The company first launched the platform in May 2017. While the original product was based on an integration between VMware’s AirWatch mobility management software and its operations management software, vRealize Operations, “we build 2.0 brand new from the ground up,” said Mimi Spier, VP of edge and IoT at VMware.
Earlier this year at MWC in Barcelona, VMware announced a software stack for edge devices. It’s built on Pulse IoT Center and Photon OS 3.0, an open source, lightweight Linux container host. In addition to Photon, Pulse IoT Center supports any other edge software stack, and it’s also device agnostic.
“It’s based on a very flexible and open architecture, it’s fully API based, the onboarding is significantly easier, and there’s a lot of built-in functionality to organize devices in a much more logical way,” Spier said.
The 2.0 product is available as software-as-a-service (SaaS), with SaaS services hosted by VMware now and the vendor’s cloud provider partners later in the year. It includes new edge and IoT management capabilities such as minimal touch enrollment and bulk on-boarding for devices, and a single management console to provide visibility and management for millions of edge and IoT devices.
“The second biggest increase in investment was in security,” Spier said, (the first was rebuilding the platform).
This includes enabling users to register and connect devices with unique device token IDs or certificates, as well as providing over-the-air firmware and software updates. Other built-in security includes role-based user access and SaaS multi-tenancy instances with isolation. Additionally, the Pulse IoT Center agent runs with least privilege execution, and all communications and connections are secured.
“And then we added the ability to take [a device] off the network [and] the ability to quarantine or reboot the device,” Spier added.
The platform can detect anomalies by monitoring configurable device metric thresholds and initiate remediation actions with rule-based alerts and API-based integrations with third-party tools.
Friends and Competitors
VMware’s not the first company to announce an IoT and edge device management platform. Several of its competitors including Cisco — and even some of its partners like Microsoft — have their own IoT management products. VMware says its approach is different because it focuses on the entire lifecycle.
“A lot of companies when they say ‘device management,’ they just mean getting the data out of the device, putting a container on the device,” Spier said. “Microsoft, for example, they have a great IoT platform solution that collects data using IoT Edge, IoT Hub, and Azure, but their device management is specifically around managing their own container. And they say Pulse is a great solution and a great partner for the other areas of device management — the firmware updates, the system updates, the other software that’s running on the platform.”
In addition to Microsoft, Pulse IoT Center partners with companies including SAP, Dell Technologies, InfluxData, and a slew of others — from device and sensor makers, edge gateways and edge compute products, data analytics and processing, IoT platforms and system integrators/consultants.
These integrations, along with VMware’s infrastructure that stretches to the device and network edge, provides a consistent infrastructure and device management platform across IoT use cases and edge devices, Spier said. “Not just the ones customers want to use with Microsoft of SAP, but even the ones that are just a security camera or an HVAC system. We provide a consistent management platform across all IoT and edge devices.”