Arnell J. Ignacio of Inductive Automation sits down with guests from Blentech, 4IR Solutions, NetApp, OnLogic, DMC, Flexware, NV Tecnologías, Streamline Innovations, Qanare Engineering, Vertech, and Automation Professionals LLC. In this podcast, Arnell and guests dive into what it is like being back in person at ICC, their challenges and accomplishments during the pandemic, what to look forward to at ICC, and the future outlook of the industry.
“It's been amazing to see the energy here at the conference and be around a group of people that feel so passionate about Ignition.” – David Berno, DMC
“I've had a couple people come and swing by and show off their projects, whip out their iPads, and like, ‘Oh, look at this,’ and a couple of 'em actually talked about using some of the things that we built last year at the Build-a-Thon.” – TJ Holt, Flexware Innovation
“I've come from a background that includes contributing to open source projects. And while Ignition is not an open source project, it feels like one sometimes because the development environment is so open and it's so easy to contribute in ways that the other platforms don't permit.” – Phil Turmel, Automation Professionals, LLC.
Joseph Dolivo, CTO
Automation Professionals, LLC.
Phil Turmel, Owner
Isabella Pitco, Software Developer & ARTIS Advisor
David Berno, Project Manager
Nicoli Liedtke, Systems Engineers
Casimir Smith, Systems Engineers
Reese Tyson, Ignition Team Lead
TJ Holt, Ignition Team Lead
Russ Sagert, Business Development Lead for Manufacturing
Esteban Núñez, Sales and Marketing Manager
Amber Cobb, Partner Alliance Manager
Rafey Shahid, VP of Engineering
Dr. Peter Photos, CTO
Chris McLaughlin, SCADA & MES Specialist
Arnell: This is Inductive Conversations with Arnell J. Ignacio. In this episode, we go live to ICC X 2022 and sit down with several attendees to capture their insights. We discuss what it is like to be back in person at ICC, what our attendees are looking forward to at ICC, what have been the challenges and accomplishments during the past two years, and what is their future outlook. We get to speak to guests from Blentech, 4IR Solutions, NetApp, OnLogic, DMC, Flexware Innovations, NV Tecnologías, Streamline Innovations, Qanare Engineering, Vertech, and Automation Professionals LLC.
Arnell: Hello and welcome to Inductive Conversations. My name is Arnell J. Ignacio, and we're here live at ICC X 2022 here at the Harris Center in Folsom, California. We're incredibly excited to be back in person, we sold out all of our tickets, and there's a lot of excitement here, there's a lot of people from all over the world wanting to network, share their ideas, and have a conversation about what's been going on since we've had our last ICC in 2019. Even though we had our ICCs virtually the last two years, having it in person is something that people have been looking forward to, and we can definitely tell it based on the energy here at the Harris Center.
Arnell: Today, I have Isabella Pitco from Blentech, she's a software developer there. Welcome.
Isabella: Hi, thanks for having me.
Arnell: From my understanding, this is your first time here at ICC?
Isabella: Yes, I'm super excited. I attended virtually last year, but obviously it's definitely more engaging to see everybody and meet everybody in person.
Arnell: Yeah. No, it's excellent. As much as possible, we wanted to have people connect remotely, but having people back in person, it's just an amazing experience. Have you been able to network with a lot of people here at ICC?
Isabella: Yeah, actually mostly with Ignition people.
Isabella: But it's been nice to meet... I have some friends on the application engineering team, and it's just interesting that it's such... Like all these big people are so easily accessible that I could ask [Inductive Automation Chief Technology Evangelist] Travis [Cox] a question on my coding if I wanted to.
Arnell: That's excellent.
Isabella: It's really nice.
Arnell: Yeah, yeah. So as we all know, the last two years have been challenging with the pandemic happening and a lot of challenges, you and the organization, have you experienced any challenges and any accomplishments during that time?
Isabella: For me, I actually joined the organization a little bit into the pandemic, so I didn't really experience the maybe initial challenges we had, but it's been pretty nice overall, being able to work with Ignition remotely, my boss doesn't even live in the same state as me, and just being able to collaborate online, even though we weren't able to be in person has been super helpful. Yeah, but it's been really nice. A lot of the customers that we are doing products for, some of them aren't even in the same area as the products that we're using, but they're still able to access remote, the programs and stuff like that. So there have been some challenges, but I think overall, it's been working out pretty well.
Arnell: So with that said, have you seen a lot more emphasis in the remote space?
Isabella: Oh yeah, I totally think it's here to stay. I don't think even a lot of our clients will ever be 100% in person ever again. There's just so much benefits to having technology where you can be anywhere in the world and just immediately log on and have information right at your fingertips. I think it helps speed things up and also just make it easier for everyone to access. It is still nice to meet in person every once in a while for collaborative things like ICC or on my own personal team to work out development problems or stuff like that, but it's probably... It's here forever, I think.
Arnell: And working at Blentech, what are some of the things that you like working out there?
Isabella: Oh, I love my job. I really like Ignition. I know that's not clearly what this is about, but it's such a fun tool to work with, we have a really good environment, collaborative space, and it's just really nice to also connect with customers and see their direct problems and help them figure out the best solution and help them analyze their data. I do a lot of work with specifically customers, like taking data that we're pulling from their machines with Ignition on our tool called ARTIS and analyzing their production and seeing how we can optimize it, maybe where problems are running up or if their machine is not functioning somehow, and I really like that aspect of working with people.
Arnell: And so have you had prior knowledge about Ignition before joining?
Isabella: No, I had no knowledge at all. In fact, I actually had to do all of the Inductive University training in order to... For my job to consider me. So it was a really cool tool to learn about. I'm from a software development background, so I understood the coding and parts of that, but Ignition just makes it way easier to just drag and drop things, and I'm working on a project right now that I could just spin up in a couple of hours, and they had predicted it took 40 hours before that, so...
Arnell: Oh, excellent, excellent.
Isabella: It's super cool. I'm having a great time.
Arnell: Well, I'm glad you had a great experience with it and I'm glad you're having a great experience at Blentech, what are you looking forward into the future?
Isabella: That's a good question. There's a lot of personal projects that we have on our roadmap. One of the biggest ones is we still have our major project in Vision, so we're trying to work on getting it over to Perspective, and I'm really excited. I'm interested in UX and UI stuff, so getting a chance to redesign everything from scratch and also making it faster, more modern and more accessible and understandable is a super exciting project for me, and we're also just trying to develop tools all of the time, so going to things like the tech panel and seeing what's coming up is super exciting.
Arnell: And so yeah, we just came out of the tech panel, and they're talking about some new UI/UX, are you excited about those...
Isabella: I am. The new gateway design looks really cool.
Isabella: There were some other tools that was like the [Tag Report Tool], where you could find out where all the tags are being used that I'm super excited for. I'm also interested, they had... They introduced the multi-stage development within the gateway, that seems like it could be interesting, but yeah, it was really fun to listen to.
Arnell: And here, your experience at ICC, what do you look forward to doing here?
Isabella: I didn't really know what to expect coming into it, but I've been really enjoying going to panels and contextualizing some things that I maybe already knew, but seeing it from a new perspective, and I've also just been enjoying connecting with people and meeting people from the Ignition team and just learning about everything. It turns out it's really fun to learn when you're not in a classroom environment to just see all the new tools and stuff.
Isabella: Play with things.
Arnell: Yeah. Isabella, thank you for joining us on this podcast. I hope you enjoy the rest of your ICC. Have a great day.
Isabella: Great, thank you so much, I appreciate it.
Arnell: I have a guest from 4IR Solutions, Joseph Dolivo, who's the CTO. Welcome, Joe.
Joseph: Thanks Arnell. Thanks for having me.
Arnell: Excellent. We haven't been in ICC for two years. It's all been virtual. How does it feel to be back in person?
Joseph: It's nice, I think I definitely feed off the energy of the folks here, and I've definitely seen even being at the registration last night, the amount of people that were here, I think people have been hungry to get back together and it's super exciting, and I think you guys did an awesome job with the virtual conference the past couple of years.
