Editor’s note: Launched in 2009, Glassbeam’s core vision was to help companies manufacturing high-tech devices or “things” in the Internet of Things make sense of the machine data coming out of the devices/things. Its patent-pending SCALAR technology with its underpinning Semiotic Parsing Language (SPL) provides analytics capabilities that would otherwise take years for a product manufacturer to duplicate. We recently caught up with Puneet Pandit, Glassbeam’s founder and CEO, for this interview on trends his company is seeing in the Internet of Things space.
Currently there is no standardization and not much security in the IoT, although companies are developing some solutions. Do you think that the IoT solutions over the next year or two will improve a lot in their ability to keep data confidential and private?
Puneet Pandit: Both standardization and security are imperative. These trends will be demanded by businesses and end users. Definitely in the next one or two years there will be a lot more security features and solutions.
In our sector we have definitely seen more caution in the last three to six months from some of our large global customers. They ask us questions about where we host their data and about how prevalent security practices are across Europe and Asia.
Our answer is that we rely on the best-of-breed data centers as our partners as opposed to trying to build a highly secure data solution in house. We host our platform on AWS, which has worldwide data centers and security best practices and back-up and archival services. And I’m sure Amazon is thinking really hard about how to circumvent security issues so they won’t lose business from their customers.
At Glassbeam we also sanitize or protect the data by not sharing it and provide a high-visibility 24×7 SLA for businesses so they can rely on this. I think use cases will grow vertical by vertical.
What about standardization efforts? What are you observing in this aspect of the Internet of Things?
Puneet Pandit: The wave of connectivity across different things in the IoT will force some industries to start collaborating with each other on standardization of certain formats or standardization on how to parse data. Some standardization must start happening to enable cross-industry cooperation because of a global interconnected economy.
Who will drive the standardization?
Puneet Pandit: Mostly these things happen from consortiums that include top players. For instance, IoT players like IBM, Microsoft, SAP and EMC could join hands and build a consortium and say “We believe in this vision for the next five to 10 years; so in the interest of our end users, let’s define the standards on how different things will talk to each other.”
My background is in the storage industry, and I saw the same kind of thing happen there in standardization. For example, data centers had heterogeneous storage from multiple vendors (EMC, Hitachi, IBM) and had different kinds of servers and switching infrastructure. The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) built the storage protocol and standards that allowed different vendors’ storage systems to talk through the common fabric (such as with Brocade as a storage switch). When SNIA came into being, competing companies sat on the same forum and defined the standards on how things would interoperate with each other. That’s how things progressed.
I think the same thing will happen to the IoT; big players will have to start collaborating on establishing some standards for the overall industry.
When Glassbeam talks with prospective customers now, what are their main pain points regarding IoT data?
Puneet Pandit: Customers that contact us proactively or that we reach out to typically are qualified on several things. (1) They have the data on connected devices or things that send data back to them. (2) They have been doing something with their data as a home-grown project for months or even two or more years and are not happy with the outcome. So they realize that they need to engage a company whose core competency is to help them analyze the machine data from their connected devices or things. (3) They are aware of a few use cases, one or two, that they can hang their hat on and start working in that direction.
What was unsatisfactory with the outcomes that some companies achieved over the past two years?
Puneet Pandit: A number of things. One reason they stumble or are unhappy with their internal projects is that it’s not their core competency to build their analytics platform and set of applications around their data. Granted, the reason they started their journey is it’s about their data, their use cases and their formats. And they have smart engineers and support people that think they can build a solution in house by building some custom processors, putting that into some kind of MySQL database and putting some reporting in.
But they miss the big picture. They start with a very tactical way of looking at this problem and don’t take a step back and think of this as a business application on machine data to be used by multiple stakeholders in the company or their partners or customers in their ecosystem. Plus data formats change rapidly.
The other key thing that happens is that the people that end up doing these in-house development projects are not part of the core strategy of those companies. Because they are not part of the core strategy of building things for the market, they don’t have the budget and priority from management. So it becomes a very frustrating exercise for many of these people, and it becomes a failed project at some point in time. Then someone at the top says, “We’re spending $2-$3 million on this data analytics solution. Are we getting the value out of this?”
They compare their situation to our ability to provide 10 times the functionality at less than half the cost and in one-fourth of the time it takes to get their solution up and running.
In your observance of the market, do most businesses currently understand what they should look for in a solution for their IoT data?
Puneet Pandit: I think it varies from vertical to vertical. Manufacturing is the most predominant in terms of understanding the value of end-to-end or Internet of Things connectivity because they have been doing that for the last five to 10 years — but in a tactical and siloed way.
In contrast, GE is an example of what’s happening now. Over the last few years they have started connecting their industrial devices into a single unified platform to make sense out of the data. That wave is going to keep happening. Manufacturing is definitely a predominant vertical where there is a lot of awareness of how to mine IoT data.
Some of the laggard industries are kind of waking up now. Financial institutions have a lot of data on credit scores that is increasingly getting automated to tactical solutions. Connecting all that data into a more cohesive, bigger picture will happen in the next few years.
What is Glassbeam’s value proposition? How does your company help customers?
Puneet Pandit: Glassbeam is not a Big Data platform for analyzing data. We’re an application software company. Our differentiation is the applications on top of our platform, which we sell to the head of support or head of engineering or head of sales and marketing. We help our customers make more money by launching new value-add services using machine data analytics for their end customers.
In what ways do you think the Internet of Things vendor landscape will change over the next couple of years?
Puneet Pandit: In the IoT there will be tremendous activity over the next five years in platforms, applications and analytics. People, investors especially, are increasingly looking to bet money on new areas. Big Data was the big focus area over the last two or three years. The IoT is another big area that people are starting to focus on.
There will be tremendous startup activity and a lot of M&As. All the big companies like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft are increasingly looking to acquire innovative ideas that they can put on their sales and marketing engines and take to 100 times growth in one to three years.
Will global, multinational companies lead the way in how the IoT evolves, or will it be industries that lead the way? What will be the driver for how it evolves?
Puneet Pandit: I think some industries will absolutely lead the way in showcasing the ROI or value propositions of the Internet of Things. But it’s still a new area and kind of a big buzzword right now. Soon some industry will come out and show how the IoT enables businesses.
And certain big companies have been talking about the IoT evolving, but describing it in different ways. IBM has been calling it the Smarter Planet for five to seven years. GE now calls it the Industrial Internet. Cisco calls it the Internet of Everything. These giants are putting huge investments in the IoT with their partners, customers and employees. And they will lead the way; there’s no question about it.
Glassbeam is engaged with some of the big IoT players as our customers; they are, in their own belief, some of the pioneers of the Internet of Things. We are working on some cutting-edge solutions with these companies, and it’s really exciting.
Puneet Pandit is founder and CEO of Glassbeam. Puneet has served as chief executive officer of Glassbeam since its inception in 2009. Glassbeam was incubated inside Orchesys, a professional services firm focused on enterprise storage. Prior to founding Orchesys, Puneet was a senior director at Network Appliance, a strategic advisor at Ernst & Young and a management consultant at Tata Unisys.
Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor of SandHill.com.