Smartfrog Re-launched

Patrick Goldsack on why Configured Things is taking a fresh look at the SmartFrog Opensource Project

The much loved Smartfrog project is still resident on SourceForge. We are in the process of moving the ancillary content (videos, introductory material, etc.) to a new server and in the mean time, we apologize for its current non-availability. We will try to restore it as soon as we possibly can.

We are in the process of redesigning SmartFrog itself to bring it up to date with the technologies that are now in current use and to make it suited to being the core modeling and configuration framework for Configuration Things.

The areas that are under change are:

  • A new more powerful configuration description language, taking all the good parts of the SmartFrog notation and making them even more expressive and powerful.
  • A new lighter-weight component model better suited to run on small light-weight devices common in the Internet-of-Things.
  • A security model that better suits the federated nature of the problem space that Configured Things is tackling.
  • A way of supporting very rapid and possibly conflicting changes to configurations, coming from the set of federated instances, with appropriate roll-back and failure recovery.

The intent is that this new version of SmartFrog (known as colloquially as SF2) will be released as open source with a permissive license that will encourage wide adoption and the creation of a user ecosystem.

The Importance of Federation for Digital Transformation

Patrick Goldsack discusses why Configured Things are so focused on helping organisations work together

Federation is the need to work across administrative boundaries within an overall framework. This work may involve control of the devices, including configuration and management, as well as access to data and information.In most large-scale deployments of things, even within a single enterprise, there will be aspects which involve federation. For example, control of network devices may be under the control of a different organization than that for building management, and although there may be times to link their management, they also need to operate in isolation and have independent failure modes.

In smart cities or event management, federation is inherent in the construction of a solution. System belong to vastly different organizations that need to collaborate – for example transport agencies, emergency services, local business and individual citizens. Each will have data that others may need to access, but with strict controls depending on the accessing organization. Limited control of the systems might be ceded to another organization, perhaps for a fixed period during an emergency situation.

These complex relationships make federation a complex issue and without the required underlying capabilities being included within the underlying platform it becomes an almost impossible task. Its importance ensures that federation is at the core of the conception of Configured Things.

Social Tax? – dealing with the impact of IoT/Smart Cities/Automation

Nick Randall discusses the social implications of the next industrial revolution

I’ve been discussing the potential social impacts of what we are generally about with various thought leaders this week. As technologists we are busy realising the ‘dream’ with a weather eye very much focused on doing generally cool things that will make peoples lives easier and better. Most of the discussion is about a positive social revolution.
Obviously we in our industry are aware that there is a potential downside to the upcoming revolution; whole areas of employment are under threat – from Big Data taking out layers of professions like legal, banking staff, estate agents etc. as well as the almost traditional erosion of manufacturing jobs with the progression of automation. To the latter category – just think what driver less vehicles might do.

Industrial relations are going to need to be handled by all parties much more effectively than the recent rail strikes in Southern England – as an example.
In our own industry – our innovations will lead to layers of technical staff being taken out of organisations. Turkeys voting for Christmas?
Do we think our political, corporate and industrial leaders are ready for this? Can they effectively manage this social revolution? Probably not. <gulp>
The proposed answer for this is touted by our industry peers as education and retraining. Well – I don’t see much group think from our political,corporate and labour force leaders on this so where is the strategic vision and leadership going to come from?
Perhaps we need a concept of social tax akin to the model we have adopted re carbon emissions and carbon tax? At least with “carbon tax” we have a framework to discuss the issue i.e. global warming.
Lets get a discussion started – but first lets invent and agree a framework for this discussion.