Arnell: Thank you.
Joseph: But it was really no replacing some of the in-person stuff, so yeah, we're excited to be here again. For sure.
Arnell: Excellent. Yeah, that's what I've been hearing. We did have those two virtual conferences, we just wanted to keep that momentum going, and we have a lot of networking capabilities, but it's just nothing like being back in person, so it's great to see a lot of people back and connecting and having those conversations. Of course, as you know, in the past two years, the reason why we went virtual is because we had a lot of things going on with the pandemic. What are some of the things during that time were big challenges for you and your organization and what are some of the accomplishments and triumphs during that time?
Joseph: For sure. Yeah, it was definitely a period of growth for us, so we started out as a small startup company partnering with Sepasoft, developing the Sepasoft Business Connector, the interface for SAP ERP, and that was the core of our business for some time. When the pandemic happened and we started to see a number of issues happening in the overall ecosystem, and especially things like supply chain management, we started looking at what are the things that we could do in that space that made sense and that were also aligned with the direction we wanted to move, the direction that you guys as a partner were moving, and so cloud seemed to become the answer to that, and it's also the case where we've been talking about Digital Transformation now for a number of years, and it was something that was certainly having a lot of marketing buzz around it, it was something that I feel like a lot of vendors and maybe partners were sort of pulling their customers into.
Joseph: And the big change that we saw over the past couple of years was now we had customers included in industries like life sciences who are traditionally a lot more conservative about things that were asking us for these things, all of a sudden they had an appetite to have remote access to their data, to allow their data to be in the cloud, and we saw this incredible shift in the overall positioning of that, which is super exciting for us and became a great opportunity for us to sort of pivot our focus a little bit and to try to make the best of the situation that everybody was kind of in, and it was nice to see hot-off-the-press you guys announcing the [Ignition] Cloud Edition, which very much aligns with where we've been going for the past couple of years, so that's been probably the biggest thing for us, and by the nature of being a cloud-focused company, we were already kind of remote-first, so we personally weren't hit by some of the challenges that I think companies were having as far as the workforce and all of that, but it definitely reinforced the need for Digital Transformation and trying to do more with less.
Arnell: Also, I'm glad that you were able to adapt to that situation and be able to find solutions to help throughout this time. With Ignition, how was it enabling you to be able to go into Digital Transformation? How has it helped you in that way?
Joseph: Yeah, it really is the perfect tool set for what we're trying to do, and in fact, the way that we've structured our company, it wouldn't be possible without a tool architected like Ignition. I was at the IMTS Conference last week, just kind of seeing what was going on there, talking even with other SCADA vendors, you guys are so far ahead in terms of your native support for containerization, the way that you're using web technologies to allow you to horizontally scale, to vertically scale, it's really unprecedented. The modular architecture, the fact that you can run on a little Raspberry Pi all the way up to an industrial data center, it's incredible. So even before the cloud became a critical part of people's lives, especially in manufacturing, you guys were already architected for that, and it's been great, so we really see Ignition... We've got “Powered by Ignition” logos front and center with both of our products, and that's very much the case, we're trying to augment what you guys are doing, but it's all been made possible by Ignition.
Arnell: No, and it's great to hear that feedback on what our software has been able to provide you and our customers. Looking forward, what's some of the things that you're excited about? Moving on from here.
Joseph: Yeah, definitely the Cloud Edition announcement, that's something that I know has been kept under wraps for a long time. We're very excited about what that means, doing a session tomorrow about DevOps and Git integration and hybrid cloud, all of these kind of ideas. So we've been trying to take a lot of these ideas that the software world and other industries have been doing for a long time, and trying to help propel the manufacturing industry forward, again, kind of driven by Ignition. So we're excited to see more companies that are jumping on the Digital Transformation train that are starting to adopt cloud in different parts of their business, and just seeing that growth and acceleration happening, a good thing coming out of a bad situation in the past couple of years. So we're energized by that and excited to see where it goes.
Arnell: That's good to hear. And with the Cloud Edition coming out, so there's a standard implementation, on-site implementation, we have [Ignition] Edge. So, and just briefly, what are the benefits of having a cloud installation?
Joseph: Yeah, absolutely, and right now there's a lot of companies that are having trouble getting industrial servers, for example. That's something that's really been made a bigger challenge by, let's say the supply-chain problems and the pandemic. But even then, you've got a lot of these systems that were traditionally installed on-site and nobody wants to manage them. So OT folks are trying to keep their plants up and running, you've got Windows XP boxes out there running all of this outdated software, unpatched software, companies could get away with it for a while because they were typically air-gapped networks, so these systems weren't talking to anything else, the data was in silos. Now driven by things like Digital Transformation, companies are trying to aggregate that data to do things like analytics, to do machine learning, even just simple visualizations. And so they're starting to connect these systems, and now all of a sudden, these systems that previously weren't patched or maintained are now getting connected to the Internet, and we've already seen major companies like some food and beverage companies in particular, who have been in the news where they've got Trojan horses and worms and all of these massive cybersecurity incidents, which are a huge, huge problem, so it's really been the case where now as these systems are getting connected...
Joseph: We're finding a way to help manage that, take some of the burden off these OT folks and enable them to focus on doing what they do best. And that's where the Cloud Edition helps to make that a reality.
Arnell: Here we're in person with ICC. What are you looking forward to during this conference? What's something that's gonna be top of mind for you?
Joseph: Yeah, definitely the keynotes and the technical panel tomorrow. Those are always my favorites, to attend the Build-a-Thon as well. There's a few sessions that really align well with some of the messaging that we have. [Inductive Automation Lead Software Engineer] Kevin Collins is doing a discussion on Docker containers today. There's gonna be an industry panel tomorrow that I'm gonna be attending, and then of course our session, which is gonna be talking about some of the Git and hybrid cloud and all of that. But really for me, the big thing is just getting together in person and getting to reconnect with some folks who I haven't seen in a few years. And definitely, like I said, feed off the energy and drive us through the end of the year.
Arnell: And is there anything else you'd like to add?
Joseph: Just wanted to say that super excited to be back and be partnering with you guys in a more official capacity and looking forward to finishing out the year and having a great 2023.
Arnell: Well, Joseph, thank you very much for joining us today and having this conversation. I hope you enjoy the rest of ICC and have a great day.
Joseph: Awesome. You as well. Thanks for having me.
Arnell: Joining me today is Russ Sagert from NetApp. He's the Business Development Lead for Manufacturing. Russ, thank you for joining me today.
Russ: Thanks for having me.
Arnell: So, it's my understanding this is your first time here at ICC.
Russ: Yes, it is. Yeah. The very first time in person. Some other colleagues have been here in previous live events, but this is my very first time personally.
Arnell: All right, excellent. And what do you think of it so far?
Russ: It's been a great socializing environment, business, first of all, just to get everything all back together again. It's nice to be in person to have those face-to-face conversations and, yeah, it's been really beneficial. It's a really good turnout. I'm very happy with all the different conversations we've been having. It's such a wide variety of different people we've been engaging with whether it's the end customers and all the various industries that they represent, the systems integrators, technology providers. It's quite the mix of people.
Arnell: And I think you've mentioned that NetApp in terms of what they provide is something associated with our recent release of the Ignition Cloud. Do you wanna dive into that a little bit?
Russ: Yeah, certainly. We've been around for about 30 years. We were primarily a storage provider, just industrial systems for just the storing of information. We separated our operating system from the physical storage and we made the operating system available to public cloud providers as well as different storage providers. So over the last couple of years, we've announced first-party services with AWS, with Microsoft Azure, with Google GCP, with IBM Cloud. So they all have our operating system embedded in that. So when we started taking a look at how companies like Inductive Automation were taking on-premise data repositories and making them available to cloud, we started getting interested in this kind of industrial manufacturing. In other words, if this is very large data sets going to cloud, how are they doing it?
