Edge computing in Agriculture - Security and Technology | HUB Security & Trilogy Networks
Thank you for joining us. My name is Gaurav Sharma. I am VP of North America at a company called HUB Security and we are focused on a new security paradigm called Confidential Computing. Now with us, we have Nancy and Venky from Trilogy Networks. So Nancy, do you want to kick it off and introduce yourself? Sure. I'm Nancy Schemwell.
I'm the COO with Trilogy Networks, and delighted to be here with one of our great Rural Cloud Initiative Partners, HUB Security. Fantastic. Thank you. Hi. I'm Venky Swaminathan.
I'm co-founder and CTO at Trilogy Networks. Excited to have HUB Security as part of our initiative and largely also working together to secure the distributed network that we're building. Fantastic. So let's kick it off, Nancy.
Would you mind explaining a little bit about RCA, what RCA is, and you share some thoughts about it. So Venky was a little bit modest. He's not only one of the co-founders and the CTO. He is the brains of the organization He came up with an idea that if you if you look at edge compute capability, the ability to actually reach out into rural America is going to take more than one supplier. So how do you bring a bunch of interested technology providers, as well as the rural, the rural, independent telephone companies, And the application providers are really going to have to work together. So we formed a coalition which is now about 80 partners that represent all three classes that are engaged in building 1.5 million square
miles of rural edge capablity across rural America. Obviously, those same type of challenges exist around the rest of the world. But when you start to look at things like industrial IoT and the industries that can be impacted in a tremendous way, both in their productivity as well as the economic benefits, that tends to focus on rural areas with industries like agriculture and oil and gas, obviously things that are important to us right now. So if you look at that and the fact that the industrial IoT can support great economies and great activities, then you have to look at the network infrastructure that's built out there or lack of what is built out there. And then, of course, from your perspective, as a great partner with us, we want to look at how do you secure that. So it's all about how do you build edge compute capability Across the nation in a secure and easy to use way so that people can start to take advantage of the tremendous technology applications that are being built to augment their businesses and drive great productivity and value.
Fascinating. Thank you for that introduction, Nancy. What are some of the key industries, you mentioned agriculture and oil and gas, but can you share a little bit about how they're going to be able to leverage some of these last mile connectivity, as Venky says, you know, to unlock some of the use cases that we haven't touched on at this point.
Sure. So so we've been focused on agriculture, because if you think about it, there are a couple compelling events. Number one, agriculture is 11% of the global economy.
11%, right? That's massive. And everybody has to eat. And if you look at the explosion, the population explosion, that's happening on a global basis, those countries that are producing agriculture and exporting for world usage, for world consumption have to double the food supply in the next 28 years, which is only 28 crop cycles.
So Venky will spend a bit more time talking about detail of this, but if you think about how do you get better yield, How do you get a better crop harvest of that yield? How do you transport it all the way through the food supply? There are tremendous opportunities for technology, whether it's robotics, drones, AI engines, etc., that can augment the ability to to do that and then go share some use cases. Obviously, of course, securing all of that as a bunch of remote assets is even more critical than it might be on on a more closed environment. Absolutely. And we'll touch on that. Yeah, sure. Venky maybe you could put some color on some of the applications for them. Sure. Yeah.
Excuse me. Yeah. So if you look at the farming operations and practices, unlike in other industries where we have made a lot of strides in digitization and we look today in a model, many enterprise sectors, any vertical, we look at it as a digital enterprise, agriculture has never had that that opportunity or access to technology to do that. Farms don't come with an IT department even to have basic network and technology available.
So that's been the biggest challenge. And so when we looked at this distributed cloud and our and and particularly in agriculture, compounding on the challenges that that Nancy mentioned, there is a lot of friction and barrier for adoption. And we then talked about how can we address that? How can we simplify and remove all the friction between the technology and the agriculture automation and the user And that's how our focus kind of shifted more towards agriculture and designing a solution that can solve the problem. On a standardized platform, end-to-end. It's not just one piece of the puzzle.
We have to solve multiple pieces of the puzzle here. The network at the farm itself to the farm and across the farm. We call it the last feet and the last map. And agricultural operations require that last feet connectivity. So you can then have a have a basis to build your technology upon that.
The data gathering, the automation, the the digitization can happen when you have a network in place. So that's a starting point. And then you tie that to a cloud infrastructure that then removes all friction for data and applications and demand from hyperscale cloud to regional cloud to on farm compute infrastructure. If you can buy all that into a single fabric that removes further friction. And then the third piece of the puzzle is access to that network and cloud infrastructure to a worldwide developer ecosystem that are developing fantastic applications but just doesn't have the wherewithal to cross all this barriers and friction.
