Earlier this year (2020), Apacer, a global leader in industrial storage and memory, announced the formation of a partnership with Advantech, a global leader in industrial computing. Through this partnership, Apacer’s Double-barreled Solution (DBS) was integrated with Advantech’s WISE-PaaS Industrial IoT Data Application Platform and DeviceOn IoT device management software to create DBS Cloud Edition.
DBS Cloud Edition allows customers to upload SSD usage data and factory resource status to the cloud for real-time monitoring and management—improving operational efficiency of the production system and using value-added information generated through big data analysis to expedite digital transformation processes.
As industrial control technology continues evolving with the advent of artificial intelligence of things (AIoT), customers have an increasing number of devices to deploy, says Ivan Chu, Manager of Sales Marketing at Apacer. Some devices operate in faraway locations and prove difficult to monitor and manage, Chu adds. If these devices are fixed only when they are down, consequent delays in production risk incurring serious losses.
Apacer’s DBS plus Advantech’s WSIE-PaaS and DeviceOn: centralized monitoring and management for IPCs and SSDs
DBS, introduced by Apacer several years ago, is designed to resolve these challenges. It effectively monitors and diagnoses the health status of industrial-grade solid-state drives (SSDs) so users can proactively identify and resolve technical issues to reduce the likelihood of sudden failures. While Apacer offers an API and SDK for DBS, in recent years customer demand grew for DBS to merge into an existing cloud environment, with cloud services used to create an IoT management platform. Toward that goal, Apacer worked with Advantech to expand the use of DBS; leveraging the flexible deployment and high scalability of WISE-PaaS and the straightforward, easy-to-use visualization tools of DeviceOn to build a user interface where customers monitor all field-based industrial PCs (IPCs) and SSDs in real time.
DBS is composed of two core units. One is CoreAnalyzer2, a firmware technology that records the SSD usage in real time and accurately analyzes the workload to help customers understand which SSD and firmware combination will be most suitable for a particular application. The other is SSDWidget2.0, an intelligent utility that monitors SSD health status and predicts the end of a drive’s lifetime to prevent data loss. Integrating both units with WISE-PaaS and DeviceOn effectively brought DBS Cloud Edition into being.
Rison Yeh, senior software manager at Advantech, says that because SSD failures normally arise from sudden power shutdowns and factors related to lifetime and temperature, conducting preventive SSD maintenance requires monitoring critical parameters in real time—which DBS is capable of doing—such as temperature, number of sudden power shutdowns, and read/write frequency. DeviceOn, which is intended as a service for managing general IoT devices and offers numerous impressive features, must be used to monitor peripheral devices in addition to IPCs in order to provide a comprehensive solution across different fields. An SSD is a key unit that underpins the workings of an operating system. The blue screen of death, system shutdown, and data losses occur often when the drive fails to function properly. This makes it necessary to monitor SSDs in real time. Working with Apacer, Advantech used WISE-PaaS and DeviceOn to build a remote system where critical SSD data can be collected and visualized, drives can be monitored and managed, and alerts can be quickly and easily viewed.
DBS Cloud Edition monitors changes in key SSD parameters to perform prognostic testing
Advantech provides an SDK and UI necessary for Apacer to feed data collected by DBS into DeviceOn. The data is then visualized on a dashboard program or customized UI to offer a solution that meets customer needs. Chu notes that DBS Cloud Edition is equipped with an algorithm—developed by Apacer using its deep SSD knowledge—that dynamically assesses SSD health status. Health status can be quickly identified via red, yellow, and green lights on the DeviceOn dashboard. If anything goes wrong, an alert is sent to customers via WhatsApp, LINE, WeChat, email, or text message to facilitate a rapid response.
Customers of DBS Cloud Edition also enjoy the benefits of WISE-PaaS: deploying public or private clouds flexibly without being bound by the constraints of any cloud environment or physical location; using a flexible cloud-native platform environment built on a Kubernetes and microservice architecture to connect seamlessly with a variety of WISE-PaaS cloud services, such as visualization and AI framework services; and interfacing data easily from the edge-to-cloud—with quick and complete initialization and cloud uploading of device data to shorten deployment time and lower costs while reliably testing devices.
DBS Cloud Edition already offers several prominent use cases. The case in point is offered by Sam Chuo, manager of WISE-PaaS business development at Advantech. According to Chuo, woodworking machine manufacturers have learned that many technical issues technicians fix on site for their customers can be resolved by executing a reboot and most of these issues arise from abnormal power shutdowns. However, with DBS Cloud Edition, manufacturers can restart and debug customer devices remotely to reduce maintenance costs and provide logs of abnormal power shutdowns for customers. Doing so helps operators shut down devices properly so that customers avoid blue screens of death, reduce operating costs, and improve managerial efficiency.
Semiconductor producers feed massive production data through IPCs to the backend for value-added analysis. However, at times IPCs struggle with heavy read/write workloads and their SSDs fail to work properly, resulting in data loss. To address this issue, DBS Cloud Edition collects data about critical SSD parameters, including remaining lifetime, bad blocks, temperature, and workload, and performs prognostic testing based on threatening situations the AI anticipates.
These use cases illustrate how DBS, WISE-PaaS, and DeviceOn work together to enable high-value applications.
DBS Cloud Edition — a brainchild born out of integration between Apacer’s DBS and Advanetech’s WISE-PaaS and DeviceOn—continues to serve different customer needs in varied vertical markets, thereby deepening AIoT penetration from edge-to-cloud and helping unlock the potential of industrial IoT.