This special episode is the audio from a previously recorded onstage presentation by Soracom CTO, Kenta Yasukawa given at the IoT in Oil and Gas event hosted by the Energy Conference Network in Houston, Texas. Kenta's presentation shares a number of insightful takeaways as a connectivity technology company asked to solve unique challenges for three different companies in the oil and gas industry leveraging cloud-native cellular connectivity.
For the sake of transparency, I feel it's important to disclose that I'm employed by Soracom and Kenta is a founder. He talks a lot about Soracom in this presentation, how he started the company, and he gets into the weeds with the technology. This is not intended to be a sales pitch, but since it breaks with the typical interview format, it feels right to call this out.
What you’re going to hear is a passionate technologist that has built something he’s proud of and has some really amazing results by taking a radically different approach to telephony, cellular, mixed-connectivity networks, and applying modern cloud technologies to address the challenges oil and gas companies face with data security, private networking and supporting remote devices in remote locations.
Welcome to a special episode of conversations and conductivity. I'm Ryan Carlson, your host. This is a podcast for the IOT professionals and product leaders responsible for building growing, executing, and at times educating others about the role that conductivity operations plays within their organizations. Now you may not have the job title, but you have the emotional scars to prove that you've been doing the job anyways. If learning how others are harnessing connectivity in the industries Your in luck. This special episode is the audio from a previously recorded onstage presentation by Soracom CTO, Kenda. Yasukawa given at the IOT and oil and gas event hosted by the energy conference network in Houston, Texas. This is also the same event where David Armstrong. And I talked about the digitization of workforce knowledge in episode one of this podcast. Ken does presentation shares a number of insightful takeaways from working with three different companies in the oil and gas industry to leverage cloud native connectivity across three different use cases to solve rather unique challenges Uh, smart gas meter and autonomous industrial robot, and a bunch of operators monitoring gas plants across the globe, walk into a bar and okay. It's actually a crap joke, I'll just skip the punchline and get to a little bit of background on Kenta. So he's got a PhD in engineering, conducted research for connect to homes and cars at Ericsson research and got heavily into cloud architecture is one of the original solutions architects within AWS Japan. Kenta is one of the founders of Soracom who as of this recording just announced that their cloud native cellular network is supporting 5 million iot devices around the globe for over 20,000 companies. Now for the sake of transparency, I feel it's important disclose that I'm employed by Soracom. And Kenta being a founder will have some implicit bias. He's going to talk a lot about soar, calm in this presentation, how he started the company and we'll get into the weeds a bit on the technology. But this isn't a sales pitch. What you're going to hear is a passionate technologist that has built something that he's proud of and has some really amazing results by taking a radically different approach to telephony cellular mixed connectivity networks and applying modern cloud technologies to address the challenges that oil and gas companies face with data security. Private networking and supporting remote devices in remote locations. Whereas this is a sales pitch. This recording is brought to you by store com a global connectivity service provider that believes the fastest way to cost savings and scale is when customers are in full control of their conduct, devotee operations experience, self-serve pay as you go global conductivity without a contract today at Soracom.io signing up for an operator account takes less than a minute. And if you happen to be clicking on the contact us form, it'll ask you, where did you hear about Soracom? And if you heard about it here on the podcast, please put in podcast. Maybe even put the episode name in it. We'd love that. Now on to Kenta's presentation.Kenta:
I'm Kenta Yasukawa I'm CTO and co-founder of the company SORACOM we are offering smart connectivity platform as a service to be able to accelerate your time to market whenever IOT or connected device project you guys have I would like to introduce some the customer case studies that we worked with then we'd like to share some lessons we learned by working with them those customer So I'd like to introduce myself a little bit as already mentioned I started my career as a researcher at Erickson So I worked for connected home connected car type projects and the connected sensors and actually in the field so that they can be integrated with cloud That was what I started back in 2008 or so and then I realized that every time I build a system always I'm kind drawing a fluffy cloud in the middle of the architecture diagram saying once devices are connected to the cloud they become intelligent And you can we can achieve anything that we want. That was a demo I was building and presenting but I was not sure sure What the cloud offers to us I was not exploiting the cloud at all at that point So I decided to join Amazon web services as a solutions architect so that I can know more about cloud And if what I was presenting was true or not and I worked with various customers and supported to build the cloud architecture based by using AWS cloud And I realized that it's not a magic you know you have to write a code you have to work build architecture to be able to do what you want to achieve. But certainly we I realized that cloud can make any system better You can actually actually achieve the highly scalable reliable infrastructure by using cloud technologies That's what I learned and realized So I decided to and one day one night actually I started to think Hey I used to work for telecom and I built the connected systems by using the telecom infrastructure And now I know cloud. So why don't we Create a cloud native telecom platform that can connect everything and everyone that way we can actually achieve highly connected world and support the oil and gas any to be more connected That's a that was a a, well I didn't mention the oil and gas at that point to be honest but that was the conversation I had with my