Russ: What are the use cases? What kind of volumes of data are being used? And then we started taking a look at, well, how our operating system and our methodologies could be applied to public cloud on-premise and connecting the two together. There's been a lot of conversations about OT/IT convergence, the benefits of the industrial manufacturing, all connected with the enterprise and bringing operational information into financial, the kind of more of the corporate side of things, sharing information with vendors and partners, looking at complex supply-chain optimization. Data has to leave on-premise and it's gotta get to cloud. With our operating system and our capabilities, we have the ability to facilitate connections of that data from localized storage to cloud. And because we're available everywhere, this kind of opens up a whole new suite of use cases. And so when Inductive Automation were talking about cloud, well, it's kinda like, well, we should be part of this discussion. So that's why we've really kind of engaged more with your architects and really kind of getting more of these conversations around connecting on-premise to cloud and all the new use cases associated to that.
Arnell: And I think you touched upon this, so what are the benefits of actually bringing the data to the cloud? What benefit would an organization have from that?
Russ: I think the, every storage starts off with something really simplistic like disaster recovery, I'm just gonna make a copy some place out of my on-premise over to the cloud. I'm just gonna put it over there as a copy in case, if I ever have a problem, malware attacks or anything like that, I can just recover. That's usually the starting conversation. But I think the more digitally mature companies, the ones that have maybe more complex environments you're starting to see different workflows. In other words, if I make this data on-premise available to cloud, and I do that across all of my manufacturing production lines and facilities, I now start to look at new types of workflows. Some of it can be as simple as comparing plant A versus plant B. Well, until the data gets amalgamated together, I can't really do an intelligent comparison between one versus another.
Russ: So there's a whole new set of analytics that now start to show up around enterprise best practices. How do I identify them? But until I pull the data together, I can't really do that. The other part we get into is around problem resolution. If something is going wrong with a particular piece of equipment on-premise, the efficiencies in how fast I can make that real-time operational data available to my vendors and partners looking for spare parts, do they have the available service technicians? If I have a synchronization between my on-premise, my repository around my operational data, and I can make that copy available to my vendors and partners and I can discuss what's actually happening in my plant right now, this second, how I interact with my vendors and partners changes the whole dynamic. I can solve problems in real-time. I don't have to create a copy of my data, send it to them hours or days later, get a problem resolution. We're working on things collaboratively, and that's, again, only available if I can give them dynamic access to what's going on in my plant. Cloud enables all these new types of analytic use cases, and it just helps with overall operational efficiency. So until the data escapes the plant, I don't have the option of looking at all these new types of workflows.
Arnell: In the past two years, we've seen these issues, well, we had the pandemic, right? And so it's caused a lot of... It's illuminated a lot of things in terms of, like, our supply-chain manufacturing and all those things. During this time, has any of that affected the way NetApp has done business or has progressed up until now?
Russ: Absolutely. It's... I hate to say it, but the pandemic was a very beneficial thing to our company because it made people aware of the challenges that they really had within their supply chain. Until things go wrong, you're just kinda like... It always works like this, this is just reality, but it really forced a lot of companies to take a step back and saying, "I am having disruptions to supply, I don't really have a great awareness of what my partners are supplying or not supplying. I don't have that dynamic information." Because they didn't have a connected supply chain, they weren't looking at it from an enterprise, connected multi-user environment perspective, so they weren't really using cloud like maybe what they could have been.
Russ: What happened with the pandemic is now it's like, "Okay, people are working from home. I can't have 100 extra people on a production line, I've gotta do more sensors, I've gotta do more condition monitoring, I've got to do more things remotely." All of a sudden now everybody's scrambling is like, "Cloud cloud cloud." Cloud is the answer, I've gotta connect my supply chain, I gotta do more optimization on my production lines, everything digitalized, everything went partnerships, everything went global connectivity all at once. So we've been trying to publish these best-case use cases, we've been doing all these first-party services with all the public cloud providers, we're scrambling to try to keep up. So it's been incredibly busy for us, and then you get companies like Inductive Automation saying, "We're going to cloud. Great, we agree." It’s the best thing... Now you have to educate people on what are those best practices? How do you use this new environment because this is new for so many companies.
Arnell: Yeah, no, I can see how that can be. Speaking of that, we're here at ICC. So what are you looking forward, here at the conference, and what do you aim to do here?
Russ: Education. So again, most people have not heard of NetApp as a company because we're always kind of that technology and behind-the-scenes, so having face-to-face exposure has been fantastic, people have just been walking by, they're looking at the presentations we've got going down in the lobby and they kinda like, "I've got that problem. We're trying to do global connected supply chain. How does your company help?" So we've been talking to targeting primarily the ISVs, the systems integrators who represent multiple customers, they're the ones ultimately helping the customers through business transformations, what are you trying to achieve as a business outcome, what is the architecture to get you there? They actually do a lot of the implementation.
Russ: So by them coming in and saying, "Okay, Inductive Automation is really embracing cloud, how are we going to help our customers also embrace cloud? What are those use cases? What are they trying to accomplish, how do we do that?" I've had so many conversations since the reception to day one, and it's just been around, "This is what cloud can enable, this is how you do it. Cloud is not scary, it's not a security problem. This is how we handle security issues, this is how we handle cost, this is egress cost, this is how we do private cloud versus public cloud." And we've been having just conversation after conversation because again, a company that supplies a global lettuce supply versus somebody who's doing automotive manufacturing versus water management, the conversations have been so interesting, so diverse.
Russ: You have to come up with very specific answers to very specific technical challenges, and it's through an awareness. They're learning about cloud, they're learning about our capabilities, they're learning about Inductive Automation’s adoption of cloud, but at the same time, I'm also learning about... When is it really applicable? So I have all these different conversations, “Okay, we would use this technology in this particular circumstance, or this case, public cloud is great, or in this case, maybe you should consider private cloud,” and until you have the face-to-face conversations, we're not learning from each other.
Russ: So this whole ICC has really been... It's an education both ways, and just to try to say, "How are we going to work through this next phase of digital maturity, OT/IT conversions,” we're all in this together and it's been a wonderful environment.
Arnell: I'm really glad you're here.
Russ: Me too.
Arnell: And glad to have ICC in person, speaking of having those conversations with customers, have you ever encountered any conversations where security has been involved where people ask about how that's handled?
Russ: Yeah, very much so. In some cases, when customers have been, “My plant is my plant, nothing leaves my plant, it's air-gapped, I'm totally safe.” Well, but to really benefit from these new use cases, at some point you are gonna have to be connected, so a natural question that comes up is GDPR compliance. It's going to be around, well, if I connect my plant to the internet... Well, don't I open myself to all these security exposures? NetApp, how do you handle this? Do you have any experience in this matter, can I trust the public cloud? Can I trust your environment? So we start getting into, "Well, okay, you've never heard of us. How do I tell you about my credibility?" So we get into the fact that, "Well, we are the storage provider and security provider for most of the US military departments, for all the big aerospace companies," and it's kind of like... "I can show you their websites, I can show you that we do this service for all these big contractors, I can probably handle your lettuce operation." We can do this.
Arnell: Yeah, thank you for joining me today, Russ. I really appreciate it, thank you for sharing a lot about what NetApp does and how we're working with Inductive Automation. So thank you again, and I hope you enjoy the rest of ICC.
Russ: Absolutely, and say more to come. I'm learning a lot, and this has been a great experience, thank you.
Arnell: Well, we have a great guest here today. We have Amber Cobb, Partner Alliance Manager from OnLogic.
Arnell: Amber, thank you for joining us.
Amber: Thanks for having me.
Arnell: From my understanding this is the first time here at ICC and...
Amber: It is.
Arnell: Back in person, so what's been... Your experience been like so far?
Amber: Wow, ICC has been an amazing show, I love the sense of community that everybody has here, it's like walking into a room full of old friends who I'm just meeting for the first time.
Arnell: The past two years we've been virtual, so we haven't had an in-person ICC with the pandemic. So along those lines, what have been the challenges and accomplishments that OnLogic has experienced during those past two years?