And you bring them on to a marketplace, you tie them on to get there, the network, the cloud infrastructure, and I give that access to the developers. We saw that magic happen on the smartphone platform in other industries. When you open that up and give them a simple, simple infrastructure to access and build applications, we have completely changed over our lives with iPhone and Android, and that's the kind of evolution we need to happen. See happen globally. So that's that's why we position a talk about farm grid as a as a digital platform for agriculture and that can help standardize and remove all that friction and allow a lot of innovation to happen.
Fantastic. So let's geek out a little bit. So I want to talk a little bit more about the last feet connectivity that you talk about, right? So connected to things like 5G and what the telco industry is bringing to the market, right? How does that play out in this scenario that we've been discussing about, rural broadband? Yeah, that's a good question. We talked a lot about 5G and the killer app and use cases. We see for 5G as a great, great use case to use on net for agricultural applications in two ways. One is the working as a backhaul connectivity for the last feet network that we build on the phone because of the size and scale of farms, particularly in North America. It's just easily scalable with the 5G technology to connect farms to the cloud as a backhaul network.
That's one use case that we use 5G for. The second one is meshing their networks together to act as a single network or extend the network coverage or large tracts of the land. 5G is a great, great technology to do that. And you can then you also use the same infrastructure and create virtualized network.
What they call in 5G, as 5G network slicing and be able to have economies of scale in building 5G networks for farm. One architecture we are betting on is what we call a 5G network cluster. We build one physical 5G network, but slice it for multiple farming farms and farming applications as virtual networks. That way your costs of your network for the physical network can then be applied across multiple farming operations and farms. So we are able to scale that model both economically and technically. Fantastic.
So let's let's talk a little bit more about what you were talking about. You know, the layered architecture that you have, right? In terms of network data and compute and then how you're bringing the apps together. That would be fascinating for us to understand how you're making that the frictionless experience possible for the developers and obviously from the farmers perspective. Yeah, yeah. So if you look at the network, let's start with the network.
That's, that's kind of fundamental. The applications and use cases that for agriculture are right. Any other industries, you have a plethora of networking technologies that are used. You have Bluetooth, you have Wi-Fi, BLE, Zigbee, Modbus and rural band all of this created. What has happened is it's created a fragmented set of applications that has to be built custom to the networking technologies that are on the ground and the sensors that are available. So the first thing they're doing is we are abstracting all the complexities of this network.
So app developers don't have to deal with those kind of complexities. They don't have to learn Lora. They don't have to learn how to stream media or WiFi. They don't have to know about how the pairing of BLE works. We abstract all that and take care of all of that on our platform. So as an application developer, you focus on the the use case and the user experience that you're building for.
So if you are a soil science company, building fantastic soil analytics, you want to just focus on that. You don't want to know about LTE or 5G because that's your business. And that's your core expertise. So that's how we abstract, how we abstract all that and make it simple for them to consume just the data directly on the cloud and they can build that. managing water, or crop science, or leaf science, understanding the help of the leaf and all that.
So that's one of the ways we are removing friction on the network layer. The second one is on the devices. Again managing devices managing device onboarding, security lifecycle of the device. Those again are lots of friction for applications. We simplify that by by standardizing a standard device experience. We we make sure those devices are already preboarded on our network.
It works. We can pick it up its lifecycle. We can allow the user to have a very good experience on onboarding that network. And then the third part is the cloud infrastructure. What we do is we standardize and simplify the orchestration so your application can live anywhere that you best choose it to be.
Could be on the farm itself on a compute layer there, could be a regional cloud, could be in an availability zone far away. We support the seamless experience for the application to reside wherever they see fit and provide a single network environment for them to work on. So those are the ways we simplify and standardize and remove all the friction for applications to be installed on these farms. Venky, I'm going to add one more thing that I think your audience that may not be working in rural America may not appreciate the fact that there are 2000 rural carriers. So when Venky says he takes the friction out and he's able to take that data and put it on to a virtual private network, now the application provider is not having to worry about trying to deal with 2000 rural carriers.
Right? We're building those relationships with those carriers. We are busy working with the Hyperscalers to bring that capability to that region of the country. So those are monumental things that today, you know, technically, people are building applications and building weight onto their applications to be able to run, to do this, that and the other. But they're also charging for connectivity that is being duplicated or it would no longer need to be duplicated because it would be covered across the farm grid. So when you think about all of this and what the solution and the coalition are doing together, it's taking enormous technical and commercial complexities out of the hands of the farmer.
That's fantastic. And that was a really good explanation of why we really need to think about these different architectures. And one of the things that you mentioned, Nancy, is very fascinating. But I think we need to clarify and talk a little bit more about is, you know, as we're bringing this connectivity outside of the hyperscalers public cloud infrastructure, it becomes very important to look at it from a lens of critical infrastructure. Right.
