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Showing posts with label manufacturing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label manufacturing. Show all posts

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hitchhiker's Guide to Serverless JavaScript


Steven Faulkner
Although Serverless has become a bit of a buzzword recently, Steven Faulkner, Director of Platform Engineering at Bustle, disagrees that it is just a fad.
Although Serverless has become a bit of a buzzword recently, Steven Faulkner, Director of Platform Engineering at Bustle, disagrees that it is just a fad. In his talk at Node.js Interactive, he points out that much of the faults that people find in Serverless -- that it doesn't scale, that it is not production ready, that it’s too slow and expensive -- are provenly false.
Faulkner has made Serverless the backbone for Bustle's content since it became a thing a couple of years ago. This means he is in charge of all things back-end, but does a lot of front-end work, too. At Bustle, one of the largest women’s media properties online, they use serverless for 99 percent of the requests. This translates to between 10 and 20 million calls per day. Serverless has a latency of less than 200ms average, and it costs less than than their EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) base setup.

Serverless 101

Faulkner also addresses some of the misconceptions surrounding Serverless. The first is, admittedly, down to the name of the concept itself. Serverless is a misnomer because, clearly, there are still servers deep down somewhere.
However, Serverless is the result of answering the question "What if we abstracted all the servers away?" -- that is, what happens when you create a service that relieves the developers and admins from having to worry about the underlying server? Serverless implements "anything and everything as a Service," which is not a new concept.
Faulkner says Serverless is really about Functions as a Service (FaaS). The core tenants of FaaS are that code is only run when needed, you only pay when code is run, and you are not bothered with the details, in fact, your app is a function that sits between the request from and the response to the user:
There are several providers offering Serverless-Function as a Service. For example, Microsoft Azure has Azure Functions and Google has Cloud functions. IBM has an open source service called OpenWhisk. Faulkner, however, Faulkner thinks Amazon Web Services is ahead of everyone else in this arena and described some examples in his talk.

Why Use Serverless

Faulkner says there are several advantages to deploying web apps to a Serverless service. Despite what many think, Serverless does not mean NoOps; it means Less Ops. Serverless also scales, in the sense that fewer things change between when you have 1 request per second, and when you have 1000 requests per second.
Price is another factor. You only pay when somebody is using your code. This means you can maintain legacy services that you are not sure you should turn off quite yet, or you can deploy services you are not sure will be successful at zero cost.
But even when your code is running, it is still cheaper. Faulkner says that an API he uses to trail all the user tracking and event tracking on the Bustle website and then route it where it's meant to go costs $2500 month on EC2. On Lambda/API Gateway only $400 month.
For developers, it is easier to iterate at function-based level rather than on your whole application, and Serverless allows for single function deployments. This means you can do things very quickly by re-writing one single function and you can deploy it without affecting the whole. Amazon's service also makes for quicker deployments because you can deploy 50 functions and alias them all at once.

Why Not Use Serverless

There are, however, also several reasons why you may not want to use a Serverless service like Amazon's. There is, for example, the risk of becoming locked in. Migrating from a Serverless FaaS can be a minefield, but, according to Faulkner, from Amazon it is not that hard. He has a chunk of code 9 lines, an Express server, that calls the Lambda functions if you have to migrate.
Another problem is running cold functions. If you're doing something outside the function, like loading a bunch data before the first time your function runs, this can delay the first run an unacceptably long time. Amazon solves the problem by running all your functions within 3.5 hours of the upload.
Testing is yet another area that can cause problems. Testing individual functions is not too difficult according to Faulkner. But when you want to do integration testing across all of your functions, that is still painful.

Serverless at Bustle

At Bustle, the front-end serves up HTML and JavaScript through the API gateway. The application reads some static assets through S3 and uses Lambda for SSR (Server Side Rendering) to generate the actual pages.
On the back-end, Bustle uses GraphQL to fetch most of the data. The JSON generated by GraphQL is processed through API Gateway and Lambda, which are talking to dynamodb or redis, with some PostgreSQL thrown into the mix.


Despite all its advantages, if you are deploying more than two functions, it is very painful to deploy your stuff manually. That's where the tooling comes in. Faulkner mentions Serverless Frameworknode-lambda, apex, claudia.js as tools to check out. But, he also recommends his own open source tool, shep, which will allow you to build and deploy your serverless applications to Amazon's Lambda with a few simple commands.
For more examples and details, watch the complete presentation below:

If you are interested in speaking or attending Node.js Interactive North America 2017 - happening in Vancouver, Canada next fall - please subscribe to the Node.js community newsletter to keep abreast with dates and time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Numbers Don't Matter, Influence Does

CEO, Entrepreneur, Investor, Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Jets Fan
The importance that people and brands place on follower counts or the impressions their content receives is grossly overvalued. I can’t say numbers don’t matter, but the value everyone places on these numbers needs to be reconsidered.There is just too much emphasis on the width of engagement—how many potential connections they make—rather than the depth of those interactions which, in my eyes, is far more important.