Amber: That's a great question. For us, the last two years have been really exciting in our growth. We've almost doubled our staff in the last two years. COVID's been kind of kind to us because of the way that we do business. And also something really exciting is that we just broke ground on a new building out in Vermont, a new headquarters to kind of match our pace of growth, so we're really excited to see that. Challenge-wise, you know like everybody else, I'm not sure that we were ready to become a digital-first company in the middle of the pandemic, but we weathered that storm really well. Our tech staff has been amazing, and now we're excited just to keep going back in person and coming to great events like ICC.
Arnell: And so have you seen a lot of benefits since the two years and now?
Amber: Yeah. I mean, I'm kind of old school. I think business is done face-to-face in a room with a handshake, and so...
Amber: Just being here, getting to hear people's honest opinions of our product, hearing their customer stories, how it's being used, and uncovering a little bit more about what they'd like to see in the future, that's been the most valuable piece.
Arnell: Okay. If you don't mind me asking, some of the conversations you've had with the customers here at ICC, what are some of the... Kind of the main things that popped out to you?
Amber: Yeah, so the funny thing is, OnLogic is really big on our branding. We are really excited about what we do, and it's awesome to hear people say, "When I open the door and see that bright orange computer, I'm excited 'cause I know it's an OnLogic product." So having our brand recognized like that is fantastic. And there's a lot of buzz happening right now about our new product that was just released, the Factor 201 that features Raspberry Pi.
Arnell: Oh, excellent.
Amber: So lots of great feedback about that, and we're really looking forward to seeing how people use it in industrial applications.
Arnell: Do you find a lot of customers are requesting something like that, like the Raspberry Pi?
Amber: It's interesting because traditionally, Raspberry Pi people were using it in that [Ignition] Maker's space, how do I program it so that my chicken coop opens to let the chickens out in the morning?
Amber: But it's taken a really interesting turn recently where people are using it in the industrial space in that Maker's mindset, trying to innovate what's happening out on the factory floor or in their R&D department, and now this new product that we have is allowing them to take that Maker's mentality and put it out into an enterprise-style deployment. So we're really excited and so are the customers.
Arnell: And you're also an Onboard partner here with Inductive Automation.
Amber: Yes, we are.
Arnell: How's that been like?
Amber: You guys are amazing. We're grateful for the partnership. I think it's pretty strategic having someone that makes a fantastic bright orange reliable computer and being able to have the Ignition products on it, so it's great.
Arnell: And so being here at ICC, what are some of the goals or things that you're looking forward to doing here at the conference?
Amber: Honestly, learning. So I'm new to this whole scene and especially new to Inductive. So going to a couple of the sessions have been fantastic. Even the first one I went to today was on the [Learning Ignition] Fundamentals with [Inductive Automation Instructor] Paolo [Marini], and he's fantastic. It was amazing how engaging he was, and I felt like I walked away with some actual knowledge, so, fantastic stuff.
Arnell: That's really cool, that's cool. So looking towards... From here into the future, what are some things that you're looking forward to and that OnLogic is looking forward to?
Amber: Yeah, I mean, our team is just really excited that things are opening up again and being back out in person and getting to meet people and network, that's probably... For me, I'm a people person, I love to chat, so this is great.
Amber: But that opportunity to get back out there and meet and hear people really describe what they're using our product for and how they're using it, that's exciting, so...
Amber: Opening back up.
Arnell: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Amber: Just thank you to the Inductive team for putting on such a great show, this has been fantastic, and we can't wait to come back next year.
Arnell: Glad to have you here. Amber, thank you so much...
Amber: Thank you.
Arnell: For joining us on the podcast. I hope you enjoy the rest of ICC and... Yeah. Thank you.
Amber: Awesome. Thanks.
Arnell: Joining with me today are individuals from DMC [Inc.]. We have David Berno, who is the Project Manager, Nicoli Liedtke, Systems Engineer, and Casimir Smith, Systems Engineer. Guys, welcome.
David: Thank you.
Arnell: How are you enjoying ICC so far?
David: It's been a blast, it's been amazing to see the energy here at the conference and be around a group of people that feel so passionate about Ignition.
Arnell: And you're here because you're part of a special event that's going on later today. We have the Build-a-Thon, so you're one of the competitors, how do you feel about today's competition?
Nicoli: Feel pretty confident. We think we've made something that's a really cool product. The Build-a-Thon, we... Kind of was skimmed down from 19 Premier Integrator competitors down to just two, and now today is the day where we finally get to see who comes out on top and we're excited and we're confident.
Arnell: So you're ready for the win today, right?
Arnell: From my understanding, you guys have worked in three different time zones, is that correct?
David: Correct. Yes.
Arnell: So how's it been to collaborate with each other and then meeting up today?
David: Yeah, it's been really refreshing to be able to come together across three different time zones, three different offices and all the... All gather here in Folsom at the Inductive HQ, and put our heads together, really put the pedal to the metal for two days here to build a cool solution.
Arnell: For the past two years we've experienced the pandemic and it's changed quite a lot of things. What challenges have you experienced and what accomplishments have you gotten out of the past two years?
David: Sure, yeah. I mean, the big challenge has been lack of in-person collaboration, which is a great thing that we've been able to bring back with this conference this year, but the success is... Coming out of the pandemic is being able to collaborate across time zones. We're coming together in person today, but this doesn't feel too different than our day-to-day working together.
Casimir: I will say though that it does feel different that being in such a rush and all together here because... I mean, really, for two straight days, just collectively working, like, a hundred percent of our focus was just this Build-a-Thon, which, sometimes, isn't what work is, and sometimes, we're drawn in different directions too, but it's fun to focus on all this with you guys.
Arnell: Yeah. I can imagine that it's a balancing act, 'cause I mean, you guys have your day jobs, right? You're working on things, but then you're also working on this project. So, just briefly, how's that experience been? I know... You know, the Build-a-Thon is not just today; there has been some stuff going on prior to this, so how has that been?
David: Yeah, so the past two days were really pedal to the metal; you know, two full days of development from sunup to sundown, basically. Each day stressful, but fun and exciting, and getting to test out a few new features that we don't typically get to test out for our customers. So, really like that experience.
Arnell: At ICC in general, and if you have the chance, aside from the Build-a-Thon, is there anything else that you are looking forward to here at the conference?
Casimir: It's really just like, there's a lot of smart people that know Ignition here that are presenting some really different ideas that we... Aren't always in front of us, so really, just all of the different panels that are gonna be held. That's... It's really exciting to do, because I work with Ignition all the time, and now I kind of get to escape the DMC bubble of Ignition and really interact with the community much more than just through some of the online means.
Nicoli: We just came off that Technical Keynote, and it was really cool to see some of the things that we've been experimenting in, trying to push the envelope, and seeing kind of the roadmap for how those same features might get properly implemented and fully supported, and how Ignition is moving, kind of both we are, and Inductive as a whole is moving in a similar direction. It's really cool to see.
Arnell: Yeah, that's cool. There's a lot of cool things that was mentioned in the Technical Keynote. Are there anything that stands out to you as favorite features that they mentioned?
David: The SVG Editor is definitely gonna be... The Drawing Editor is gonna be huge. I think that'll be part of our Build-a-Thon presentation today. We could have really used that with some of the things that we did in our project today.
Arnell: Is there anything else you wanna add?
David: I mean, I guess it's just been really exciting to be here and just like feeling the energy, 'cause we were... We're a little bit segmented at Inductive HQ, in our conference room, coding really hard under the watchful eyes of [Chief Technology Architect & VP of Sales] Kevin [McClusky] and [Chief Technology Evangelist] Travis throughout that, then coming here and seeing kind of the support network and everyone's excitement for watching us compete and walking around with our suits on and...
Arnell: Yeah, you guys have great outfits.
Arnell: Ready to compete. Thank you very much, David, Casimir, Nicoli. Thank you for joining us on this podcast. We wish you luck on today's Build-a-Thon. We're really excited to see what comes out of it, and yeah, enjoy ICC.
David: Thank you.
Casimir: Thank you.
Nicoli: Thanks for having us.
