Cairn Oil & Gas is a major oil and gas exploration and production company in India. It currently contributes 25% to India’s domestic crude production (about 28.4 MMT) and is aiming to account for 50% of the total output. The company plans to spend ₹3,16,09 crores (₹31.6 billion) over the next three years to boost its production.

The oil and gas industry currently confronts three major challenges: huge price fluctuation with volatile commodity prices, capital-intensive processes and long lead times, and managing production decline.

Sandeep Gupta, chief digital and information officer at Cairn Oil & Gas, is using state-of-the-art technologies to overcome these challenges and achieve business goals. “We have adopted a value-focused approach to deploying technological solutions. We partner with multiple OEMs and service integrators to deploy highly scalable projects across the value chain,” he says.

Reducing operational costs with drones, AI, and edge computing

Sandeep Gupta, chief digital and information officer, Cairn Oil & Gas


The oil and gas industry is facing huge price fluctuation due to volatile commodity prices and geopolitical conditions. In such a scenario, it becomes crucial for the business to manage costs.

Sustained oil production depends on uninterrupted power supply. However, managing transmission lines is a high-cost, resource-intensive task. For Cairn, it meant managing 250km of power lines spread across 3,111 square kilometers. They supply power to the company’s Mangala, Bhagyam, and Aishwarya oil fields and its Rageshwari gas fields in Rajasthan.

To reduce operational costs, the company decided to use drones. The images captured by the drones are run through an AI image-recognition system. The system analyses potential damage to power lines, predicts possible failure points, and suggests preventive measures, thereby driving data-driven decision-making instead of operator-based judgment.

“Algorithms such as convolutional neural networks were trained on images captured when the overhead powerlines are running in their ideal condition. The algorithm then compares the subsequent images that are taken at an interval of six months when any anomalies are captured. An observation is then put into portal for the maintenance team to take corrective and preventive action,” says Gupta.

This is a service-based contract between Cairn and the maintenance provider where the monitoring is carried out on biannual basis for 220kV power lines and annually for 500kV power lines.

“Since the implementation of drone-based inspection, the mean time between failure has increased from 92 to 182 days. This has reduced oil loss to 2,277 barrels per year, leading to cost savings worth approximately ₹12 crores [₹120 million]. As it enables employees to carry out maintenance activities in an effective manner, a small team can work more efficiently, and the manpower required reduces,” Gupta says.

The remote location of operations coupled with a massive volume of data (Cairn generates about 300GB data per day) that is generated make the oil and gas industry ideal for the use of edge-based devices for computing.

With smart edge devices, critical parameters are stored and processed at remote locations. The devices are installed in the field which send data via MQTT protocol where cellular network connectivity is available. They store data up to 250GB on the Microsoft Azure cloud and perform analytics using machine-learning algorithms, as well as provide intelligent alarms.

Without these devices, the data generated would be transported to faraway data centres, clogging the network bandwidth. “Edge computing helps reduce our IT infrastructure cost as lower bandwidth is sufficient to handle the large volume of data. These devices deployed are tracking critical operational parameters such as pressure, temperature, emissions, and flow rate. The opportunity cost of not having edge computing would result in requiring a higher bandwidth of network, which would amount to around 2X of the current network cost,” says Gupta. “This also has an implication on the health and safety risk of our personnel and equipment.”

Reducing lead times through a cloud-first strategy

The oil exploration process has a lead time of around three to five years and requires huge capital commitment. Out of these three to five years, a significant amount of time is taken up by petrotechnical experts (geologists, geophysicists, petroleum engineers, and reservoir engineers) in simulating models that require massive computational power.

Petrotechnical workflow entails evaluation of subsurface reservoir characteristics to identify the location for drilling the wells. These workflows are carried out by petrotechnical experts via multiple suites of software applications that can help identify the location and trajectory of wells to be drilled.

“Capital allocation and planning for future exploration has become riskier due to long lead times. To achieve our goals, increasing computing capabilities are essential. For this, we have adopted and executed a cloud-first strategy,” says Gupta. Thus, Cairn has completely migrated the workloads for petrotechnical workflows to the cloud. “This migration has removed the constraints of on-premises computational capabilities. As a result, there is almost 30% reduction in time to first oil,” he says.

Managing decline in production through predictive analytics

Cairn has considerable volume, variety, and velocity of data coming from different sources across production, exploration, and administration. “Using this data, we have deployed multiple large-scale projects, including predictive analytics, model predictive control, and reservoir management, which have been scaled across multiple sites,” says Gupta. Model predictive control (MPC) is a technology where the equipment is monitored for various operating parameters and is then operated in a particular range to get maximum efficiency, while maintaining the constraints in the system.