The entire marketing world is blinded by the notion that more impressions always correlates to a successful piece of content (the sad part is, most of them don’t care about the business outcomes). For example, you might hear somebody say “500,000 people saw my YouTube pre-roll ad!” But, the truth is that they likely didn’t. What probably happened was that as soon as the ad started, the “viewer” clicked away to another tab or did something else until it was over. Or looked at their phone…. So even though they didn’t pay attention, the analytics still show that they saw it.
Not only can an impression count be misleading, but it may not even reflect a positive consumer engagement. There are companies I will never buy from again because their pop-up ads annoyed me so much—you know, the ones that havehundreds of extra “clickthroughs” because someone accidentally clicked on it 8 times because the “close window” icon was too small. While those extra clicks look like engagement, they were only expressions of frustration with the brand. That context gets lost when we are playing in a world that treats impressions as a be-all, end-all.


The same misconception can be applied to follower counts: they only matter if the audience actually cares and actively consumes your content. Followers can be absolutely everything or absolutely nothing.
Let’s say you have 20,000 followers on Instagram and 12,000 of them buy ten copies of your book because you posted about it. That type of conversion means you have an engaged audience consuming your content. That’s valuable.
On the other hand, let’s say you have 200,000 purchased fans. When you post something and it gets zero engagement, those followers have zero value because (1) they either don’t care about your content or (2) they’re not real. Either way, your follower count does not represent their real value to you.
Even the thought that a low number of followers can be considered “irrelevant” makes no sense to me. You can have 10, 10,000, or 1,000,000 followers and all it takes is for one post to be noticed by one person to cause a social media chain reaction. The absolute number does not matter. One retweet, one repost, one link in an email is enough to get the ball rolling.


Instead of talking about how many people see your content, we need to be focusing on how much value that piece of content actually brings your audience. For a consumer to get excited about something, to be compelled to click an ad or watch a video, it comes down to caring about your audience’s attention. And in order for you to win, they really need to consume it. That’s the game.
In terms of organic reach, the #1 platform in the world right now is Instagram (even with the new algorithm). If you have 297 followers on Instagram, 150 of them are actually going to consume your posts. On the reverse side, someone with 3,000 followers on Twitter would not command nearly as much attention due to Twitter’s noise problem. For any platform, you need to understand the context of how your followers are consuming. Once you do that, you can reverse engineer how you can go deep to connect with that consumer and how that “impression” translates into actual interest.
For my newest book release, I sent free advance copies to over 1,000 Instagram influencers and asked them to post a substantial longform review with a photo. Not on Amazon, not on Twitter, not on their blog, but Instagram. Why? Because I day trade attention and I understood that this tactic was going to command the most amount of awareness.
Snapchat also has great organic reach right now. It’s the reason why I’ve been so excited for custom Snapchat filters and Story takeovers. When someone is using a filter or watching a Story, they have intent and you can be sure they’re paying attention. Remember, it’s about depth, not width. It’s not how many you reach, it’s how many you connect with.
Bottom line: I don’t care how many people see something, “I care about how many people see something.” Quality over quantity. Depth over width. Reach does not equal value and follower count doesn’t mean people are listening. We need to stop focusing on optimizing the number of views and instead concentrate on making each one of those viewers care about your brand. Because, at the end of the day, that’s the only way you’ll drive results to your end goal.
This article was originally published at www.garyvaynerchuk.com/blog

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What’s Missing from the Industrial Internet of Things Conversation? Software