Arnell: And here today with me, I have Reese Tyson and TJ Holt from Flexware Innovations. They're the Ignition Team Leads. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us.
Reese: Yeah, absolutely.
TJ: Thanks for having us.
Arnell: So we're back in person at ICC; it's been great. I know, Reese, you were here last year, but we were virtual since the competition of the Build-a-Thon. How's it been since then?
Reese: Since last year, I mean, this has been a phenomenal experience here. I mean, there's so many people here, it's just... It's electric in the atmosphere, absolutely. It's been great to see all the different people. I've had a couple people come and swing by and show off their projects, whip out their iPads, and like, "Oh, look at this," and a couple of 'em actually talked about using some of the things that we built last year at the Build-a-Thon, so it's been really cool to kinda come together and see everybody's projects.
Arnell: Yeah, it was amazing what you guys built last year, and it was fun to have you guys over at the headquarters, and we had that great virtual Build-a-Thon, so that was fantastic. As you know, in the last two years, we've experienced a pandemic, and there was a lot of things going on. So what were some of the challenges and accomplishments that you have experienced?
TJ: I think some of the challenges were getting into some of our customers' facilities. They had testing procedures and limited interaction. Sometimes, we'd go out to a site, and now we have to kinda come up with some remote solution. So I think that's one of the biggest challenges that we've experienced, but it also has helped us kinda expand our remote folks. So we have grown, I don't know, exponentially in the past year. And we have... About 50% of our team is remote. And so that's... Kinda helps us pick out the best of the group of new people coming in. We're not just isolated to one state. We just kinda go globally.
Arnell: Yeah, and so during this time, have you found anything; like, any technologies or any implementations that have been accelerated because of the pandemic?
Reese: I mean, I think that definitely, the mobile part as... You know, it's been talked about a lot here, and Ignition as a Perspective Module; it's very mobile, right? And so, that's been instrumental in visibility into remote locations or even just like what's going on at the facility. So, I know we've created a couple projects that is mobile-friendly as well as on desktop for several of our customers, and they're absolutely loving the ability to pull out their laptop at home or even just view that information at home, on their desktop, or whatever it might be, so...
Arnell: Have you found Ignition to be instrumental in making this all happen?
TJ: Without a doubt. I come from a SCADA background. Prior to using Ignition, I was using other platforms, and some of the stuff that we can do within Ignition is not even plausible in the other software packages, and there's a lot of more either work or it's just not even available, to even touch some of the things that Ignition just kind of comes pre-canned, ready to start using these objects right out of the box. And with the trial mode and some of even the components that you guys are starting to make specifically towards SCADA applications, I think a lot of more industries are starting to move towards that. Yeah, we have MES, but can we kind of marry those two and bring in some of our controls for conveyors and food and bev, and can we get the operators involved too? So I think that's really gonna start paving the way to change the industry.
Arnell: Yeah, yeah. And then this morning, we had the Technical Keynote, and they talked about some of the cool things that are coming out. We had the Ignition Cloud, we had the new Perspective drawing tools that they're coming out with. So what are your... So you're excited about that.
Reese: So we were taking notes and during the Keynote and we have Ignition, yeah we use Teams for our internal conversations or whatever, so I posted all of my notes in there and I got... Everybody hearted the message, and there's tons of chatter in there, so everybody's super excited specifically about that drawing tool, I know it's been a long time coming...
Reese: But very excited for that. Very excited to see what [Ignition] Cloud has to offer. I know that... I can see a lot of things in the machine learning, AI space because that's where all those tools are, a lot of them are hosted, it's up in the cloud, and so really excited to see where that comes into play. But yeah, you guys are always putting out great updates and exciting features and we don't know what's gonna come next.
TJ: It's kind of funny 'cause most of the software packages out there are just like, "Oh, here's one thing," and two years later they are like, "Oh, we got this new thing." And so it's kinda like a double-edged sword, we get a new project for the customer and go like, "Oh yeah, the latest is this," and then three months later, Inductive comes out like, "Hey, we have this really great tool, it's this next version." "Hey customer, can we upgrade you?" and they're like, "What for?" I'm like, "It's just, it's good. It's better for you." But it's really for us...
TJ: The developer tool that the auto-completion is huge, it's gonna cut down on dev time and now you got this drawing tool for SVG, it's kind of like adding the pipe tool.
TJ: We... In our first SCADA, we had to manually draw them with labels and change them to black to make them look like pipes in Perspective, and then we were like, "Oh hey, we got this pipe drawing tool," "Oh man this is so great." And now we have this drawing tool that's gonna come to 8.3, this is gonna be a game changer, it's kinda, again, focus more on SCADA side of things that Perspective can bring.
Arnell: What are you looking forward to in the future? What do you see as something exciting coming along?
Reese: The cloud stuff with machine learning and AI is very exciting for me, I know we have a couple of folks on our team that are, again, pretty heavy into that recently, and this cloud mention and it just... It gets them going for sure.
Reese: But yeah, I think that there are gonna be a lot of... A lot of our customers, they have all this data, Ignition’s provided that data. And now what can we do with that? I know Digital Transformation and bringing all that stuff together, but what's after that? You have all this data, let’s do something with it. And so a lot of our customers are starting to get to that point, and so I love the digital... I know digital twin means completely different things to completely different people, but that's the kind of stuff that I'm excited for with augmented reality and simulation of what happens if we turn this conveyor off or that conveyor off, and even things like with HoloLens and walking through a factory and seeing, "OEE numbers," on the different machines, stuff like that, that gets me really excited to know that those possibilities are out there, and now we have the data to do those kind of exciting things...
Reese: That's what gets me excited.
Arnell: No, it's exciting that there's a lot of possibilities coming down the pipeline, and just being able to come up with solutions that would further the efficiency and what you can do on the plant floor or wherever, yeah.
Arnell: Here at ICC, what has it been like? What were you... What have you been looking forward to here, at being in person?
TJ: It's getting to meet the community is really nice, seeing what other people are doing, kinda just bouncing ideas and getting to learn some of the partnerships that you guys have with some of the vendors, getting to know Canary [Labs] and Cirrus [Link] and kinda talking to them like, "Hey, this is what we're doing, and like, maybe you can help us with some solution," and just kinda partner with them and kind of build the platform that we have. And the connectability to people is huge I think.
Reese: Yeah, definitely a big part of it, obviously, when you get a ton of people together that nerd out on the same stuff...
Reese: It's always a good time...
Arnell: Definitely, definitely.
Reese: Totally a nerd answer, but it's true. Like I was saying earlier, I've had a couple of people come up and be like, "Oh hey, here's my project,” and kinda walking through the solution, and it was really cool stuff. In addition, we have a Twitch stream that we've started to put together as well, the last Thursday of every month. Shameless plug...
Reese: But yeah, even then, we've only been doing it for a couple of months, but I had several people come up to me and be like, "Oh, it has great content, you guys keep putting that out," so it's just bringing everybody together with like mind and being able to share thoughts and ideas and collaborate. It's been awesome, and of course, super excited for the Build-a-Thon.
Arnell: Yeah, yeah. It's always a scene.
Reese: Let's see what these guys have to say about it, so.
Arnell: Yeah. It's... We're always trying to find ways to make it more exciting, and it's great that you guys are having that conversation with individuals, that's why we're so excited to have ICC in person, just to make those connections and be able to see people and be able to share ideas and projects, it's been beneficial for everyone all around, so it's excellent. Well, Reese, TJ, thank you for joining us today on this podcast. We really appreciate you being here. Enjoy the rest of ICC and thank you very much.
TJ: Alright, thanks Arnell.
Reese: Thank you.
Arnell: We're excited to have Esteban Núñez from NV Tecnologías, one of our distributors here with Inductive Automation. Esteban, welcome.
Esteban: Thank you for having me.
Arnell: We haven't had an ICC in person in the last two years, and now we're back in person. How do you feel about that?