At the heart of this lies Disha, a business intelligence initiative that uses dashboards driving critical actionable insights. “The philosophy for developing Disha was to make the right data available to the right people at the right time. We wanted to remove file-based data sharing and reporting as significant time goes in creating these reports. We connected data from various sources such as SAP HANA, Historian, Microsoft SharePoint, Petrel, LIMS, and Microsoft Azure cloud onto a single Microsoft PowerBI ecosystem where customized reports can be created,” says Gupta.

Disha was developed in a hybrid mode with an in-house team and an analytics provider over the course of three years. It offers more than 200 customized dashboards, including a well-monitoring dashboard, a production-optimisation dashboard, a CEO and CCO dashboard, and a rig-scheduling dashboard.

“With data now easily and quickly accessible in an interactive format across the organisation, which was earlier restricted to a select few, the corrective actions for resource allocation are now based on the data,” Gupta says. “For instance, we leverage Disha to monitor the parameter and output of the electronic submersible pump, which handles oil and water. It helps us in tracking the gains achieved through MPC implementation. All this enables better decision-making and has helped to allocate resources in optimized manner, thus managing the decline in productivity.” Going forward, Cairn plans to partner with a few big analytics providers and build a single platform to help contextualize its data and deploy micro solutions, according to business needs. “This will be a low-code platform that will enable individual teams to build solutions on their own,” Gupta says. “The initiatives are oriented towards sustaining the production levels, while reducing time to first oil. Some of the initiatives include artificial lift system monitoring, well monitoring, and well-test validation,” says Gupta.

Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation

Harrison Grierson Chief Digital Officer Terri Carajannis on being ‘chief cheerleader’ for digital, the importance of wellbeing at work and why magic happens when you hear from everybody.

Watch this episode:

Careers, CIO, CIO Leadership Live

Digital Transformation


How Cairn Oil & Gas is using IT to overcome one business challenge after another

CIO Sandeep Gupta’s innovative use of technology has enabled the company to cut costs, reduce time to first oil, and manage decline in production.

Jul, 4 2022

Digital twin helps NTT Indycar deliver better race experience to fans

Digital twin, AI, and predictive analytics help put fans behind the wheel of race cars in the NTT Indycar Series, including the iconic Indianapolis 500.

Jul, 1 2022

Digital transformation never stops at IBM’s semiconductor plant in Québec

Exploiting extreme automation, secure operations, and a local talent pool, the computer giant’s largest semiconductor plant’s IT management evolves continuously as it develops new tech.

Jun, 30 2022

JLL source-to-pay transformation proves value of automation

Born of the pandemic, the commercial real-estate company’s global source-to-pay automation system overcame localization and change management challenges to become a blueprint for a new strategic imperative.

Jun, 27 2022

Kimberly-Clark’s business-first approach to digital transformation

Global CIO Manoj Kumbhat is overhauling IT to facilitate a business transformation aimed at bringing the personal-care corporation closer to its customers.

Jun, 24 2022
IDG TECHtalk Voices

How to enable cultural change through cloud adoption

Adopting hyperscale cloud can position your organization to react faster to the next “new normal.”

Jun, 21 2022

12 tips for achieving IT agility in the digital era

The pandemic has proved IT agility is an existential imperative. IT leaders versed with agile transformation share tips for speeding up IT’s ability to create business value and navigate change.

Jun, 15 2022

The 10 biggest issues IT faces today

Economic, market, and worldwide turbulence continue to reshape the CIO agenda as priorities shift mid-year.

Jun, 13 2022

Mattel innovation becomes toy maker’s e-commerce core

A startup-like initiative to enrich customer engagement with limited-release collectibles during the pandemic now fuels Mattel’s direct-to-consumer online business, opening new IP-based revenue sources for the company.

Jun, 13 2022

AI in the cloud pays dividends for Liberty Mutual

The insurer’s mature cloud foundation has facilitated extensive use of emerging technologies, in particular machine learning models that help deliver premium service, CIO James McGlennon says.

May, 27 2022

Streamlining IT for agility

IT leaders share their experiences and advice for overhauling IT for speed, including cutting down on projects, shifting to product-based delivery, and spurring a cultural transformation.

May, 25 2022

McDermott data innovations fuel business transformation

The oil rig contractor is shifting to stay ahead of sustainability trends. New products borne of IT innovations around the company’s data operations are helping it get there, CIO Vagesh Dave says.

May, 23 2022

IT leaders take on pandemic tech debt

The past two years have seen CIOs accelerating digital initiatives as a matter of business survival. Now, those services are being reassessed for long-term value, as CIOs finally get serious about ensuring technical debt is no longer a drag.

May, 23 2022

National Grid’s energy transformation is fueled by IT

Global CIO Adriana Karaboutis is modernizing the utility’s data stack and digitizing its grid to transform National Grid into an ‘intelligent connected utility’ capable of integrating with a range of energy sources.

