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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management

Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved. — Thomas S. Monson

Sunday, October 26, 2014

#YJJ Architecture: Services in the Cloud

Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
6:42 pm


On April 5th, I posted a high level architecture diagram of sensors, subsystem controllers, gateway and supporting functions that will need to exist on the Jeep.  Today’s post offers a high level diagram of functionality that should exist in the Yellow Jeep Cloud. This roughly follows the structure of the Oracle IoT Platform I described in my March 22nd post.



One basic design objective is that all functions will be exposed as secure API’s that could be consumed by web apps or mobile apps as needed.  Therefore, the primary interface to the open Internet is a secure API gateway.  This may operate in conjunction with an enterprise service bus that manages a catalog of available services and API’s.

For the purpose of this post, available services are divided into five major categories, with three major data repositories:

First, the data repositories:

Data Repository.  This is the database where all data from the Jeep (or many Jeeps) will be collected and stored for functional processing or analysis.

Device Repository.  This database will be used to maintain a complete catalog of all available and used devices, along with capabilities pertaining to each device.

User Directory.  This directory will be used to maintain all users, access rights and credentials necessary to access data services and applications in the YJJ cloud.

Now, the functional elements:

Functional Services.  These services are really the focal point of the YJJ cloud.  It is this functionality that will make the the data collected and used from the Jeeps used.  Some functions may be quite generic, such as data ingest, event processing and data analytics, but I anticipate that a set of #YJJ-specifc services (yet to be defined) will be the most important set of functions in this group.

Device Management.  A complete catalog of devices authorized to connect to the YJJ Cloud will need to be maintained, and secure access rules enforced.  Functions to discover, register and manage changes to this large network of devices will be required.

User Management.  All users that will access YJJ data, services, APIs or applications will need to be registered and access rights be appropriately granted.  

Access Management. Access Management or Control functionality will be needed to enforce security polity for application access by users as well as to secure the APIs that can be used by external applications for accessing YJJ functionality.

Administration Services.  Common administration services will be needed to monitor the health of system components and provide auditing and reporting functions.

This provides a very high level view of my thoughts for YJJ Cloud functionality.  Much more definition is needed for each set of services.  Stay tuned!

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!



#YJJ Architecture: Devices on the Jeep

Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, April 4, 2014
2:10 pm


The following diagram illustrates how the the sensors I proposed would map onto the general Oracle Internet of Things reference architecture I recently discussed.

At the first level, this diagram shows possible raw sensors and the device controllers responsible for configuring and monitoring the sensors.  The gateway device would aggregate the data and forward that data in either raw or summarized form to the data ingest function in the cloud.  Intermediate storage at the gateway level would allow the Jeep to continue to operate in cases where wireless communication is not available.  The gateway would also provide local APIs what could be consumed by a user interface app on an iPad via Wi-Fi connection.


Of course, a lot more detail is needed.  Each little subsystem could become quite complex. What fun!

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!



#YJJ Architecture: Psychokinetic Energy Sensor

Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
5:04 pm



Today, I learned of a new sensor I will absolutely need to add to the #YJJ Architecture instrumentation list  The IPSO Alliance announced a new Psychokinetc Energy (PKE) smart sensor:

This new product will allow consumers to remotely monitor paranormal activity in their home and work environments. It is currently under patent review.

Boy, this new sensor should help to identify the ghosts of old Willys Jeeps that might be hanging around and help ferret out mysterious, phantom engine anomalies! The Internet of Things may have just crossed over into the Twilight Zone!

The sensor comes with an impressive list of product features:

  • Unprecedented sensitivity – up to 300 meter detection zone
  • Quadcore technology – track multiple entities simultaneously
  • Astral Positioning System enables real time map tracking/Google maps overlay
  • Connecting multiple systems enables wider coverage
  • Sends alerts via SMS and Twitter to avoid supranatural interference
  • False positive detection software filters out non psychokinetic activity
  • Internet enabled
  • iPhone™/Android™ Applications
  • IPv6 compatibility
  • Supports optional Home Entity Management System (HEMS)
  • Google Glass™ and IP-based actuator interfaces: sense activity, record and share

For more information, please contact:

  • Laff Sonyu, IPSO Marketing Director (marketing@ipso-alliance.org)
  • Hugh Morris, Grid Connect Marketing Lead (marketing@gridconnect.com)

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!


How Much Time Have You Wasted/Invested on Twitter?

Social Media
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, March 29, 2014
6:56 am


This happy little notice dropped in my email box this morning, claiming that my birthday was also the sixth anniversary of my joining Twitter.



Actually, Twitter may need to adjust its email robot a bit.  Upon further investigation, with the help of the Twopcharts web site, I found more precise information:



So, I have been on Twitter a total of 2,500 days (6 years, 10 months and 4 days).  Twitter was only 10 months late sending the Twitterversary message to me.

The burning question is: how much valuable time have you wasted or invested (depending on your point of view) posting tweets on Twitter?  Twopcharts estimates 118 hours for me!

Tweet on, my friends!


Social Media and Donuts

Social Media
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, March 28, 2014
1:33 pm



This morning, I stumbled upon a Facebook post that explained the different social media services in terms that even I could understand.  I think it originally came from geek.com.  Grab a donut and enjoy!

Social media donut 590x590


#YJJ Architecture: Oracle #IoT Platform

Internet of Things, Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, March 22, 2014
8:06 am


As a starting point to explore how to implement the YJJ Architecture, let’s take a look at the Oracle Internet of Things platform. The following diagram highlights what parts of the Oracle reference architecture would be installed in the Jeep and which would be in the Yellow Jeep Cloud.


