Why should we talk about FIWARE as a platform? Or even as “the platform for platforms”?
Why does it worth the time, to investigate and to invest in FIWARE?
From the techies' perspective, focusing primarily on the technology, the FIWARE platform means somehow a catalogue, an instance where you can deploy your solution. It means a repository, a set of components, a development kit.
But, if there are other things out there, that feel and look like the components and APIs provided by FIWARE… why the developers should investigate deeper? Why they should try FIWARE?
Business wise, a platform is a club, a place where stakeholders meet to collaborate. Potentially, platforms organized as brokers are providing value to the multiple sides. FIWARE started as a public-private partnership, developing first a feasible architecture and a technology, aiming to find a suitable business model. So, why joining this club? Where is the business?
We experienced that potential interested parties don't got it quite right on the first shot – they struggled, even when they were trying hard. FIWARE is not a the kind of product that comes with prize tag. It could be regarded as "something" virtual and, when it arrived, it was not widely established yet. However, today, it is tested and is being used in many domains and across 37 countries. Now, after years of work –sometimes under a stormy weather– we can say that the concept have became a reality.
However and fortunately, FIWARE is a platform comprising and offering both perspectives: the business' nurturing and the technology ready to use. And even more!
FIWARE is the glue, what is connecting the dots. Technically, it is a portfolio of APIs enabling the use of generic software components, providing the specifications, describing how to connect and to access the platform using a diversity of software modules. But the ecosystem using the technology is equally important. Within the FIWARE community you can meet early adopters, who are eager to proof a concept: that the collaboration and the cooperation are essential is we want to win this game. If we want to innovate fast and to support modern economies on scale.
FIWARE is for open minded people. It is a gift, an open-source and royalty free technology, free to use. It is designed to be used and reuse, presenting key quality attributes as the modifiability, modularity and portability, in order to support interoperability. The modular concept guarantees innovation, keeping it at a fast pace. FIWARE is not a monolithic structure. It is designed to support its own improvement and to ease the incorporation of new modules.
The governance model is also based on participation, on a participatory power. Not only the IPR rights are saved and protected via the Berlin based FIWARE Foundation. The stakeholders have established ambitious plans to scale up and to foster the adoption of the technology in the domains of Agriculture, Manufacturing and Smart IoT Cities, to name just a few topics.
Smart Cities Lab, as a Think Tank and a Center of Excellence, was established in 2013, in Hamburg. It has been assembling and offering an iHUB since 2015, in our co-working space. Supporting 96 teams in the acceleration phase, Smart Cities Lab participated in the uptake of FIWARE in Germany and in several other European countries.
We have been building our FIWARE network also in the US (Portland, San José, San Francisco, Austin, Virginia Beach and Washington) and Canada (Edmonton, Montreal, Waterford and Toronto). And, in 2016, we started our activities in India, where we opened a first Lab in Mumbai and established a second one recently, located in Jabalpur.
Heading to 2017, we are on the run to join forces with several more communities, in order to facilitate the close collaboration between the Labs and our other partners, within public-private partnerships in Pune, Jaipur, Ahmadabad and Bhubaneswar, while we keep advancing in the US.
“FIWARE meets all the requirements for IoT in cities, and even beyond. Its the platform of choice, and many Indian Academic Institutes and clusters recognized the potential thus planning to adopts FIWARE and OpenStack to support the City as a platform to became smart“, says co-founder and CTO of Smart Cities Lab, Eng. Rahul Tomar, during the inauguration of FIWARE Lab in Jabalpur in November 2016.
We opened the first FIWARE Lab in Germany –Cebit 2015– and supported the second in 2016, also providing a full range of commercial services and a portfolio of solutions for Smart Cities, IoT, Agriculture and Manufacturing.
Supporting the FI-PPP, we also initiated crowd-sourced Quality Assessment activities, which finally resulted in the advanced QA system.
Being part of our agenda for 2016, we have already activated several projects, in order to provide new generic enablers for IoT; we have started cluster activities for an advanced federation of labs; and we hace put in place a new innovative academy concept, coming soon. We are participating in several domain specific and international standardization activities around Smart Cities and IoT.
FIWARE and blockchain, and the importance of FIWARE as a concept.
We are at the tipping point: the people is getting more likely to trust open source versus proprietary software; almost anyone is more likely to join the crowd as a collaborator than as an intermediary broker or provider (usually a gatekeeper!); we are all more likely to choose a crowd-backed solution, instead of a single vendor. Blockchain enables the rise of crowdsourced trust, making possible to challenge untrusted organizations.
FIWARE and Blockchain are sisters, born from the same hope: to regain self-efficacy and autonomy. Politicians all over the world recognize FIWARE as the European answer to the occupation of a common ground by monopolists – and by too much successful ones!
That is a similar hope to the one we all have, facing the disruption to come within the old Economy. Even today, a money transfer from Germany to India for 295 Euro, costs 45 Euro in fees. We all have lost faith in the traditional financial systems, with a lot of actors still often acting more or less as pirates. The rise of new technical options within the most recent phase of the digital transformation –the Internet of Everything– presents a core opportunity for FIWARE, both as technology basis and a trustworthy ecosystem.
“FIWARE is a cake in the middle of a big roundtable— eat what you want, share the cake with your peers and enjoy collaboration”, according to the vision of Olaf-Gerd Gemein, author of this article, Co-Founder of Smart City Lab and Co-Chair of the Steering Board Committee of the Future Internet Public-Private Partnership, which have been facilitating the FIWARE framework.
How to build your product and adopt multiple standards? FIWARE is advancing together with 31 international standardization associations and working groups, presenting a metamodel and several particular contributions, developing concepts and pieces of software that are getting widely accepted as de-facto standards.
Now, its time to enjoy, to harvest the fruits. We had fertilized the ground, we have cared about the seeds. We have struggled with technical challenges and resolved communication issues. Today, we are closer than half there. Now we can scale and innovate, fast.
The FIWARE Foundation is now a reality. And it is hosted in Berlin, Germany. A good choice: it is a place where we will take care and build a warm and cosy nest, encouraging the participation of the German technological community, engaging with the Government and the Industry stakeholders. Supporting the global FIWARE ecosystem.
We have to say a big loud “thank you all, for your efforts”. Personally, we must give a special “thank you!” for the support of the European Commission, in particular to Jesus Villasante, Mario Campolargo and Peter Fatelnig, to name just a few, from DG Connect; to Juanjo Hierro, as the CTO of the Foundation; to the ambitious team of FIWARE Mundus, led by Jacques Magen; and to Ilkka Lakaniemi as President and Pentti Launonen as Chief Secretary, for their patience and pragmatic guidance under all circumstances. They all have had and will have tremendous shares in the success that we can achieve today… and tomorrow.
We take pride in the words “We are with FIWARE!”. And we are looking forward to the fruitful years ahead, building the global Smart Cities labs!
Olaf-Gerd Gemein. Co-Founder of Smart City Lab,
Hamburg, Mumbai, London (@oggemein / fiware.in).