May, 19 2022

Ciena takes aim at the ‘ticket-less’ call center

The networking services company has turned to Amazon Connect to develop a cloud-based contact center geared for delivering enhanced customer service and reduced costs.

May, 17 2022
The CIO Whisperers

Veteran CIO Neal Sample: All architecture is wrong

The business executive, technologist, and former champion debater explains why you should go where the data takes you and how to avoid getting too invested in your ideas.

May, 12 2022

Reskilling IT for digital success in a tight talent market

IT leaders are upskilling IT staff in sought-after skills to support organizational transformations — and to improve employee retention. Here, CIOs share training strategies and lessons learned.

May, 9 2022

United transforms travel experience with Agent on Demand

The airlines’ digital customer service gives travelers access to live agents via the web when flight itineraries go awry, easing uncertainty and stress while driving significant cost savings.

May, 6 2022

What’s next for digital transformation?

Thirty-plus years is a long time to be stuck on something. Is it time we move on?

May, 2 2022

Backcountry modernizes for the cloud era

A complete overhaul of its ecommerce stack finds the outdoor recreational retailer poised to offer improved customer experiences and personalization just as it starts a push to open more physical stores.

Apr, 26 2022
IDG TECHtalk Voices

The unfulfilled promise of automation: DNA matters

Process automation brings much-needed efficiencies, but enterprise DNA is essential for the long-term strategy, ensuring business resiliency and innovation.

Apr, 19 2022

7 secrets of successful digital transformations

Getting digital right requires more than executive buy-in and financial commitment. It requires a nuanced approach to strategy, implementation, and collaboration.

Apr, 18 2022
IDG TECHtalk Voices

CIOs can and should play a pivotal role in ESG strategy

The ability to provide transparent, data-driven insights and measure progress toward objectives makes the CIO critical to the success of any ESG strategy.

Apr, 14 2022

ATD banks on B2B digital transformation

The wholesale tire distributor has overhauled its core integration layer to be 100% cloud-native in preparation to offer slick digital sales channels to B2B buyers tired of traditional call centers.

Apr, 14 2022

Truist CIO Scott Case on adopting a digital transformation mindset

For Case and his team, the pandemic, combined with the company’s merger, forced a focus on serving clients that became the guiding principle of their digital transformation.

Apr, 13 2022

15 most misused buzzwords in IT

The tech industry is rife with overhyped jargon. Here IT leaders discuss buzzy terms all too often misapplied by vendors and colleagues alike.

Apr, 12 2022

Clean Harbors’ CIO: Hybrid approach to the cloud is a win-win

The hazardous waste cleanup giant is deploying AI and RPA in Azure cloud and integrating data with its on-premises Waste Information Network.

Apr, 4 2022
Movers and Shakers

At Black & Veatch, a new IT operating model enables digital opportunities

CIO Irvin Bishop says the new model ensures that the company either wins, learns, or fails fast on its digital investments – but never loses.

Mar, 30 2022

SDG&E seeks speed advantage in the cloud

At San Diego Gas & Electric, digital transformation isn’t just a technology refresh but a wholesale change in its business, with speed gains afforded by the cloud being central to its strategy.

Mar, 29 2022

Paul Martin: CIOs don’t retire, they go work on boards

The retired CIO and member of four public company boards knows firsthand the value of technology expertise to corporate boards. Here, he shares an insider’s view from the other side of the boardroom table.

Mar, 25 2022

What is a chief digital officer? A digital strategist and evangelist in chief

A chief digital officer strategically transforms a company’s technological future in a way many CIOs don’t have the bandwidth to do.

Mar, 24 2022

Modernizing the mainframe for the digital era

The venerable platform continues to run critical applications while looking toward a future of open source, cloud, containers, AI, and much-needed new talent.

Mar, 24 2022

State of the CIO, 2022: Focus turns to IT fundamentals

CIOs are once again walking a tightrope between innovation and operational excellence—this time, buoyed by strong LOB alliances and a lingering pandemic glow.

Mar, 21 2022
IDG TECHtalk Voices

3 trends driving transformation decisions in healthcare IT

At the ViVE 2022 health IT conference, CIOs had plenty to talk about as the industry transforms

Mar, 18 2022
Movers and Shakers

How CommScope restructured IT for better business partnership

To enable the global high-tech company’s business transformation, CIO Praveen Jonnala and the IT team asked themselves, ‘Who do we want to be?’ The result is a reimagined IT organization with empathy and humility at the core.

Mar, 16 2022

UAB IT helps fuel genomic breakthroughs

The University of Alabama-Birmingham’s digital transformation is compounding what its scientific researchers can achieve. Systems that work in synergy with scientists is key, says CIO Dr. Curtis Carver.