Esteban: Well, it's an excitement. It's... ICC has always been like this big event where the important part is how you... The experience you have with Ignition and how you share it with others, I was just talking about it with some of your peers and some other integrators about... And distributors, that it's always the honest feedback that a lot of people that uses Ignition gives, and here at the ICC you feel it, yeah. You get a sense of it directly from the person...
Arnell: Yeah, definitely. And it's different, we've had ICC in person, or not in person, ICC virtually the last two years, and we've had a lot of ways to connect with other people, but there's nothing that can ever replace an in-person. So in terms of what you're doing, what are some of the things in the last two years, we've had a lot of things going on. What are some of the challenges and what are some of the accomplishments or triumphs that you've seen in that time...
Esteban: Well. I've seen that more and more end users are looking for new ways to collect data and uniform it, make it in a simple format for them to share or have this big platform that Ignition provides. That's a big challenge that before all the pandemic and everything, it was just SCADA systems, isolated systems here and there, and now Ignition is solving that...
Esteban: But yeah, I think one of the challenge for us is doing some brand awareness because we are in a different region, but we are getting into that point where Ignition is known, it's tried, it's tested, so everybody's liking it. It's a good vibe right at this moment.
Arnell: Because of what happened, have you seen more interest in that, in that whole remote, in that type of... The control that Ignition's able to provide?
Esteban: Yeah. Yeah. We've seen a lot of that, specifically architectures where you have this I/O, local I/O, your Ignition gateway, like your plant floor gateway, and then you have your cloud gateway with Perspective for management, for C-suite people or owners. So that's really cool because, maybe some folks already had Vision and they take advantage of that. And they also use Perspective for mobiles and remote connectivity. And VPNs is always a conversation as well. Like, "How do I connect remotely to technician? Is it easy? Is it web-based?" So with that, we always have good answers. Like, "Yes, it is."
Arnell: Yeah, it's good to say yes to a lot of the requests. So when Perspective came out, have you found that it's been adopted quite readily by customers?
Esteban: Yeah. Well, in our region Ignition is fairly new for Central America and Mexico, say, so it's fairly new. So Vision, it has its installations, but for all the new folks, Perspective is like the way to go right now, because they prefer it because it's more comfortable, because they already have Workstation, they have mobiles, they have web browser. So everything is set and they are liking it really good.
Arnell: And so within your region, in general there's a lot of talk of Digital Transformation. And so is that something that is a big part of the strategy in what you're seeing?
Esteban: Yeah, I think it's a differentiator. I would say that us, as a distributor, we wanna be differentiated because, not to talk bad about others, but sometimes distributors will come from a background of electrical engineering, and that's really good because they have really good focus on that. But then when you get to programming, when you get to databases, when you get to cloud injection, to... You get to digital things, to Digital Transformation stuff, they are not really well versed. So what we're trying to do as a company and with Ignition on our plate, is to try to deliver this really core ecosystem of stuff. And we also carry Opto 22, for example.
Esteban: So what we try to do is give you this ecosystem, perfect ecosystem for Digital Transformation.
Arnell: And when you're working with projects, do you find that Ignition's helping you make that happen? As you were saying, some of the distributors have that electrical engineering background, but the programming part is important. So do you find that Ignition is giving you that edge to make those projects come to life?
Esteban: Yes. Yes. Totally. For sure. I think Ignition is a big differentiator, and right now for us, it's our foot into the door of the end users, end users’ plant. It used to be hardware for us, but right now, Ignition is the one that gets us in, and it's a differentiator for us, and it's helping us a lot to deliver to the customer. So happy customers, happy referrals. It's going good.
Arnell: And so as we look forward, what are some of the things that you're excited about, looking forward?
Esteban: Oh, yeah. So I look forward to, as I said, there's a lot of people requesting for Digital Transformation stuff or cloud architectures or something like that, data collection. So I'm looking forward to not only see that data collection, which is like the first step, but then perfecting that data and using dashboards, using KPIs at the plant that maybe they didn't had or they had in a spreadsheet or in a table, or in a whiteboard, right? So that's what I'm hoping for, to see those clients overdeliver to their users, to their internal users. That Digital Transformation to be real.
Arnell: And then now here at ICC, what are you looking forward to? What are some of the things that you're excited about being back in person?
Esteban: Well, as I said, the feedback from everyone. I think there's a lot of good stories with integrators within the conversations that you have in the hallway, on that. And I'm looking forward to see what's doing in the industry, what the industry is... How it's using Ignition to deliver the Digital Transformation they want.
Arnell: And then is there anything you want to add?
Esteban: Yeah, I think Inductive Automation is doing a great job as a company. It has a noble product, it has a great service, and it's helping us, as I said, we manage a lot of the expectations of the customer, but we are always overdelivering what they were hoping for. It's always better. So that's a great thing. It's a great product, great service company. We're having a good fun with you guys.
Arnell: Well, I'm glad that Ignition's able to provide that capability of being able to overdeliver. Customers are looking for things, and when you provide those solutions, it opens up more and more opportunities.
Arnell: So I'm really glad that it's working well. Thank you for joining us today, and I hope you enjoy the rest of ICC.
Esteban: Thank you. Thank you for having me. And you too.
Arnell: All right. Thank you. Today joining with me is Dr. Peter Photos, a CTO of Streamline Innovation. Pete, thank you for joining us today.
Peter: Thanks for having me.
Arnell: How's it been going so far?
Peter: It's been a great... It's a great conference. I'm having a lot of fun meeting some great people, interacting and learning a lot about Ignition and some new ways we can take it to the next level.
Arnell: As you know, in the last two years we've experienced the pandemic. We had to go virtual for that, but we're back in person this year. So in those past two years, what are some of the challenges and accomplishments that has happened?
Peter: So I think we've learned that, number one, we've all had to learn to work from home, which has been a great challenge, but also a great opportunity to really appreciate remote connectivity. And working with operations in the field and working with devices across our entire fleet, we've learned that we can do a lot remotely, and remote connectivity is the way of the future, and it's been so dependent for us to do that.
Arnell: And do you think because of what happened, this remote connectivity has been accelerated, the technology surrounding it?
Peter: Absolutely, and now it's all about, how much can we do without going to a site or without going to a location? How much can we do separately? What do we need to put infrastructure-wise to make those things work?
Arnell: And in 2019, you were here as well, and you were a Firebrand Award winner, which is excellent. So since then, how has it been in terms of your projects?
Peter: It's been incredible for Streamline. At the time, we had three units operating and one large unit, and today we have about 27 units across Texas, New Mexico, California, and Illinois. We have moved into running not just oil and gas, but in landfill operations in Chicago, and we have really just exploded in terms of our ability to operate our units more efficiently, more effectively, and it's been great.
Arnell: So yeah, I wanna dive deeper into that. You're mentioning new projects. What are... Something exciting that's been happening recently?
Peter: So we are actually moving into renewable natural gas. So renewable natural gas is poop to power. We take manure from farms and they digest it and it creates methane, but the challenge is it also creates carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. So Streamline's technology is removing hydrogen sulfide, and so we've been able to develop technology that can remove that H2S from that digested poop as it becomes natural gas. The challenge, of course, is size. Only... You need 2,000 cows to make a well equivalent to one gas well, so you need to make everything small but efficient and cheap, and the only way to do that is through automation and technology, and we've been leveraging as much technology as we can to do that.
Arnell: And speaking of technology, we make Ignition, so how has that software been for you?
Peter: Ignition has been integral into our development of this because we need to have refinery-level control, we need to be able to have full visibility into our units, and we need full remote operational capabilities, and Ignition has been instrumental into letting us do that, but it also has allowed us to take that data, not just from the instrument to the operator, but from the operator to the control room, up to the chief engineer who can look at swaths of data and make group decisions about multiple units, up to the operations manager level who can make decisions about the profitability of each unit, all the way up to the company level where the CEO can actually see data originating in the field on his desk that gives him a P&L of the company.
Arnell: And so today we were in the Technical Keynote, and there was a lot of things announced during that time. Is there anything that pops out to you as exciting, or?