co-founder Ken Uh when I was having a beer with him. So we decided to start our company SORACOM so that connect more devices and world That's a uh uh that's my story what we do is we provide smart connectivity platform as a service based on the cloud cellular architecture We. as I said I used to work for telecom Ericson and telecom industry my co-founder Ken and Dan Ken used to work fors cloud as well And then he used to work for NTT Dokomo so we joined forces together from the telecom and cloud and built our platform We started back in 2015 So we are still a young company but we have already connected more than 4 million connect devices in the world We have customers in all over the world and our teams members are based in Tokyo London and uh Seattle and everywhere in the us And that's who we are We currently serving more than 20,000 customers worldwide Cause our platform is The commitment the sales service based platform It's like a just like a AWS Google Microsoft cloud services You can just open up our account and you can order Connect single cars or devices and you can start building your system on top So you don't have to do any commitment or any contract work You can just talk open up account and start building systems because of that we have wide variety of customers in many small and medium sized businesses to enterprise customers such a wide portfolio customers in our platform. So how we serve the oil and gas industry as you may have already guessed based on what I said we connect the cloud services and the connected devices that you will you have in the field And we become we sit in the middle and connect these two so that you can actually focus on and systems that you are going to build So we have multiple connectivity options Cell is one of them We have supported 3g 4g 5g networks we also supported LP one technologies such as single parks We also started to integrate satellite connectivity as well and we have our own cloud services as well We have data region visualization and all that but of course you can choose the your pre cloud service as well We are cloud and diagnos Smart connectivity provider We have also worked with device partners and system integrators So they if you have your own device we can also connect that those to the back Can we also have provided devices through our partner network so that we can cover various use cases. So once a story that I would like to share is the Nichigas They are a company in Japan has offered an energy the gas service to offices and the areas Another story I'd like to share is this company IHI they have they are they have gas plants everywhere in the world and they need to monitor those facilities from a control center So what they have been doing is they use our connectivity to securely connect their control center to their remote gas plan that's what they are doing Another example I wanna share is the midst this heavy in they invent this robot smart robot that can actually enormous uh move in the oil and gas oil or gas plants And it Take the video image and analyze it and send back to their cloud environment So it is on not almost robot so it can actually just move around by itself Or when you when an operator or administrator needs to remotely access they can also do it by using the smart connectivity that we provide of course as we as discussed in the next room cybersecurity is highly important for these use cases They connection That's what we provided for them They can actually connect these robots from their cloud environment securely anytime they need So those are the custom case studies that I wanted to share and I will go deeper as we Talk more about them about what we do But if I go back to why did we start our company and why are we here this conference to share what we have built The reason is is there are so many common issues common challenges system I think you guys all are aware of these Connectivity definitely one the main topic discussing this session but it's one of them One of the challenges when it comes to building cloud backed connected of course you need to think about security That's a top concern when it comes to building connected system. Cloud integration is another thing there ums has built cloud-based services for Microsoft has an Azure OT as well Google they built but they are now going to terminate the service but certainly they have built one as well So they the there are different options that the developers need to think of And certainly work on to connect those cloud services from the connected devices And once devices are in the field way to manage them remotely managing configuration for changing parameters or updating form and so on So we have built telecom infrastructure on top of cloud and we now have provided connections to connectivity from those data environment to devices in the the And if you want to connect to the internet of course can that We can enable internet access for those devices but if you just need to access cloud services what Private data center from your devices We can also achieve that because devices are definitely to our platform And from device point of view next top is already Silicon cloud built on top of AWS if you are using for example AWS you don't have to go through the internet to access those services We have crowd diagnostic integration to other cloud services Google and Microsoft So if you choose to use Microsoft for example you can do that too without going through the internet how can we do that you may have wondered although I said you don't have to go through the internet but seller usually what it does It connects your devices right so the reason why we can actually achieve cloud native integration is that we have our own cell log network built on top of tops this network operator partners such as at and T-Mobile and have global coverage So we have agreement in various major countries and Multiple careers in each country And since we have our the cell lock one network The devices don't have to go through the internet to access our They just go directly from this local senior career sell their career to Silicon a platform Then we can actually offer all the APIs and end the point for the devices to integrate with cloud That's how we upload how we have achieved is this smart platform so give me let me give you an example of what we can do we of course connect devices to SORACOM platform That's the fun fundamental layer that we offer to our customers devices are connected to to SORACOM we can actually do for for example if you have a cloud based backend we can Achieves