Mar, 10 2022

CIO change agents: Lessons from the front lines of IT transformations

Leading CIOs from the energy, financial, fashion, and fleet management sectors discuss how they changed their IT organizations to pave the way for business transformation.

Mar, 7 2022
The CIO Whisperers

Abbott CIO Sabina Ewing on becoming an IT talent magnet

The technology executive explains how to create a differentiated employee experience to drive 21st century business results.

Mar, 3 2022

How Blackwoods handled its CIO’s health crisis in the midst of a digital transformation

CIO Claudio Salinas was diagnosed with blood cancer in the midst of both a major platform transformation effort and the scramble to adapt to the pandemic. Here’s how he and his team stayed on course at the Australian retailer.

Mar, 2 2022

Shell sees AI as fuel for its sustainability goals

The energy giant’s dual-cloud transformation includes a data lake architecture that AI chief Dan Jeavons says is catalyzing business efficiencies and will prove key in cutting carbon emissions over time.

Feb, 28 2022

Rolls-Royce CIDO Stuart Hughes on leaning into IoT

The engine manufacturer is leveraging IoT data to tailor maintenance and overhaul to the individual engine rather than the product family.

Feb, 23 2022

Anadolu Efes CIO drives AI-fuelled data, analytics strategy

Murat Ozkan, chief information and digital officer at Anadolu Efes, the Turkey-based international beverages company, talks about how a data management strategy comprising AI and analytics will sustain further growth.

Feb, 16 2022
Movers and Shakers

3 IT initiatives fueling business transformation at Zebra Technologies

Who says a zebra can’t change its stripes? CIO Deepak Kaul explains how a hub and spoke data model, along with cloud-based ERP and infrastructure, are at the heart of Zebra’s changing business model.

Feb, 16 2022

JLL CIO Edward Wagoner on leading change

What worked in the past isn’t going to work in the future, says Wagoner. His advice: engage and welcome the different ways of thinking that are so critical for transformation.

Feb, 16 2022
News Analysis

What is ServiceNow Impact? An app to keep digital transformations on track

ServiceNow is offering to help CIOs get more value from their investment — if they’ll pay just a little more.

Feb, 14 2022

Disney data clean room helps advertisers leverage audience analysis

Aiming to give advertisers access to a vast quantity of audience data while protecting users’ privacy, Disney Advertising Sales has taken a data clean room approach to data governance.

Feb, 14 2022

Papa Johns IT turns to Splunk for Super Bowl spike

The pizza delivery and carryout chain has established a real-time monitoring system in the cloud to ensure its pizza-making operations go smoothly, even under high demand.

Feb, 11 2022

Walgreens Boots Alliance gets personal with AI

The pharmacy chain is leveraging its cloud-first digital transformation to better serve its customers, thanks to a data foundation retooled for speedier analytics and the latest machine learning technologies.

Feb, 11 2022

Generac CIO Tim Dickson: Why CIO reporting relationships matter for digital transformation success

The 62-year old Fortune 1000 manufacturing company is transforming into an energy technology solutions provider, with IT at the forefront. CIO Tim Dickson shares his thoughts on how data is creating new business opportunities and how reporting to the CEO elevates IT.

Feb, 9 2022

Reimagining IT at Liberty Mutual

Like many IT leaders, James McGlennon has been on a journey to transform IT to support a new era of business productivity, a move accelerated and shaped by the pandemic.

Feb, 2 2022

US Xpress goes digital for the long haul

Digital transformation positions the freight carrier well in a tight market for truckers, paving the way for improved operations and data-driven decision-making.

Jan, 28 2022
Movers and Shakers

A platform model drives digital innovation at Zoetis

As CIDO of the global $6.7B animal health business, Wafaa Mamilli’s job is to find new areas of revenue generation.

Jan, 26 2022

8 top priorities for CIOs in 2022

2022 promises to be both exciting and challenging for IT leaders. To get the most value from IT in the year ahead, tech chiefs should focus on the following key initiatives.

Jan, 18 2022

Camira Fabrics weaves together EDI and API integrations

What began as a move to bring EDI management in house led to the creation of new APIs for shipping, and has opened the door to future infrastructure modernization.

Jan, 18 2022
The CIO Whisperers

FedEx EVP/CIO Ken Spangler on enterprise agility as an enabler for innovation

The FedEx business leader shares why the strategic operating principles of competing collectively, operating collaboratively, and innovating digitally matter more than ever.

Jan, 13 2022

AI/ML at scale: The next horizon for PPG’s data strategy

At PPG, data is key not only to IT strategy, but to enabling business strategy, says Jeff Lipniskis, global IT director. With a solid foundation in place, his focus now is on being AI ready.

Jan, 12 2022

Top 7 challenges IT leaders will face in 2022

Facilitating hybrid working environments and ensuring a skills match for future success top the list of tough, ongoing issues IT leaders must navigate this year.