Peter: To me, the most exciting thing coming up is containerization. Containerization is really where we're focusing a lot of our efforts and development at Streamline, and I think it's gonna be super powerful because it will allow new components of Ignition to be developed in an environment, in a development environment and then moved up to production quite easily, and that's what's gonna make things so exciting for us.
Arnell: And then on that same line, is there anything exciting that you are looking forward into the future?
Peter: I'm looking forward to post-COVID world where we can all get back together and have a really great time, and I'm also looking forward to a successful and happy next year.
Arnell: And is there anything that you're looking forward to here at ICC?
Peter: At ICC? I'm looking forward to some more great talks and some more great technology of what people are doing with Ignition.
Arnell: Well Pete, thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you had a great time in ICC and enjoy the rest of the time here, and thank you for joining us.
Peter: Thank you for having me.
Arnell: Here with me today is Rafey Shahid from Qanare Engineering. He's the VP of Engineering. How are you doing?
Rafey: Good, how are you?
Arnell: I'm doing well.
Rafey: Thank you so much for inviting me over.
Arnell: Yeah, well thank you for being here. You've been to as many of the ICCs that has happened. I think you've only missed one.
Rafey: I've missed one.
Arnell: So how is it like being back in person?
Rafey: Oh, it's absolutely lovely coming back. It seems like a family/friends reunion. As they said in the Keynote, a lot has changed, but a lot has remained the same. We picked up our conversations where we had left them off last time. The relationships have, I think, become stronger because we've come to value the in-person experience much more. So yeah, it's been fun. We've talked about each of those families too. The kids have grown up, where people are about to have their grandchildren and now the grandchildren have grown up, so those stories have been exchanged over dinner at the headquarters.
Rafey: It's been really nice.
Arnell: That's awesome, that's awesome. So as [Inductive Automation CEO] Colby [Clegg] has mentioned, “Everything has changed, but nothing has changed.” Do you have that same sentiment?
Rafey: Well, a lot has changed. The relationships have, I think... We've come to add more value to the relationships we've developed here over the years between integrators. That's been a core of our business, and then that is the core of the learning experience too. My dad, I consider him a... He's taught me a lot about business, and one of the things that he's always taught me about there is the education you achieve in class, there is the education you achieve in an environment. So here is the education, obviously that you go through in the lectures and the classes, but the experiences that you get and the conversations you get to have over tables, at dinner tables about the problems we're facing, because we're in a different market where some integrators are in a different market, the distributors are in a different market, but those conversations, those experiences when you exchange the problems that you have and the solutions that sometimes somebody living and working in a different marketplace in a different part of the world can offer and you're like, "Oh wow, why didn't I think of that?" Those are the things that you cannot achieve virtually.
Rafey: So that is the biggest learning point that I've come to value significantly while here.
Arnell: That's awesome. Well, I'm glad that we were able to get ICC back in person. As we're all aware, in the last two years we experienced the pandemic. And so what have been the challenges and the accomplishments that you've seen come out from this time?
Rafey: Well, the biggest advantage that we've seen as a company, there was, before the pandemic, hesitation about having remote workforces and having remote partners. That has completely flipped on its head. The clients here, the system integrators here are much more open to partner with us now than they were a couple of years... Or before the pandemic, because now they've seen their own workforce go work from home or work remotely significantly, so partnering with us has become easier as a process or as a result of the pandemic.
Arnell: Yeah, excellent. Yeah, so yeah, it's definitely accelerated a lot of things. People were on the fence about a lot of stuff, and now we're seeing a lot of adoption of different technologies, and yesterday Carl mentioned the introduction of the Ignition Cloud, and then today at the Technical Keynote we have more features coming out, we're skipping a version, we're focusing heavily on making sure everything is stable. So what are your thoughts about that? What are your thoughts about these announcements?
Rafey: Well, we've been experimenting and do run an Ignition server on the cloud. I'm looking forward to discovering more on how that's set up in the Azure environment and the AWS environment. I was hoping for some kind of feature to come through. I didn't know that this was coming through, so it is nice to know that this was possible, and I think it would make the process of the system... Or the job of the system integrator easier and faster. So when you have a company that's either already using Azure or AWS, for them to spin up Ignition in the Cloud is a much more easier process, so the buy-in hopefully would be easier, at least that's my hope. Let's see what the market has to say.
Arnell: Yeah, it'll be interesting to see where that goes, yeah. What are you looking forward to in the future? What's something that you are excited about?
Rafey: Well, I would love to see... There's been exceptional growth for Ignition in obviously the North America and South America market, Europe, and Australia. Now, the region that I'm in is a happening place both in terms of obviously political issues, but also in terms of technology. There is going to be significant growth in the Middle East and North Africa region, and I see in the Southeast Asia region. I think those would be... I think Ignition has focused mostly in the low-hanging fruit which has been these markets, but the next growth market I think would be those regions where Inductive I think would grow and has grown to a certain extent, but would grow even further. I see that growth happening in the next couple of years, definitely, much more adoption of Ignition in that region.
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. So here at ICC, what have you been looking forward to and what has it been like?
Rafey: Connecting with friends. For me, it's always about connecting, reconnecting with friends, the stories of the experiences they've had over the past couple of years, and how that's... And the lessons learned. Obviously, there are projects that go good and obviously those end up in the... And then there's projects that go bad, and then the lessons learned. Those are not advertised, obviously, but those are discussed, and we take those lessons learned back with us, that okay, this is what you do, this is what you don't do, this is how you handle certain political issues within the organization.
Rafey: So there's a technology aspect to business, and then there's a political aspect, and there's a financial aspect. The political aspect cannot be discussed in some spaces, and that can only be discussed in private conversations sometimes, and that's... I think that's the most valuable aspect of what I take back generally every year, is that those tabletop conversations.
Rafey: Or the dinner table conversations.
Arnell: Excellent, yeah. No, that's important, and I'm glad that you mentioned that. Yeah. So there's a lot of things when we put out content and webinars and all these other resources, we focus a lot on the technology and all the implementation, the adoptions and... But yeah, there's this other piece, as you mentioned, the political, the people, the financial. There's all these different pieces and it's important to have those conversations. So I'm glad that those conversations are being had and that we're getting a lot out of it, so yeah, that's excellent. Well, Rafey, thank you so much for joining us in this podcast. We appreciate you being here, and we're glad that you're here at ICC. It's great to have you back here with everyone else as well, so yeah, thank you.
Rafey: Thank you so much for inviting me over, I really appreciate it.
Arnell: Enjoy the rest of ICC.
Arnell: We're here today to talk to Chris McLaughlin from Vertech. He is the SCADA and MES Specialist there, and welcome.
Chris: I'm glad to be here, and so glad to be back at ICC live.
Arnell: I know, it's great to have everyone back. For the past two years, we went virtual, but you were actually at the office for our Build-a-Thon [in 2021], and you guys won that competition. How do you feel about that?
Chris: It was great. So yeah, we had our own private ICC with us and Flexware and Inductive, and so we got all the attention at that moment. So you wanted Carl, Colby, Steve? No problem, because we were the only people there. And then, yes, winning the Build-a-Thon was awesome, and just the friendships that came out of that with Flexware have also been really nice. We still talk with them at least once a month, just talking about business and Ignition and life.
Arnell: Yeah, you guys had a great competition, you guys built really great applications for that Build-a-Thon, so yeah, it was exciting to watch. So yeah, as we talked about, the last two ICCs were virtual. So during this time, what were some of the struggles or obstacles and some of the accomplishments that you and your organization have experienced in those years?
Chris: Yeah, so the struggle was true with any of this, of you want to be in person, you want to have connections with people, and it just wasn't the same. So obviously, we enjoyed that there was at least a virtual conference, that we could put up sessions and that we could have a dialogue with people. And you guys did a great job of running some virtual conferences, like they...
Arnell: Thank you.
Chris: They were top-notch in terms of that, but nothing replaces an in-person conversation. There's dozens upon dozens of people that I've gotten to talk with just today, and you run into these people that you wouldn't for any other reason in life, and so we really appreciate being here. The things that have happened, projects still went on, our offices, we ended up gaining 15 other states where we have people...