So now we're not computin, we're not behind a walled garden. of a hyperscalers and the hyperscalers are actually giving us the ability to burst out the doors and put these, you know, hyperscale infrastructures on the edge right on the farm. And that becomes the next topic that I really want to touch upon, is the critical infrastructure aspect of it. So now all of these use cases that we mentioned for our audience, you know, from critical infrastructure perspective, we look at all of these different sectors like precision agriculture, oil and gas, all these different sectors that fall under one of the sixteen sectors of what CISA, which is the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency as part of our federal government, has categorized as critical infrastructure. Right.
And that becomes a fascinating way for us to start looking at how do we set this up. I'll add a caveat. You know, from a security perspective, you know, we've always been as a security industry have been an afterthought, right? So it's always the application gets developed and that's all fantastic. We go through the whole testing cycle and then, you know, bring the security guys in to verify that everything looks good.
But the challenge really is that now since we're bursting out of the public infrastructure onto the edge and now we're bringing these critical workloads, these critical infrastructures are getting operated at the edge, it becomes extremely important for us to look at it from a lens of security. So Venky I wanted to get your sense from a zero trust perspective, right? You guys are looking at zero trust. I want you to quickly give us a perspective on that. In terms of what what you're seeing from a security perspective. Yeah.
Can I add one thing first? Because as you as you look at the market, the critical infrastructure, so much of this critical infrastructure, again, is at rural. And the world of IoT has brought tremendous advancements. But as Venky spoke about it, you know, it's Bluetooth, it's LoRa, it's some of it is very inexpensive devices.
So making sure that IoT does not turn into a botnet army is critical. And where what both you and Venky are working on is so important. And I'll add to that.
So as part of the infrastructure bill, cybersecurity got close to $2 billion of funding. But as Nancy mentioned, rural broadband is actually extremely critical. And that's why that specific area got 65 billion in federal funding for rural broadband that's why it becomes really important to see these two pieces not a separate things but essentially part of a cohesive whole that we need to take consideration into. So Venky, please go ahead. Yeah. So I'd like to take a step back and kind of give the context here as to how we approach approach security from this.
So the last decade has been as been all about data consumption. We went through a massive era of data consumption The cloud hyperscalers built a cloud infrastructure that made that happen, and it was a much more controlled environment for them. To control security and manage.
They have our availability zones and it's in their control, and you're able to manage your security in there. It is a good job of that. But now we are moving into a massive era of data generation. And the other aspect to that is that the assets are very distributed.
Now, all of these assets are generating data and consistently in many data centers generating data. Now, we need a completely different security paradigm and approach for that. So we have to have a security first approach in architecting and designing everything from the device layer to the network layer to the cloud infrastructure. That is the only way to be able to secure all these these distributed assets and and the very critical assets you're bringing online, very, very critical assets all across the country. And without a security first approach, we are just going to be failing.
So when you look at how broad you are, attack surfaces, you've got to evaluate every step of the way. Every network design you do, every software architecture you do, where are you opening things up. How do you get that attack surface low, where is the best place to do that, So that that approach has to be integral into into what design and architecture of the network itself and the devices and the application layer. In the cloud infrastructure you had somebody take care of that for you and did that to give you a readymade, readymade portfolio of security services. You can do it.
But here we are going to be very fragmented, very distributed. So, starting with security is the best way to build one. Yeah. So, I'll emphasize a little bit about our partnership, right? The way that we are looking at things is from a lens of zero trust.
But also, as you mentioned, Venky, which is very important is data, massive amount of data being generated at the edge, being processed at the edge because latency requirements or even the cost of, you know, offloading data to the public cloud for analysis is huge. So it becomes important for us. We look at it from a data perspective and from a security perspective. The design really needs to consider how the data is protected at rest, in transit and in use.
And that's our focus when we are trying to bring secure edge computing as part of the whole initiative under RCA is to look at data from these different lenses and apply the architectures revolving around zero trust. That becomes a key ingredient of how we need to start thinking about security and application development. Yeah. Yeah. And and that is integral to our both technical architecture and our business architecture.
We have multiple layers of security that we are building in. And that comes with our network partners in place so we, we have our own layer of security from the device to the private network at the Enterprise, the transport of the data to the local regional networks. That's us.
And then on top of that, you have a our network partners layering on their security of protecting that network, which they already do, they are all ISPs, and they have their own layers of security and security protocols in place. And the third piece is the working with hyperscalers, bringing in their existing security practices and their security layers on top of what we have. So we kind of we don't want to be the lone player there. We wanted to have these partnerships in place not just for business reasons, but also for the security reasons. Fantastic.
All right. Well, Nancy, Venky, really appreciate your insights. This was really informational and we're very excited for our partnership and to bring the rural connectivity and focus on critical infrastructure. And securing it is a huge thing for us.
So thank you for your time today. Well, we thank you for your partnership. We thank you for the progress and the advancements that you're making in securing networks and how you're working with multiple partners so that, as Venly said, multiple layers of the network are protected. So congratulations and thank you for your partnership and your continued success and for allowing me us join you Thank you very much.