Jan, 11 2022
Movers and Shakers

Digital product factories enable a new business model at Toyota Financial Services

Chief innovation and digital officer Vipin Gupta and his team turned transformation logic upside down to create a mobility-finance-as-a-service platform that TFS now offers as a white label service to other mobility companies.

Jan, 5 2022
IDG TECHtalk Voices

Healthcare leaders: Don’t let telehealth be a pitfall

Virtual healthcare has proven its value – now, it’s time to expand and improve upon that foundation.

Jan, 4 2022

10 IT resolutions for 2022

IT leaders share their visions on how they hope to transform their teams, their organizations, and themselves in the new year.

Jan, 3 2022

CIOs spell out top tech priorities for 2022

AI and automation will take center stage, as cloud and collaboration continue to impact IT agendas — and IT leaders keep apprised of disprupive technologies on the horizon.

Dec, 22 2021

ParkMobile’s cloud transformation paves way to new business

The parking service provider turned a business downturn at the beginning of the pandemic into an opportunity to accelerate an infrastructure shift to the cloud.

Dec, 17 2021

Avery Dennison CIO Nick Colisto on enabling business innovation

The manufacturing company’s VP and CIO, and 2021 inductee into CIO’s Hall of Fame, discusses creating a culture that “can ignite creativity and agility” in a video interview with CIO contributing editor Julia King.

Dec, 15 2021

What is a digital twin? A real-time, virtual representation

Digital twins are real-time representations of objects, processes, and systems that can help organizations monitor operations, perform predictive maintenance, and improve processes.

Dec, 14 2021

Cross-functional teams: The new IT imperative

Blending IT and business professionals in agile teams with autonomy over outcomes is fast becoming a key factor for digital success.

Dec, 14 2021

IT takes on a product mindset

The need to co-create with the business has many CIOs shifting away from IT projects in favor of a product-based approach that, like so much else in business, is a journey that takes time to nurture and succeed.

Dec, 8 2021

7 digital disruption myths

Myths play an important role in history and culture, yet when it comes to digital disruption, believing in fables can be both destructive and career crippling.

Dec, 7 2021
Building IT Relationships

4 trends disrupting managed infrastructure services

As providers adapt their go-to-market strategies, customers must plan ahead.

Dec, 7 2021
Movers and Shakers

The Hanover CIO Will Lee: Our architecture must have optionality built in

The P&C insurance market is changing so quickly that Will Lee, CIO, is asking his team to focus both on near-term and long-term transformation. Critically important to the second horizon, says Lee, is an architecture that can allow the business to pivot.

Dec, 1 2021
Managing Innovation & Disruptive Technology

10 strategic tech trends for the infrastructure industry in 2022

The time has come for digital transformation in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. Here are 10 technology trends that will shape the future of infrastructure.

Nov, 24 2021
IDG TECHtalk Voices

Three concepts to embrace for effective digitally driven innovation

As digital transformation moves from buzzword to business priority, understanding three critical concepts – and the subtle differences among them – will help you make the right adjustments to strategies and mindsets.

Nov, 23 2021

The Library of Congress goes digital

CIO Judith Conklin discusses the ongoing cloud migration and digitization of the world’s largest library — a massive endeavor to make more of its 170 million assets available to all.

Nov, 19 2021
Movers and Shakers

Air Products CIO overhauls IT to support business transformation

To enable the $9 billion industrial gas provider to deliver new “mega projects,” CIO Brian Galovich has put self-service at the center of the target architecture, moved infrastructure to the cloud, digitized key business processes, and updated the IT operating model.

Nov, 17 2021

Winter 2021: Supercharging IT innovation

As organizations seek to accelerate their digital transformations, time to market, and development of new customer engagement channels, CIOs must find ways to sustain innovation. Read on for advice for upping innovation velocity and more.

Nov, 17 2021

Lexmark’s Andy Kopp on democratizing data

The printer manufacturer’s Director of Transformation Products discusses the business impact of providing data-as-a-service with’s Thor Olavsrud.

Nov, 13 2021

Wells Fargo lays foundation for public cloud transformation

The financial firm is poised to launch a 10-year journey to overhaul its operations around a hybrid private and public multicloud architecture powered by Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Nov, 12 2021

Cushman & Wakefield dials up property sales and services with digital twins

The commercial real estate firm’s innovation mindset positioned it well to handle a business surge driven by the pandemic.

Nov, 11 2021

8 tips for streamlining legacy IT

Whether for stability’s sake or to support vital business processes, most CIOs still have to retain legacy apps and infrastructure. But that doesn’t have to mean hobbling along.

Nov, 8 2021

Warner’s last mile on a long cloud journey

For more than a decade, Warner Music Group has been orchestrating an all-in cloud transformation. Its adoption of networking as a service may be the final note.