private peering between our environment and your cloud environment that can pre create a private network of devices and servers We can support like VPN private fiber channel or in cloud BPC peering If you are running your workload on top OFS you can just click around and build a secure environment We have integration to AWS Google and Microsoft and major cloud services You your device can just send data to Silicon command point and we call cloud API on you don't have to build the logic or credentials every device of yours take care of the rest So all the device needs to do is just to send data to Silicon platform care care of the rest We also have our own data storage and visual edition services if you are not sure which cloud to start with you can just start get started with data service later on you can actually switch to AWS Google or Microsoft once you decide to use or you can store data in both ends so that they can actually integrate with and store data in it's totally up to you Our policy is also to make the network connectivity layer as transparent as possible So feature that we offer we have on demand remote access that enables your you to access devices securely anytime you also have a packet capture feature if you want to do a troubleshooting you can just click around on our web console or call our API to start a packet capture session So for the specific period of time we capture pockets sent received by your device and make it available for download so that you can use wire shark any tool to analyze the the communication We also have a secure link service So if you are using your own internet connection to connect devices like wifi internet or whatever we achieve secure link from our end point to your device so that the all our services are available through the internet as well So by using these services we have supported customers to build the systems and scale from Small size of deployment to one medium on device scale how did we do that me actually talk about the ni gas case study again ni gas what they came to us and said Okay We want to connect 1 million gas meters to cloud environment We have chosen AWS as the cloud service provider and we have we know how to prepare the cloud side but have 1 million devices sending data toss and usually AWS has the SDK and you have create a of for each device and you need to call API through the internet So what happens is if you it it over the internet What have to do is you have to do HTTPS call API transaction If you chooses OT could be MQT DS but still you need to do secure heavy protocol from the device to the cloud API directly If you do it over a entire and this actually evolves this overhead as you imagine also since install build firmware configure credential So for each and every it is not as simple as you might and also the overhead caused by operation and credential management it it takes a lot of effort and spark And of course your developer needs to write a code with cloud services and protocol overhead is not a not something you can ignore especially about one medium on device scale So let's say if you do HTTPS transaction to send leading cloud endpoint you might actually have to do 10 kilobyte dock data per transac Which is small just have one device sending data to your end you're thinking about like 1 million devices that could be already a huge amount of data going to as the back call connection be a huge cost but if can actually protocol lightweight protocol P plain text or or will also get amount of data usage and that will reduce the cost of also reduce the battery on the device If you're running a device with a battery this changes this saves a lot of battery by reducing the communication no head head in case of SORACOM smart platform You can just send data to Silicon commando point just by using the simplest protocol possible It could be like a single UDP packet to SORACOM And then extracted payload from the packet and call the cloud endpoint on behalf of the device by doing this course you know mobile head is reduced and also you don't have to have the cloud SDK or credentials on device data securely through our cellular network And then also we can actually authenticate each device by using SIM card ID So we can actually securely receive data without any authentication or encryption then integrate with cloud and thepoint with much lower communication No have head And this means that as far as us you have the sort same embedded device You don't have to do credential management either So that's another big saving for total cost of ownership because if you have to manage the devices by using expensive MDM or any device management That be another development plus a solution cost We have bunch of other features in our platform I will just quickly mention that summarize what we I just talked the we data by using lower head protocol and then we can actually convert it into cloud compatible secure protocol cloud services API on behalf This can actually enables the integration of connected devices to cloud environment also have our own data storage visualization also convert data format by applying the logic you provide before sending the data to cloud environment So let's say if you have if your PLC or your gas meters or if your if your device has some proper proprietary format we You actually write a piece of code to apply before sending the data to cloud so that we can convert data into cloud compatible format such as JSON in this case So we have all these logic implemented in our platform So it's not just a on has a smart features that make your life easier and accelerate your time Also we have multiple connectivity options available and you can blend different options so case of niche gas our customer to use additional LP one protocols to save the cost of modules and deployment cost So they choses folks but this can be a lower end or other options as well In our case And if you do if you Mon need to use multiple options usually you have to talk to multiple providers and integrate with each platform In case of SORACOM we have supported multiple options Sy is one of them And also we support the Sigo for and if you have a LP one like a Ola one gateway we can also work with you to integrate So by using that you your backend has can just have one single integration to SORACOM And then we can all these multiple options This blended network support its scalable deployment successfully the Nichigas has deployed 1 million devices and Unibiz and SORACOM Unibiz is our partner who acquired SigFox we jointly served them And the customer has been