Arnell: Oh, excellent.
Chris: In them now over COVID, so we had already had remote workers, but now we have a strong presence all throughout the country, and the projects just kept on ramping up more and more. Last year was a record year for the number of projects that we did, and this year we've done that many by August, and it just keeps on growing and happening, and there's... As you could tell, there are some great applications with Ignition that are coming up as powerful software.
Arnell: Yeah, and you're on the Firebrand Award again this year, right?
Chris: Yes. So that is an honor. We are always striving for that. I gotta admit that we secretly are like, "Okay, which job this year needs to be amazing, because we have to have something to submit?" And then it's always that question mark of, is it worthy, is it a good enough project? And so, once again, we are honored and very thankful that... It was a project for SB Energy, an enterprise SCADA system, and that that was recognized, it means a lot to us.
Arnell: Yeah, no, that's excellent. And clearly, you have a command of Ignition to build out these amazing projects. So how has that software been for you? What has it given you that other platforms probably aren't able to achieve?
Chris: So it became everything. So in 2010 is when I found it and started using it, and we were talking that... We came to the initial ICC Conference in 2013 and have been every single year since, and as a result, part of Vertech’s strategy is every new person that comes into the company is trained on it through Inductive University, and because it's free and accessible, we are able to do that with everybody. And as a result, we like this software, we prefer the use of it, and so when everybody gets trained in it and we wanna use it all the time, just naturally, that becomes the main product that you ever use, but then what's nice is everybody is transferable, that they can go from one project to another, they can go from one customer to another because you're trained on the software that is used across everybody. And so for us, it has been a company mantra, a company procedure that... It just... It simplified life.
Arnell: That's excellent. I'm glad that you mentioned about the Inductive University and all the free courses, and just the possibility that anyone can go and take those courses for free and be able to get up to speed with Ignition and build with it, and that's what we strive for in providing the resources to our customers. In the future, what are you looking forward to?
Chris: What are we looking forward to? So, the trends that we see is… Far more enterprise projects, that's already been on the ramp-up over the last three years. And so I'm gonna give our secret of we just follow Inductive on whatever they do, that is what we get into. And so you noticed [Inductive Automation CTO] Carl [Gould] and Colby years ago, starting of everything is enterprise, everything is gonna go that way, Gateway Area Network, bringing in all the edge so that it'd all roll up to the enterprise, and so we followed suit, and so a lot of projects went that way. MES has also been ramping up for us for the last six to eight years, but it continues strong, and we notice that we are getting more enterprise projects and more full suite MES applications for larger name companies, just as Inductive has been experiencing of you see the Fortune 100 and they, thankfully, are willing to trust us and they want Ignition as their software, and so that is what we're seeing and what we're excited about.
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. And you were speaking how the path that Inductive Automation is going, and so Carl mentioned this morning, the introduction of Ignition Cloud. So what are your thoughts about that?
Chris: Interested, but not sure how it will end up working out. So personally for us, big Cloud users, so Azure or AWS, yes, but most of the time we're using EC2 instances or running it natively on a Linux box, like on a Lightsail, but to have a pure services software-as-a-service, and I know he doesn't even want me to say that. He doesn't wanna call it a SaaS. So having basically that ability to purchase it within the environment, I don't know, maybe. It's so fresh that I don't know what the architecture or the client would be that would need that necessarily yet.
Chris: But I'm sure that once we've had a chance to digest it, that maybe we'll be like, "Oh yeah, that's why they did this." That's what it means to us with our clients. Too fresh to say.
Arnell: Okay, fair, fair. So we're now back in person. What are you looking forward to at ICC this year?
Chris: Already getting it. So just those live conversations and the ability to run into Carl in the hallway and talk to him about a bunch of stuff, or somebody that you haven't seen in 10 years and figuring out what they're doing, or the people that... Man, I can't tell you how many clients, I had at least six clients that turn around to me like, "Chris." I'm like, "Do I know you?” And then they're like, "Oh, I'm so and so from this company." I'm like, "That's it. That's where I know you 'cause I can't distinguish well if like, okay, were you a face from a few years ago? Or did I see you on a Teams meeting?" And so to meet these clients in person for the first time has been really, really nice.
Arnell: Excellent. Excellent. Well, yeah, we're really excited to bring ICC back in person and it's great to see everyone making connections, new ones and old ones. Chris, thank you so much for joining us on this podcast. Appreciate your input and we hope you enjoy the rest of ICC.
Chris: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Arnell: And today joining with me is Phil Turmel, the owner of Automation Professionals LLC. Phil, thank you for joining us today.
Phil: You're more than welcome. Glad to be here.
Arnell: So how has your experience been so far today at ICC?
Phil: I've been enjoying it thoroughly.
Arnell: Excellent. And as you know, in the last two years we've experienced the pandemic and so there's been a lot of things that have been going on. So are there any challenges and accomplishments that have come out of that time?
Phil: So the big thing, and this was mentioned in the keynotes, is that everyone has gotten more accustomed to working remotely. And that's actually been a big win for my business because it means that I can handle more customers from my office as opposed to traveling. And as a solo proprietor, travel is always trouble. So less travel, more time to work on projects, able to keep customers happier.
Arnell: And have you found that during this time, technologies involved in remote, has that been accelerated because of things of what happened in this time period?
Phil: Oh, yes. And the fact that companies like Inductive have gone whole hog into remote work is just laying the foundation for other entities to accept more of that as well. So to be honest, it's a blessing in disguise. So COVID has been trouble, but it's also been good. It was great to see people that you can really talk to again though.
Arnell: Yes. Is this your first ICC? I don't imagine this, right? You've...
Phil: No, I was an early adopter. I was at the first one. I've missed a couple for business reasons, and of course we missed the last two because of the COVID, but I've otherwise been here.
Arnell: Excellent. And this year you won the Firebrand Award for the first community involvement. And how does that feel for you?
Phil: It's wonderful. It's something I would do anyways, and the fact that this was created for this year is quite the honor. But I've come from a background that includes contributing to open source projects. And while Ignition is not an open source project, it feels like one sometimes because the development environment is so open and it's so easy to contribute in ways that the other platforms don't permit. So I've always felt at home here and contributing on the forum just feels natural.
Arnell: Well, we welcome your comments and your feedback and so it sounds like Ignition has been an important tool for you.
Phil: Oh, yes.
Arnell: So what has been the benefit of Ignition for you?
Phil: Obviously exposure at ICC is a great marketing tool and part of the reason why I'm here, but Ignition to a large extent, sells itself. And they mentioned in the Keynote their philosophies and their business practices and their ethical model and the fact that they are driven to serve customers in ways the other vendors don't. The licensing model is just the highlight of that particular situation that draws interest all over the market. And once they see and now really see how durable the company is, all the barriers to adopting Ignition keep falling all over the place and participating in the environment and participating in the conference and participating in the forum all ties together as a welcoming environment for anyone who wants to use this technology. And since automation is the future of manufacturing, participating in the most vibrant platform out there is a no-brainer. So it's good for me, good for my business, and it's good for people like me to participate and contribute. It just comes back around.
Arnell: Yeah. And you've mentioned the future, so what are some things that you're excited about when you look towards the outlook of the future?
Phil: So they announced today that they're skipping version 8.2 which is a really big deal for me because I advise my clients on how to go through upgrades and how to target supportable platforms. And to be perfectly honest, I never much cared for development versions versus long-term support versions. Now, ditching the development version in between 8.1 and 8.3 is a really big win as far as I'm concerned for my customers. They'll be able to go from 8.1 to 8.3 when the time is right without worrying about any long-term support. That's just huge.
Arnell: Yeah, I know. I think I can understand that. So that's great that we're doing that and it's great that you're benefiting from it you're using Ignition to its fullest. So we really appreciate you being here, and thank you for joining us on this podcast. It's been fantastic having you. And again, congratulations on the Firebrand Award. Enjoy the rest of the ICC event and thank you again.
Phil: I will. Thanks for having me.
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