Nov, 5 2021
IDG TECHtalk Voices

How foresight enhances strategic planning in times of uncertainty

The future cannot be predicted, but strategic foresight enables leaders to embrace uncertainty by better understanding, anticipating, and preparing for change.

Oct, 26 2021
Movers and Shakers

At Ingram Micro, digital change starts with the customer journey

The technology distributor’s entire digital transformation is “geared toward creating a single pane of glass for the lifecycle of customer engagement,” says CDO Sanjib Sahoo. His recipe for success includes establishing the right mindset, creating a balanced execution plan, and architecting technology to anticipate pivots.

Oct, 20 2021
IDG TECHtalk Voices

Why gamification is a great tool for employee engagement

The rewards a gamer gets for completing levels or collecting points can be replicated in a workplace environment to improve engagement, motivate personal growth, and encourage continuous improvement.

Oct, 14 2021
The CIO Whisperers

5 questions with Dow’s Melanie Kalmar

Learn how this top CIO drives real business value through IT and how she fosters innovation at the 125-year-old company.

Sep, 30 2021
Movers and Shakers

Developing a digital culture at U. S. Steel

At one of the world’s largest steel companies, digital success springs from solid business cases, a culture of innovation, and diligent change management, says CIO Steve Bugajski.

Sep, 29 2021

ADM takes process-oriented approach to IT modernization

Food ingredients supplier Archer Daniels Midland is consolidating IT systems as part of a transformation that includes standardizing many of its business processes worldwide.

Sep, 28 2021
Movers and Shakers

How Johnson Controls is going ‘digital to the core’

As the multinational conglomerate transforms to bring cutting-edge digital products and services to customers, CIO Diane Schwarz ensures that it is digital on the inside as well.

Sep, 22 2021
IDG TECHtalk Voices

Why Big Tech can’t crack healthcare

Technologists cannot disrupt healthcare without a complete understanding of the operating model. Co-creation is the best path forward.

Sep, 17 2021

10 impediments to IT innovation

From inefficient IT operations to an inability to upskill at pace, innovation is often undercut by ingrained organizational issues that IT leaders must change.

Sep, 13 2021

7 hot digital transformation trends — and 3 going cold

The pandemic has seen organizations doubling down on true transformation. Here’s how digital initiatives are reshaping technology strategies and revolutionizing how work gets done.

Aug, 30 2021

8 tips for improving customer experience

CX is the new IT imperative. Here’s how IT leaders can staff up, get agile, and spearhead tech initiatives that deliver experiences that win over customers.

Aug, 24 2021

Carhartt ups its sales prospects with AI

The apparel company has developed an AI-driven tool that helps its go-to-market divisions take a coordinated data-driven approach to expanding their footprint in the marketplace.

Aug, 24 2021

Fall 2021: Digital’s tipping point

Learn how IT leaders in award-winning organizations are reimagining products and services for a new era of customer and employee engagement.

Aug, 18 2021

Digital twins: 4 success stories

These four companies are using digital twins to monitor operations, plan predictive maintenance, improve customer service, and optimize their supply chains.

Aug, 18 2021

Customer experience: The new IT imperative

CX has become a key factor for company success, and CIOs are rethinking operations and organizational culture to ensure customers remain squarely in focus with everything IT does.

Aug, 16 2021

Brown-Forman ‘digital shelf’ provides top-flight e-commerce

Amid pandemic shutdowns, the Jack Daniels purveyor doubled down on digital asset management to sell its spirits online, earning CIO Tim Nall a seat at the executive table.

Aug, 16 2021

Pfizer drives digital operations overhaul

With the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst, the pharmaceutical company has accelerated its digital transformation to manage its operations and supply chain more effectively.

Aug, 10 2021

7 skills of successful digital leaders

Effective digital transformation requires strong leadership. Here’s how to helm your company’s digital journey through considerable organizational change.

Aug, 9 2021

4 digital customer experience success stories

Walmart, Ally Financial, and Raytheon are among the wide range of companies that have moved rapidly to build out new digital services to accommodate customer preferences.

Aug, 5 2021
Movers and Shakers

CVS Health puts customers at the center in product management shift

CIO Roshan Navagamuwa explains how a software engineering culture and four-layer architecture are helping $268B CVS Health become the world’s leading health solutions company.

Aug, 4 2021

Papa John’s serves up AI for more efficient ordering

The quick-service chain rolls out AI-assisted call center software to help humans focus more on making and delivering its pizzas.

Aug, 3 2021


Learn More


BrandPosts are written and edited by members of our sponsor
community. BrandPosts create an opportunity for an individual
sponsor to provide insight and commentary from their point-of-view
directly to our audience. The editorial team does not participate
in the writing or editing of BrandPosts.