really happy so far So they gave us us an award as a technical technology partner Just recently another thing that I wanna talk about is security and the our customers what they have done so the security is another big And if the connectivity provider is just offering internet connection you need to think about how to secure your infrastructure Snapchat So how did we help I HHI and the Mitsubishi heavy industries to implement secure architecture That's another topic I'd like to about about So we have private networking services We something called the virtual private gateway because we have implemented everything on top of cloud And we have a software components that we can launch Anytime we can actually create a customer dedicated private gateway away of for our sale network And that gateway to pair with yours PPC or your cloud environment by using VPN or you can we also do private fiber but and we can also let the devices over the internet to participate in our this private networking environment if needed So by doing this you can have a totally private network for your server and devices This helps a lot when it comes to securing your infrastructure Like for example in case of IHI They have you've been using virtual private gateway and environment countries and environment So even if you someone tries to do that This private network is isolated from internet Another thing I'd like to talk about is the Mitsubishi heavy industry machine They also need to access their devices securely and So what they have done is they have done both seller network and our secure link service So in case the devices the robot is connected over ethernet or seller not the ethernet cuz robot works around it's probably wifi when they connect over the internet they use our secure link To to then they use our remote access Fe on demand access feature to remotely access those robots from the administrator And the we have all these features but not it's not only that we have a solutions architect team the whenever the customer is going to develop a cloud integrated architecture we our solutions architect can help in case of Mitsubishi Our solutions architect team worked with them cuz it was a new project you we helped them architect the the entire system by Microsoft and many services the time project cycle much solutions two key takeaway I here is that by using smart connectivity with blended network support you can actually make the scalable and security is the top priority when it comes And our infrastructure allows to add the sec additional security layer As needed anytime so that can make your development and site also the security of the architecture without doing all the design and project on your end and as a result you can accelerate time to market and reduce the total cost of ownership so we like to access to also support any anyone Our partners who are going to build systems for their end customers or we can also directly support uh the customers in the oil and gas space industry and we for happy to work with them work with you guys that concludes my presentation And I would like to take any question if we if you have
Okay, so here is where the audience Q and a came And they didn't have microphones for people in the audience. So there was two questions. That were specifically asked the first one was what are the different types of radios and towers that are supported? And someone wanted to know the difference between private networking and private network. As an, a private cellular network. So they wanted some clarification on that. And then we had a question that was about SIG Fox and blended network support. So you'll hear. Kent does three answers to those questions? Right now.Kenta:
those are great questions I will break the your questions if and answer one by one so first question we have if you if we have the all the cloud cellular components by ourselves the answer is yes we have a cellular core network that supports 2g 3g 4g 5g And we have been using that as a cellular core to serve offering cellular connectivity and the second question is about the private network uh you can I use the term private network and that actually meant two different things and I used that term to explain isolated network for your devices and your servers that's what I meant And it private network I know it also means the private cellular network like CBRS based LT and so on So the answer is we basically offer public cloud public cellular network through our carrier partners for example here in the US we have supported AT&T and T-Mobile network So as far as the the public cellular signal is available your devices can connect to SORACOM end points through their carrier cellular signals But since we have all the telecom core network elements we can actually work with you to create private cellular hotspot by using private LTE CBRS gateways. we are happy to discuss with you if you have that kind of private cellular network deployment in mind we are happy to talk about that yeah please Yes did I cover about all the questions that you had yeah So thes Fox So the we have closely worked with UNAP based if you if you have followed the news Yase If we acquires Fox after the extract from the out of the business of the background Yeah bankrupt Yes that's the right term so the Unibiz has now the it's of we are offering the ox So it's been offering we normal And we have kept serving all for the United States they we have been discussing they they are they ox now has an option to do private based everyone it's they can offer those private based stations they have been already doing that in Canada and we have been you don't to big jointly we can support the ox deployment in the us as well The but we are not limited to SI Fox in terms of LP one we are solution That could be lower one deployment as well So we are we can certainly Support customers using LP Lola one as well The point is we asked one stop shop We recently announced there was satellite connection support with the partnership with a company secure whole we are further extending our goal is to be able to connect everything everyone over all over the world Thank everyone
Congratulations. You've reached the end of the presentation. In the meantime, I would love it. If you could leave a review. Give us a positive stars or whichever it is wherever you're listening to this out on the interwebs. Please go ahead and, and show your support. Until next time. I'm Ryan Carlson, your host, and this has been conversations in connectivity. I guess this is the part where I say goodbye. Right? So. Goodbye.