Siemens To Buy Container-Based Edge Platform From Pixeom

The industrial giant is diving deep into container technology to make it easier to run applications at the edge in factories. 'We view ourselves [as] what VMware did for the data center, we're doing for the edge,' Pixeom CEO Sam Nagar told CRN in an interview earlier this year.


Siemens said it plans to buy Intel-backed startup Pixeom’s edge computing platform, a move that will help the German industrial giant embrace container technology to make it easier to run edge applications in factories.

A spokesperson for Siemens told CRN that the acquisition, which was announced Thursday, includes Pixeom's assets and employees but not the business itself. Siemens declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close by December.

[Related: Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton: Integration Is Key To MindSphere's Success]

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The company said Pixeom's edge computing platform "will be at the heart" of its future Siemens Industrial Edge ecosystem, which it described as an open ecosystem that enables companies to create and manage edge applications with ease to analyze data in factory environments. Enabling an open ecosystem for applications and devices from different manufactures is a key component, according to the company.

Once the acquisition closes, Pixeom's edge computing platform will become a part of Siemens' Factory Automation business, which is part of the Siemens Digital Industries division that the company's MindSphere IoT platform is a part of.

"Cutting edge technologies such as edge computing open up new scope for automation. With Siemens Industrial Edge, we are creating an open edge ecosystem which offers benefits for companies of any size," Ralf-Michael Franke, CEO of Siemens Factory Automation, said in a statement.

One of Pixeom's key capabilities is the ability to package, deploy and orchestrate cloud applications on commodity hardware through containerization, giving companies the ability to run these types of applications on edge and on-premises servers without the need for any specific hardware configuration.

The startup, which has offices in San Jose, Calif. and Udaipur, India, has touted this ability to extend cloud applications to the edge through containerization as a way to accelerate development, build smarter applications and make it easier to run a large-scale, geographically distributed infrastructure.

Siemens said it will use Docker, the container technology that Pixeom uses to run applications at the edge, as part of its Industrial Edge ecosystem. The company said this will improve the ease in which companies can provision applications to edge devices in factories from a central location.

Sam Nagar, CEO and co-founder of Pixeom, told CRN earlier this year that the company started to get a lot of traction with enterprises after it formed a partnership with Google Cloud, which allowed the startup to provide edge versions of the cloud service provider's various components, such as machine learning.

"Our product fundamentally solves an IT problem, and it solves a developer problem," he said in a May interview.

On the IT side, according to Nagar, Pixeom gets rid of the need for an IT person to visit the physical location of servers to deploy new applications, monitor system health and restart systems, instead allowing them to perform those tasks remotely.

For developers, Pixeom gives them the ability to quickly take an application that was built for a cloud service and move them to on-premises or edge servers.

"We view ourselves [as] what VMware did for the data center, we're doing for the edge," Nagar said.

Sam Hoff, CEO of Patti Engineering, an Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Siemens partner that provides industrial IoT solutions, said Siemens' acquisition of Pixeom's edge computing platform helps the industrial giant "complete the loop" between applications running on the edge and cloud.

"People have a lot of misconceptions and say, 'hey we're going to hook up everything and send everything to the cloud,'" whereas companies should actually put more consideration into how much computing they can do closer to industrial systems, he said.

Hoff said Pixeom's edge computing capabilities will help Siemens partners like his company better serve customers who want to derive more insights from their industrial data.

"The more analytics we can do, the more we can help people on the plant floor manage those machines daily, the better we are," he said.