The Oracle architecture is built end-to-end on Java.  At the device and gateway end, Oracle Java ME Embedded can e leveraged in the sensor devices. Oracle Java SE Embedded would be used in the Gateway device that ties multiple sensor subsystems together and communicates wirelessly to the Yellow Jeep Cloud in a data center.

In the Yellow Jeep Cloud, a variety of Oracle middleware and application products, also implemented in Java, can be leveraged, based on the specific application. 

In future posts, I will drive to a deeper level of detail on both the Jeep and cloud sides of the architecture to examine how this reference architecture can be applied to equip my Yellow Jeep for its journey.


McAfee Labs Threats Report – Fourth Quarter 2013

Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, March 21, 2014
8:05 am


This morning, I read the recently-released McAfee Labs Threats Report – Fourth Quarter 2013   The lead story was entitled “The cybercrime industry and its role in POS attacks.”  To introduce a timeline chart that includes successful attacks on well known retailers, the report states:

In December, we began to hear of a series of point-of-sale (POS) attacks on multiple retail chains across the United States. The first story to break was specific to Target; this attack has been ranked among the largest data-loss incidents of all time. Soon we learned of more retail chains affected by POS attacks. Neiman Marcus, White Lodging, Harbor Freight Tools, Easton-Bell Sports, Michaels Stores, and ‘wichcraft all suffered similar POS breaches in 2013. Although there has been no public acknowledgment that the attacks are related or carried out by the same actor, many of them leveraged off-the-shelf malware to execute the attacks.


Two themes in the article particularly stood out:

  • Many attacks leveraged “off-the-shelf malware”
  • The attacks were executed by a “healthy and growing cybercrime industry”

The article concluded:

We believe these breaches will have long-lasting repercussions. We expect to see changes to security approaches and compliance mandates and, of course, lawsuits. But the big lesson is that we face a healthy and growing cybercrime industry which played a key role in enabling and monetizing the results of these attacks.

Intruders are better prepared, more organized and better equipped than ever.  It’s a crazy world out there.  



Space Travel
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, March 17, 2014
4:34 pm


Regardless of how many times I see this photo or ones like it, the view is still awe-inspiring.  To look beyond the moon’s horizon to see our beautiful planet rising in the distance must have been a moving experience for the Apollo astronauts who took the first photos from that perspective.


Thanks, NASA!


#YJJ Architecture: Multi-level Feedback Control

Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, March 13, 2014
7:45 pm


Much of the discussion of the Internet of Things revolves around the myriad of intelligent sensors that can be used to collect data from almost anywhere (even pulse rate from your ear . But I really think the power of IoT will really be harnessed when data from all those sensors is used to make intelligent decisions and provide feedback control that improves the operation of whatever systems we are using.

I like to think of this in terms of Supervisory Control, a concept I first learned about and applied in implementing manufacturing and process control systems in the 1980’s.  Extrapolating that concept forward to the Internet of Things, I like to use the following diagram as a framework for discussion.



Three levels of control are illustrated in this diagram:

1. Device Control

Each individual intelligent device may collect data from multiple sensors and exert control over the device.  

For example, in a Yellow Jeep or other modern vehicle, the Engine Control Unit (ECU) depends on both sensors and actuators to control engine function. The following diagram illustrates how various input sensor are used by the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) to control various actuators (e.g. igniter, injector) and generate operator alerts (e.g. Check Engine Light).



2. Gateway or Subsystem Supervisory Control

Gateways or subsystem controllers may be used to aggregate data from multiple devices and provide subsystem-level supervisory control over those devices. 

For example, in the Yellow Jeep example, a video subsystem may aggregate video feeds from multiple cameras while providing synchronized control over video zoom, pan and tilt functions.



3. Overall Supervisory Control

As data is gathered from various subsystems into the Cloud, that data can certainly be ingested and stored for historical analysis and visualization, but real time analysis of that data could be used to coordinate may subordinate systems.  

For example, what if an army of Yellow Jeeps were exploring different parts of the world at the same time?  Each of these Jeeps may have one or more subsystems that collect data and perform their own local supervisory control functions.  However, data collected from all those Jeeps could be analyzed in the cloud in real time and fed back to the individual Jeeps to control how they are operated.  I’m not sure just what that supervisory control might be, but it is worthy of exploration.



Please let me know what you think.

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!


#YJJ Architecture: Heart Rate Monitor?

Yellow Jeep Journey, YJJ Architecture
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, March 13, 2014
5:46 pm


When I posted my thoughts about how to instrument my Yellow Jeep, Ricardo Diaz, an Oracle colleague, offered a great recommendation for extra instrumentation via a LinkedIn message:

Heart beat monitor sensor with GPS SMS alerting for concerned fathers.

I’ve rolled a Jeep once. A slow roll off a sand dune in Florida. My heart jumped out of the Jeep before me!

Well, Ricardo, here’s an idea I found on the web – a pulse rate sensor you can clip to your ear!  Certainly we should be able to capture that rate and generate an appropriate alert when things get hairy in the jeep!

Pulse1 Pulse2

The Pulse Sensor team introduces the sensor this way:

Pulse Sensor Amped is a greatly improved version of our original Pulse Sensor, a plug-and-play heart-rate sensor for Arduino.  It can be used by students, artists, athletes, makers, and game & mobile developers who want to easily incorporate live heart-rate data into their projects.  

Maybe it could also be used by a Yellow Jeep guy!  We might even start rating Jeep trails by the high heart rates they cause!

Roll on Yellow Jeep Journey!

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