Wind River’s Partner Ecosystem

If some ecosystems are like a forest of trees that all have generally the same shape and characteristics, the embedded ecosystem is more like the ocean: enormously diverse, large and interconnected.

Wind River has been in the embedded business for thirty years and has one of the largest ecosystems of hardware and software solution partners. Wind River supports a broad base of partners comprised of silicon providers, board vendors and independent software vendors (ISVs) across a wide range of verticals including aerospace and defense, networking, industrial, medical, mobile, automotive and digital home. Wind River’s Roger Williams, vice president of alliances and business development, provided insight into this partner ecosystem for Embedded Intel® Solutions magazine.

Embedded Intel® Solutions: What’s unique about an ecosystem for the embedded industry?

Roger Williams, Wind River: The embedded market is very fragmented. This presents choices for customers at every point (silicon, operating system (OS), middleware, applications and tools) in their solution stack as they build an integrated hardware and software offering. The fragmentation can also drive a different set of solution providers for each layer depending on the vertical. Wind River spans and competes across a wide range of market segments, so we have a very broad and extensive set of partners in our ecosystem.

Embedded Intel Solutions: How has Wind River built its ecosystem?

Williams: Wind River starts from the premise that each customer is building a solution, which could be a navigation system for an airplane, a wireless base station, a smart phone, tablet or home energy-management system. We make sure that between Wind River’s offerings and our ecosystem partners that our customers have access to all the necessary and best solution components for their projects so they can pick and choose where they buy and where they add their own value.

Because customers vary in their approach, Wind River delivers a range of products to its customer, from just a platform of OS and tools to complete devices depending on the customers’ needs.

We do this because some customers have their own expertise to develop solutions and just want a starting point and tools. For other customers, where time-to-market is critical or where they may not have all the necessary skills, Wind River can provide a turnkey solution through our professional services group. We also see these preferences differ by verticals – for example, the aerospace and defense market segment has long cycles and they do more of the development, whereas for the consumer market segment, time-to-market is critical and they prefer bundled solutions.

Embedded Intel Solutions: What’s changing today in the market and ecosystems?

Williams: If you look across the general technology market there is an increasing move to vertical integration which has to do with driving innovations in services, customer experience, time-to-market and emerging business models. The most obvious case is Apple integrating the device (silicon, OS, apps) and much more to include iTunes and cloud services to deliver customers a wide range of user experiences. In addition, the business model evolution is very significant as Google’s and Apple’s models are predicated on monetizing services, not selling devices.

These same pressures are being felt in the embedded space. However, since embedded lacks the same scale and uniformity as consumer, the benefit and ability to vertically integrate through acquisition or investment for any company is limited, so the proper approach is to focus on deep partnerships. Wind River is seeing both an opportunity and requirement to integrate our offerings with partners. We have done this with our Validation Program for ISVs in aerospace and defense, networking and industrial verticals and with board vendors through Wind River’s On Board Program.

Embedded Intel Solutions: Can you give an example of how this trend is providing opportunity for ecosystem participants?

Williams: One example would be in the machine-to-machine (M2M) market. M2M is the Internet of things, devices and systems communicating with humans and other machines. There are already more than one billion M2M devices at work in sensors, smart meters, smart buildings, etc., but this number will grow to 20-50 billion, which will require and drive integrated solutions from a robust ecosystem.

The M2M market opportunity and our work with Intel, Kontron, Eurotech and wireless carriers such as Vodafone has provided a significant opportunity for all partners involved. Building and delivering an M2M solution involves combining silicon, hardware, middleware and tools, application design, connectivity/cloud services, and the overall integration and testing of such as a system. We concluded that the best approach was a strategic collaboration among the partners, in the form of a verified and validated platform solution that takes out the complexity between the hardware and the software. This collaboration has enabled us to significantly reduce time-to-market requirements. We’ve also increased our value-added services by providing a rich and complete out-of-the-box experience that allows our joint customers to focus their efforts and investments around key market/business initiatives.

With our M2M partners, Wind River will continue to simplify the development, implementation and management of M2M solutions so that enterprises can rapidly deploy intelligent, connected and secure devices to realize the benefits of M2M for their businesses.

Embedded Intel Solutions: So what will the embedded ecosystem look like in the future?

Williams: I think the embedded ecosystem will continue to grow and fragmentation will give way to diversity as connectivity takes hold. M2M and its potential of 50 billion connected intelligent and secure devices will provide the necessary scale for a large and integrated embedded ecosystem. Think of it this way: if some ecosystems are like a forest of trees that all have generally the same shape and characteristics, the embedded ecosystem will be more like the ocean: enormously diverse, large and interconnected.