Fog computing extends the concept of cloud computing to the network edge, making it ideal for internet of things (IoT) and other applications that require real-time interactions.

Fog computing is the concept of a network fabric that stretches from the outer edges of where data is created to where it will eventually be stored, whether that’s in the cloud or in a customer’s data center.

Fog is another layer of a distributed network environment and is closely associated with cloud computing and the internet of things (IoT). Public infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud vendors can be thought of as a high-level, global endpoint for data; the edge of the network is where data from IoT devices is created.

Fog computing is the idea of a distributed network that connects these two environments. “Fog provides the missing link for what data needs to be pushed to the cloud, and what can be analyzed locally, at the edge,” explains Mung Chiang, dean of Purdue University’s College of Engineering and one of the nation’s top researchers on fog and edge computing.

According to the OpenFog Consortium, a group of vendors and research organizations advocating for the advancement of standards in this technology, fog computing is “a system-level horizontal architecture that distributes resources and services of computing, storage, control and networking anywhere along the continuum from Cloud to Things.”

Benefits of fog computing

Fundamentally, the development of fog computing frameworks gives organizations more choices for processing data wherever it is most appropriate to do so. For some applications, data may need to be processed as quickly as possible – for example, in a manufacturing use case where connected machines need to be able to respond to an incident as soon as possible.

Fog computing can create low-latency network connections between devices and analytics endpoints. This architecture in turn reduces the amount of bandwidth needed compared to if that data had to be sent all the way back to a data center or cloud for processing. It can also be used in scenarios where there is no bandwidth connection to send data, so it must be processed close to where it is created. As an added benefit, users can place security features in a fog network, from segmented network traffic to virtual firewalls to protect it.

Applications of fog computing

Fog computing is the nascent stages of being rolled out in formal deployments, but there are a variety of use cases that have been identified as potential ideal scenarios for fog computing.

Connected Cars: The advent of semi-autonomous and self-driving cars will only increase the already large amount of data vehicles create. Having cars operate independently requires a capability to locally analyze certain data in real-time, such as surroundings, driving conditions and directions. Other data may need to be sent back to a manufacturer to help improve vehicle maintenance or track vehicle usage. A fog computing environment would enable communications for all of these data sources both at the edge (in the car), and to its end point (the manufacturer).

Smart cities and smart grids Like connected cars, utility systems are increasingly using real-time data to more efficiently run systems. Sometimes this data is in remote areas, so processing close to where its created is essential. Other times the data needs to be aggregated from a large number of sensors. Fog computing architectures could be devised to solve both of these issues.

Real-time analytics A host of use cases call for real-time analytics. From manufacturing systems that need to be able to react to events as they happen, to financial institutions that use real-time data to inform trading decisions or monitor for fraud. Fog computing deployments can help facilitate the transfer of data between where its created and a variety of places where it needs to go.

Fog computing and 5G mobile computing

Some experts believe the expected roll out of 5G mobile connections in 2018 and beyond could create more opportunity for fog computing. “5G technology in some cases requires very dense antenna deployments,” explains Andrew Duggan, senior vice president of technology planning and network architecture at CenturyLink. In some circumstances antennas need to be less than 20 kilometers from one another. In a use case like this, a fog computing architecture could be created among these stations that includes a centralized controller that manages applications running on this 5G network, and handles connections to back-end data centers or clouds.

How does fog computing work?

A fog computing fabric can have a variety of components and functions. It could include fog computing gateways that accept data IoT devices have collected. It could include a variety of wired and wireless granular collection endpoints, including ruggedized routers and switching equipment. Other aspects could include customer premise equipment (CPE) and gateways to access edge nodes. Higher up the stack fog computing architectures would also touch core networks and routers and eventually global cloud services and servers.

The OpenFog Consortium, the group developing reference architectures, has outlined three goals for developing a fog framework. Fog environments should be horizontally scalable, meaning it will support multiple industry vertical use cases; be able to work across the cloud to things continuum; and be a system-level technology, that extends from things, over network edges, through to the cloud and across various network protocols. (See video below for more on fog computing from the OpenFog Consortium.)

Are fog computing and edge computing the same thing?

Helder Antunes, senior director of corporate strategic innovation at Cisco and a member of the OpenFog Consortium, says that edge computing is a component, or a subset of fog computing. Think of fog computing as the way data is processed from where it is created to where it will be stored. Edge computing refers just to data being processed close to where it is created. Fog computing encapsulates not just that edge processing, but also the network connections needed to bring that data from the edge to its end point.

[ Related (NetworkWorld): What is edge computing and how it’s changing the network ]

Based on actual users’ experience with IoT platforms, here are the leading features and functionalities potential users should be looking for.

