Embrace Networks launches platform for incorporating devices via Internet

Sunnyvale, CA—Embrace Networks Inc. introduced Nov. 7 its Device Brokerage Platform, which it reports is a software platform that incorporates devices, machines, instruments or appliances into business or operational infrastructures via the Internet.

By Control Engineering Staff November 12, 2002

Sunnyvale, CA— Embrace Networks Inc. and provides ongoing operation, management and interaction with large populations of dispersed devices.

So far, efforts to connect devices to the Internet to serve as portals into business applications and/or provide remote provisioning, monitoring, updating, and management of devices have focused on connectivity. Embrace states that few projects have focused on reducing the complexity of integrating devices into applications, and how to remotely, securely manage shifting populations of devices. Maria Martinez, Embrace’s president and ceo, says these are profound programming tasks, and a virtual black hole for critical enterprise software development resources. ‘Forrester Research has predicted that Internet will be extended to over 14 billion devices by the end of this decade, outnumbering computers and network appliances 25-to-1,’ says Ms. Martinez. ‘Imagine the complexity and chaos.’

Embrace conceived of its Device Brokerage Platform as a broad-based, lasting solution to eliminate much of this complexity. The platform provides a means to integrate devices into representative applications, and to generate a complete management infrastructure for them, typically in less than 30 days.

Device Brokerage Platform is targeted at OEMs seeking to provide Internet-based management solutions for their products and at system integrators that are either incorporating remote devices into business applications or implementing a complete management solution for large groups of devices. Embrace reports that one of these OEMs is Sagem Morpho (Tacoma, WA), a manufacturer of biometric access solutions. Sagem Morpho’s devices can determine premise access based on fingerprint scans, while its biometric terminals can locally store a database of several thousand fingerprints and provide on-site ‘enrollment,’ which are processes that must be supported by a sophisticated central management application.

‘We found the Device Brokerage Platform ideal for quickly enhancing the functionality of our Terminal Management System, as well as providing the necessary architecture for further system-wide enhancements, such as backend integration options,’ says Jean-Marc Suchier, Sagem Morpho’s president and ceo. ‘Particularly impressive was that we were able to be fully operational on the Embrace platform in under a month, with no change to our device communications protocol.’

Brokerage infrastructure
To resolve complexity issues caused by a device-centric Internet, Embrace has introduced a new ‘brokerage layer’ of network infrastructure. This brokerage layer is populated with distributed software services, called ‘brokers,’ that provide a managed set of services for applications and devices wishing to communicate with one another.

These services include:

  • Network abstraction, in which the details of the network, such as transport method (802.11a/b, GPRS and others), locations of firewalls, etc., are transparent to devices and applications;

  • Device abstraction, where one broker can provide a common, simplified interface between any arbitrary application and dozens of different types of devices with varying capabilities and unique protocols;

  • Dynamic device administration, in which individual devices that show up on the network are recognized, authenticated, and assigned to the proper applications, as well as provisioned, maintained and monitored once authenticated; and

  • Context management, where the business rules for all interactions, as well as their current state and history, are managed for numerous devices.

In addition, Device Brokerage Platform includes Embrace’s Management Console, an out-of-the-box application that permits OEMs to immediately start integrating devices with existing tools and management applications. Management Console permits single- or multiple-point administration of devices, brokers, and applications on the Internet.

For local and wide area network communications, Embrace’s platform includes its MicroClient firmware, which is intended to be embedded in Internet-ready devices, appliances or machines to provide secure interaction between devices and the brokerage platform. This thin client features discovery and multiplexing capabilities that enable a device to identify itself to the brokerage servers, and communicate with multiple brokers at once, as well as optional AES 256-bit strong encryption and optional MD5 Authentication.

For non-Internet-enabled devices that communicate via serial, wireless or modem legacy protocols, Embrace offers its optional programmable Device Adapter, intended to seamlessly provide all of the capabilities of the MicroClient, as well as network communications. The Device Adapter enables OEMs to bridge the gap between their existing products and future, Internet-ready devices.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor