PTC’s intent to steer a course toward the Internet of Things (IoT) is no secret, especially for those of us attending the recent PTC Live 2014 event in Boston this June. Now with the proposed acquisition of Axeda Corp. made public this month, it appears PTC is about to go at the IoT full throttle.
Axeda, which PTC is acquiring for approximately $170 million in cash, bills itself as an IoT connectivity provider, delivering a platform that gives companies building the “things” a secure way to connect them to the cloud. The Axeda Machine Cloud Service includes machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT connectivity services, software agents and toolkits, which can be tapped to establish secure connectivity and to remotely monitor and manage a wide range of machines, sensors, and devices.
Axeda got its start providing a “connected service” type of application, which PTC has been touting as the wave of the future for a new generation of smart, connected products. The Axeda technology came into existence to enable Diebold, a security provider, to deliver over-the-air software patches to its ATM machines as a way to reduce the cost of sending technicians on site to remote locations to handle repairs. The product eventually evolved into an IoT connectivity platform, according to Jim Heppelmann, PTC’s president and CEO.
The Axeda connectivity capabilities are a key piece of the PTC IoT development stack, Heppelmann explains, and they complement the ThingWorx rapid application development environment. PTC acquired ThingWorx last December for $112 million—yet another sizeable IoT investment.
“Another way to think of it is that in order to capitalize on the Internet of Things, a company needs a product that generates data, needs a way to connect to that product to collect the data, and needs a way to develop the applications that make sense of the data,” Heppelmann explained to Desktop Engineering in an email interview. “PTC is expanding from its historical roots in helping companies make products with these new capabilities for connecting them and for leveraging their data.”
The data that the Axeda platform collects and securely delivers is the key source of input for ThingWorx-built IoT applications, Heppelmann added. ThingWorx becomes the means through which companies build the IoT applications as well as monitor, control, optimize and automate the new generation of smart, connected products participating in IoT. PTC’s line of service lifecycle management (SLM) offerings, a result of its Servigistics acquisition, fill in another piece of the puzzle, providing a suite of tools that can help facilitate service and support of IoT-connected products in the field.
Confused and wondering where all of this IoT stuff squares with PTC’s decades-plus heritage in CAD and PLM? Heppelmann doesn’t think you should be if you consider where products are heading, whether that product is an airliner or a consumer washing machine.
“Products have evolved from purely physical components to complex systems combining processors, sensors, software and digital user interfaces that are now connected to the Internet and each other,” he says. “The path to smart, connected products begins with CAD and PLM technology. After all, there is no Internet of Things without the ‘things’ — and those things require incredible sophistication in their design as they continue to evolve into complex systems.”
The Axeda acquisition is expected to be finalized in PTC’s fiscal fourth quarter 2014.
Look for Desktop Engineering’s in-depth coverage of the Internet of Things in the August issue.
Watch this video to get a brief overview of Axeda’s Machine Cloud Service platform.
This video provides some perspective on PTC’s vision IoT and smart connected products.