply chains today are still very much managed in a paper-intensive way, certainly lagging behind what B2B technologies have made technically feasible for nearly 20 years in terms of electronic records, messaging, tracking and monitoring. Also, ICT and Operational technologies (OT) do not have quite the same culture and concerns: ICT vendors and engineers values state-of-the-art technology and automation while OT values stability, reliability, continuity, robustness of solutions regardless of how up-to-date these are. Many industries will need the time to assess how well IoT fares on these criteria before taking the risk of upgrading their operations. The near future will be a time of pilot projects and experiments.

So in the near term, the benefits may not live up to the hype.  The promises of IoT will not be “evenly distributed” for a while, over the various sectors of the economy.

In the near term we will not see many spectacular and frictionless market adoptions like the move from landline phones to cellphones then smartphones in telecommunications. But we will see some – the most “visible” to people will be in retail and commerce, as well as the car industry.

This said, wherever IoT adoption succeeds in the near future, we will see increased automation and agility of operations in manufacturing, supply chains, agriculture, healthcare, etc. The primary gains will be in productivity, agility of businesses and customization of products. On the jobs side, IoT will create jobs but let us not fool ourselves: it will also make many other jobs irrelevant because of the automation and productivity gains it allows.

On the commercial side, as it will be easier to measure the usage of a product or of a service, we will see more “pay per use” commercial models, shifting sales from product ownership to product usage. That might be the most perceptible change in everyday life for you and me in the short term.

 

Is standardization one of the big challenges ahead?

Jacques Durand Like for any emerging information technology, there are technology standards involved, even if too many of them, as the complaint goes… For IoT, we already have specific standards for (machine-to-machine) protocols,  and then there will be a lot of reuse of existing standards for networking, security, data,

etc. Given the diversity of fields of application and their requirements, IoT will be multi-standard (like today electronic eBusiness messaging is multi-standard), i.e. will need to accommodate seemingly competing standards. This will not be a problem as long as there is only a handful of such standards to compose with and translate from – as is the case today for wireless networking and data protocols for IoT: IoT gateways routinely support several of them. I do not see big challenges here in the short term. But there are two other kinds of standards that will become critical in my view.

First what we may call the “contractual” standards, which are of interest to user communities and governments. These standards will define what is a secure, safe, reliable, resilient, auditable IoT system - the kinds of qualities that can be subject to contractual agreements and regulations. Such standards focus on the "properties" of IoT systems as opposed to their technology infrastructure. Such standards will affect in depth the way IoT systems are developed, tested, categorized, certified and maintained. Definition and compliance to such standards will be one of the biggest challenges.  The Industrial Internet Consortium has given a lot of attention to the properties of IoT systems - defined as "system characteristics" - that will be the basis for such standards.

Second, what I call the “integration” standards. These are still technology standards, but higher in the IoT stack: more focused on enabling the growth, scalability and integration of IoT systems with each other, which is inevitable down the road. Such integration standards will define interfaces to typical IoT components and services, they will define common meta-data and ontologies. They will define how to enable loose integration of such systems, e.g. around asynchronous events representation and processing.

 

What are Fujitsu’s plans within the IoT industry?

Jacques Durand Building on its long experience in the M2M area, Fujitsu is acting today on its more general vision of an "hyper-connected world" and “human-centric intelligent society". (http://www.fujitsu.com/global/vision/2014/ ). We plan to become a leading IoT provider – both technologies and solutions. Fujitsu already has products over most of the IoT spectrum (sensors, devices, networks, gateways, cloud services, applications…). But Fujitsu recognizes that partnerships and an open strategy are necessary for interoperable IoT systems, which will become critical in a more mature phase of the IoT market. Hence our strong participation in IoT consortia (such as the Industrial Internet Consortium) and other open standard and open-source organizations.

Are there any success stories so far of how these new solutions might impact an industry?

Jacques Durand There are successful deployments of IoT although many may not look spectacular - yet. Several are confined to the factory floor and just helping improve operations, predict trouble, thanks to more data gathered from equipment and tools. Other deployments are quietly changing agriculture practices: Fujitsu has developed systems for intensive indoor cultures that outperform conventional growing methods by first analyzing the effects of lighting, humidity, temperature on different cultures, then generating the best conditions. Such systems for example allowed for the production of low-potassium vegetables needed by kidney patients. More generally at this time we are still in an era of pilot projects.

 

What role could and international event such as the IoT Solutions World Congress might have in an emerging field such as the Industrial Internet?

Jacques Durand Several roles. IoTSWC could become a major business networking event about IoT solutions, per industry sector but also across these. There is a need for a large-scale forum where IoT vendors and IoT users can meet - not just about commercial solutions, but also to share and establish best practices and requirements in most of the lifecycle of deploying an IoT project. That forum, in a second phase of a maturing IoT market, will foster cross-domain integrations of IoT systems - so it is important that it attracts several industry sectors. And last but not least, a forum to lay ground for the “contractual standards" above mentioned - a common agreement on what notions such as security, safety, reliability, resilience, auditability, mean for IoT deployments, how such qualities should be assessed, contracted for, audited.