Article published on NetworkWorld by , Contributor, Jan 16, 2018

As an IoT platform and middleware analyst, I am asked constantly about the benefits of IoT platforms and “what makes a great IoT platform.” In response, I often ask these curious inquirers if they’ve ever used IoT platforms themselves. Walking on the edge is exhilarating, but having hands-on insights, data and expertise on how to survive the journey is even better.

What do users actually experience when they use IoT edge platforms?

IoT edge computing is a technology architecture that brings certain computational and analytics capabilities near the point of data generation. IoT edge platforms provide the management capabilities required to deliver data from IoT devices to applications while ensuring that devices are properly managed over their lifetimes. Enterprises use edge platforms for factory automation, warehousing/logistics, connected retail, connected mining and many other solutions. With IoT platform revenue slated to grow to USD63.4 billion by 2026, IoT edge is one of the most highly relied upon enterprise IoT platform approaches.

Enterprises spend a tremendous amount of time completing edge-related IoT platform activities. According to hands-on tests of IoT platforms in MachNation’s IoT Test Environment (MIT-E), the majority of an enterprise user’s edge-related time is spent creating visualizations to gain insight from IoT data. 35% of a user’s time is spent creating dashboards with filtered alerts. And a combined 16% of a user’s time is spent viewing sensor data for an individual device (8%) or a group of devices (8%). Data from an IoT platform are critically important, so the ability to assemble dashboard sensor data and alerts are key – expect to spend a lot of time doing it.

Since the edge is critical for enterprises deploying IoT solutions, we’ve identified the top five user requirements of IoT edge platforms, based on IoT platform users’ experiences with these platforms.

1. Pick a platform with extensive protocol support for data ingestion

To seamlessly bring data from devices into the edge platform, enterprises should choose leading IoT platforms that support an extensive mix of protocols for data ingestion. The list of protocols for industrial-minded edge platforms generally includes brownfield deployment staples such as OPC-UA, BACNET and MODBUS as well as more current ones such as ZeroMQ, Zigbee, BLE and Thread. Equally as important, the platform must be modular in its support for protocols, allowing customization of existing and development of new means of asset communications.

2. Ensure the platform has robust capability for offline functionality

To ensure that the edge platform works when connectivity is down or limited, enterprises should choose leading IoT edge platforms that provide capabilities in four functional areas. First, edge systems need to offer data normalization to successfully clean noisy sensor data. Second, these systems must offer storage to support intermittent, unreliable or limited connectivity between the edge and the cloud. Third, an edge system needs a flexible event processing engine at the edge making it possible to generate insight from machine data when connectivity is constrained. Fourth, an IoT edge-enabled platform should integrate with systems including ERP, MES, inventory management and supply chain management to help ensure business continuity and access to real-time machine data.

3. Make sure the platform provides cloud-based orchestration to support device lifecycle management

To make sure that the edge platform offers highly secure device management, enterprises should select IoT platforms that offer cloud-based orchestration for provisioning, monitoring and updating of connected assets. Leading IoT platforms provide factory provisioning capabilities for IoT devices. These API-based interactions allow a device to be preloaded with certificates, keys, edge applications and an initial configuration before it is shipped to the customer. In addition, platforms should monitor the device using a stream of machine and operational data that can be selectively synced with cloud instances. Finally, an IoT platform should push updates over-the-air to edge applications, the platform itself, gateway OSs, device drivers and devices connected to a gateway.

4. The platform needs a hardware-agnostic scalable architecture

Since there are tens of thousands of device types in the world, enterprises should select IoT platforms that are capable of running on a wide range of gateways and specialized devices. And these platforms should employ the same software stack at the edge and in the cloud allowing a seamless allocation of resources. Platforms should support IoT hardware powered by chips that use ARM-, x86-, and MIPS-based architectures. Using containerization technologies and native cross-compilation, the platforms offer a hardware-agnostic approach that makes it possible to deploy the same set of functionalities across a varied set of IoT hardware without modifications.

5. Comprehensive analytics and visualization tools make a big difference

As we’ve already discussed enterprises should choose IoT platforms that offer out-of-the-box capabilities to aggregate data, run common statistical analyses and visualize data. These platforms should make it easy to integrate leading analytics toolsets and use them to supplement or replace built-in functionality. Different IoT platform users will require different analyses and visualization capabilities. For example, a plant manager and a machine worker will want to access interactive dashboards that deliver useful information and relevant controls for each of their respective roles. Having flexibility in analytics and visualization capabilities will be essential for enterprises as they develop IoT solutions for their multiple business units and operations teams.

Enterprises worldwide are using IoT to increase security, improve productivity, provide higher levels of service and reduce maintenance costs. As they seek to adopt IoT solutions to improve their critical business processes, they should conduct hands-on usability tests to understand edge platform capabilities. Keep watching as more and more enterprises start walking on the edge.