What’s Missing from the Industrial Internet of Things Conversation? Software

  • 3:14 PM  |  
These days, you can hardly have a technology conversation without talking about the Internet of Things (IoT). And when that conversation shifts its focus to the industrial sector, including energy, Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities, and petrochemicals, among others, the discussion changes to what is being called the “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIoT).
So what is all this hype about? The convergence of cheap processing, unending storage, massive bandwidth, near-ubiquitous connectivity, and cloud-based applications is driving new capabilities for gathering information and changing the way we interact with machines and services. The data generated by sensors in this network of connected devices is being collected and analyzed, spawning the growth of big data analytics and applications. And the resulting analytics are being used to improve business efficiency, better serve customers and disrupt old business models.
There will be nearly 26 billion connected devices by 2020, according to Gartner, which is an increase of 30 fold over 2009. Impressive, but what does it really mean to have all these devices connected to the internet? Is there any real value involved? Just because you can, does it mean that you should? We all remember the technology boom and bust of the late 1990s and early 2000s (aka Dot-com Bubble) that was fueled by an excessive amount of wishful thinking or “irrational exuberance.”
But the IIoT can and will be different – if we keep our collective eyes on the prize. Unlike consumer-based IoT that is trying to devise a way to make your world a better place by telling you when your washing machine needs service or letting you control all of your home’s systems while you are away, the IIoT is working to make our collective world a better place by improving the monitoring, control and safety of everything around us. In short, reducing risk and improving the reliability of our massive industrial systems. No small task given the amount of data that will be generated by all of those devices running around the clock.
But there is an important component missing from many conversations that will glue it all together: software.
Think about it: How good is your computer without a good operating system to make all those programs function properly, or your smartphone without a million apps to connect you and your friends or coworkers and the information you share? Large hardware vendors recognized long ago that it is the software that makes the hardware more valuable. Software supports the human interaction side of the equation by helping to turn data into information. But not just basic information, I am talking about critical, insightful, influential, and actionable information, without which we run the risk of potentially dangerous outcomes.
This next-generation software should be cloud-based because, let’s face it – on-premises solutions require significantly more time, money and resources than you would like to afford while trying to remain competitive. Advanced software should easily connect the existing enterprise asset management (EAM) or computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) with the field-based industrial devices and equipment. It should provide early, rapid insight into the volumes of data and information that mere mortals are expected to evaluate to find business opportunities and make recommendations as part of a larger asset performance management strategy. But more importantly, software should make it easier for your organization to achieve its highest objective: operational excellence.
Even in today’s increasing connected environment, industrial organizations do little more than make use of a minimal set of vendor-supplied analytics related to machine-specific solutions – automated instrument calibration, instant vibration analysis of pumps and compressors, or other equipment related algorithms. The analytical capabilities of affordable processing and storage capacity in new software solutions are just beginning to be tapped.
One key to discussing the software needs of the IIoT is to include asset performance diagnostics. More specifically, to take advantage of all the useful information out there and the connectivity promised by equipment and software vendors, we need to discuss asset performance diagnostics; the ability to quickly assess a plant’s equipment/asset status or ‘health’. This ability can be critical for merger and acquisition activity versus building new. This implies that we must be able to check across many equipment types, not just one or two manufacturer-specific reports, in order to understand where our metrics stand in relation to our industry peers.
Additionally, with next-generation software, organizations will gain enhanced asset reliability and comparative analysis for operational goals. Operators can perform better and faster analysis on collected data to report to the C-Suite executives, who then have better context for defining strategic goals. Comparative analytics provide the ability to internally compare the status and performance of the equipment or assets to “get your own house in order” and really ignite your continuous improvement initiatives. Next-generation software must help organizations “take it to the next level.” To get there, you need to benchmark your operations against your peers and competitors. That capability will help you move to the pinnacle of continuous improvement, and closer to overall operational excellence.
There is an enormous amount of data generated today and as new sensors are introduced in global industrial facilities, big data will become even bigger. Organizations still struggle with how to leverage that data operationally and strategically to better manage reliability strategy, operational risk and facility operations, which is why we need to insert software into our discussion of the IIoT.
Matt Cicciari is Associate Director of Solution Marketing at Meridium.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Report: World Industrial Robot Demand Up 38 Percent

Report: World Industrial Robot Demand Up 38 Percent

Robots on the rise in North America

Robots on the rise in North America

Posted by Rick Lingle, Technical Editor -- Packaging Digest, 2/7/2013 1:28:14 PM


The North American robotics market has recorded its strongest year ever in 2012, according to new statistics from Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry's trade group.

A total of 22,598 robots valued at $1.48 billion were sold to companies in North America in 2012, beating the previous record of 19,337 robots sold in 2011. When sales by North American robot suppliers to companies outside North America are included, the totals are 25,557 robots valued at $1.66 billion.

Compared to 2011, North American orders were up 17% in units and 27% in dollars.

"The Automotive industry has continued to be the strongest driver of the North American robotics market," says Alex Shikany, Director of Market Analysis for RIA. "Robots sold to automotive OEMs in North America jum
ped 47% over a then record-setting 2011, while robots sold to automotive component suppliers increased 21%," he noted.

Industry, applications results

Sales were also up in metalworking industries (+12%) and life sciences/pharmaceuticals (+3%). In terms of applications, increases were seen in assembly (+40%), spot welding (+37%), arc welding (+24%), coating & dispensing (+13%), and material handling (+3%).

The fourth quarter of 2012 was the strongest quarter ever recorded by RIA (the association began reporting data in 1984) in terms of units ordered, with 6,235 robots sold to North American companies. The fourth quarter w
as up nine percent in units and 21 percent in dollars over the same period in 2011.

"It is promising to see such positive growth in robotics despite the tumultuous manufacturing environment throughout 2012" says Jeff Burnstein, President of RIA. "This growth is an indication that more North American companies are looking to automate in order to reduce costs and increase productivity, and that is a good sign for robotics."

U.S. trails only Japan in robotics use

RIA estimates that some 225,000 robots are now at use in United States factories, placing the U.S. second only to Japan in robot use. 

"Many observers believe that only about 10% of the U.S. companies that could benefit from robots have installed any so far," Burnstein says, "and among those that have the most to gain from robots are small and medium sized companies."
Founded in 1974, RIA represents some 300 companies, including leading robot manufacturers, component suppliers, system integrators, end users, research groups and consulting firms. RIA's quarterly statistics report is based on data supplied by member companies representing an estimated 90% of the North American market.

What will 2013 hold? Burnstein said RIA does not make robotics sales forecasts, but he believes that if the economy remains strong we should be looking at another good year for the robotics industry.

"The increased demand for robotics was evident at this year's Automate show in Chicago, which had record setting attendance levels," says Burnstein. "It is clear that people are excited about automation and the benefits it provides."

Source: RIA