NFV Strategies

CEO Chat With Barry Mainz, Wind River

Cracking IoT

SS: Cool. Let's talk about IoT. Is that a market where you can actually make money right now?

BM: Start with the IoT endpoints. I think an endpoint could be a cell tower. I think an endpoint could be a car. I think an endpoint could be a robot --

SS: Heh. Robots are cool.

BM: An industrial robot.

SS: [Disappointed] Got it.

BM: And a lot of these things, these expensive things, run our [Wind River's] software, it turns out.

And customers have been coming to us for a long time saying, "Hey, can you help us lock down this machine?" That's our pedigree for 30 years. Well, now they're coming to us saying, "Can you help us unlock it? And by the way, we've got this car, and we want to..."

SS: ...To make it available to somebody who wants to monetize it?

BM: Exactly right. They need to unlock the data from a car. So now they can update the firmware while the car is parked in the garage, over a network. Or they say "Hey, I've got an industrial manufacturing plant, and I'd like to virtualize some of the sensor data, so I can make better decisions." So they're coming to us in these vertical markets where the customers can make a lot of money.

SS: Give me some examples of the verticals. This is a question that comes up in every meeting I have with service providers: "who's making money and where?"

BM: Automotive is a big, big, big, big use case for firmware and software updates. There is a very high percentage of issues going into the dealership now -- well over 50% -- that are all software. And they can only be done today by driving into the dealership. Make an appointment, bring it in, take the PC, plug it in and update the software.

SS: I hate that, by the way.

BM: Yep, it's not a good model.

SS: But even if it works, I hate it. I like to be able to get my hands dirty and those days are gone.

BM: Those days are gone; although, you could buy a muscle car, right, you're right in the age group there.

SS: Way ahead of you. I have one of those: a '72 Chevy Malibu.

BM: Well, you get to get your hands dirty on that.

SS: Yeah, but to your point, that doesn't mean that drive-ins aren't a super-terrific way to make money for the dealerships, right?

BM: Yeah, but for an automotive manufacturer, and for the user experience, wouldn't it be great to have your car sitting there and having updates over the air -- or firmware updates over the air, adding functionality, adding additional features. So that's one use case.

SS: For performance?

BM: Performance, absolutely. Say, "Hey, for $1,000."

SS: I can get an extra 50 horsepower?

BM: Yeah.

SS: Whoa, I think you're on to something. That would actually be pretty incredible; if you go in and you bought like a high-end car, and you're driving it around, and then you want to upgrade it with another 125 horsepower, and you can just go online and have the manufacturers re-chip it remotely, and pay ten grand for that… I think there's an almost unlimited number of people who own that type of car, with that kind of money, who would pay that.

BM: Tesla is doing it now.

SS: No way.

BM: Way. You can go in and turn on upgrades.

SS: Barry, I think we finally found an IoT application that I would pay for!

BM: There you go; real value, demonstrable value. Energy is another one. GE comes to mind. We're working closely with them on sensors on jet engines. It turns out that they can collect a lot of data as they are flying… atmospheric pressure, wind speed, these kinds of things. And they can take the data from multiple jets, and use it to adjust the level of the plane to maximize fuel efficiency. And if they can improve that by one percent or even a half percent, that's a big number.

SS: Yeah, it's a huge number.

BM: Huge.

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