PEOPLE | Jan 12, 2017

FIWARE: the platform that shares “smart solutions” among enterprises. Interview with Pearse O’Donohue

FIWARE defines useful standards to realize and share portable and interoperable solutions for businesses and industries

Pearse O’Donohue is the Acting Director for Future Networks and Head of Unit for Cloud & Software at DG CONNECT in the European Commission, where he is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of policy on cloud computing and on software and services.

Until the end of October 2014, Pearse was Deputy Head of Cabinet of Vice-President Neelie Kroes, outgoing European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda. He was responsible for advising the Vice-President on the development and implementation of policy on electronic communications, networks and services, as well as broadband, spectrum and other related policies.

Prior to that, Pearse was Head of the Radio Spectrum Policy Unit in the European Commission, DG CONNECT. He was responsible for the development and implementation of policies for efficient spectrum use and a coordinated approach to frequency management in the EU. This also involved the development of spectrum harmonisation measures in the electronic communications field, including the digital dividend, and in other internal market sectors such as transport and research.

How do you think to put in practice the promotion and dissemination of the outcomes of the FI-PPP?

The European Commission launched the Future Internet Public-Private Partnership Programme in 2011 to tackle challenges in the areas of technology, business, society and governance that will have to be overcome if the future development of the Internet is to sustain the networked society of tomorrow. The last phase of the FI-PPP, Phase 3, finished in September 2016 and the results are ready to be used and ready for the ongoing FIWARE go-to-market strategy.

It is important to stress the peculiarity of the approach that FI-PPP used when compared with other Public-Private Partnerships, which focused on building and expanding the open-source core platform, creating specific tools and leading to an SME-driven development. Even after the PPP, the FIWARE project continues to advance the global competitiveness of the EU economy by introducing an innovative infrastructure for cost-effective creation and delivery of innovative Internet services, providing high Quality of Service and security guarantees.

FIWARE covers all the pressing issues developers face today in relation to cloud, Internet of Things, big data, security and many more in an integrated environment easy to use. FIWARE keeps going strong with public events to enlarge the community and with the help of the new established FIWARE Foundation (founders: Atos, Engineering, Orange and Telefónica – editor’s note), to help achieving its mission by promoting, augmenting, protecting, and validating the FIWARE technologies as well as the activities of the FIWARE community, empowering its members including end users, developers and other stakeholders in the entire ecosystem.

From your perspective, what are the strongest aspects that will lead FIWARE to a potential market success?

FIWARE has gained relevance as the vendor-neutral, open-source platform technology defining standards that make it possible for all types of businesses and industries to build and share portable and interoperable smart solutions around the globe.

One strong aspect that differentiates FIWARE from its main competitors is the advantage of being an open and royalty-free platform, with a standard definition and with reference implementations. It is easy to combine with legacy system and other technologies.

The FIWARE programme is not only about providing open technology alternatives but also about creating an open innovation ecosystem that brings better opportunities to all the stakeholders. For instance , as part of the FIWARE programme, we have the FIWARE Lab, which is a working instance of the FIWARE platform made available for free experimentation, a place where application providers and service developers can develop and test their applications with real data and users. The FIWARE labs, as well as the ongoing FIWARE go-to-market strategy, are up and running globally, promoting FIWARE around the world and enabling the local FIWARE ecosystems to flourish.

How do you see the role of the FIWARE Foundation?

The main mission of the FIWARE Foundation is to develop an open sustainable ecosystem around public, royalty-free and implementation-driven software platform standards that will ease the creation of Smart Applications in multiple sectors. The role of the FIWARE Foundation, now that it has been officially instituted, is to guarantee and protect FIWARE in broad terms, as well as to enlarge FIWARE’s footprint in terms of adopter’s engagement.

The FIWARE Foundation is the legal independent body providing shared resources to help achieving the FIWARE mission by promoting, augmenting, protecting, and validating the FIWARE technologies as well as the activities of the FIWARE community, empowering its members including end users, developers and other stakeholders in the entire ecosystem. The FIWARE Foundation is open: anybody can join contributing to a transparent governance of FIWARE activities and rising through the ranks, based on merit.

From your perspective, what are the expectations risen by FIWARE for the market?

FIWARE possesses several marketable features that ensure its success and success for the industry and companies using it: the FIWARE platform is very easy to use, with great advantages over existing platforms for application in several areas, like smart cities. This infrastructure facilitates developers, service providers and private or public organizations provide online services thanks to its open source architecture and also a set of open specifications.

FIWARE is a free and open technology that becomes very quick to be adopted, with little to no adoption time. The FIWARE technology used for example for Smart Cities is open source, and helps cities avoid vendor lock-in, protecting their investment and providing real-time context information describing what is going in in the city. FIWARE is also a major vector for digitising European industry, a fast and cheap alternative for startups, SMEs and industry.

What is the role of the European Commission to push the adoption of FIWARE results in the real market?

FIWARE has been developed by leading European industry and hi-tech SMEs. It is a cutting edge product; however this is far from guaranteeing any market success.

A key market will be the public sector, where open technologies are making inroads. It is very important for us, that FIWARE becomes a reference of successful public procurement. Here our main role is to close the gap between FIWARE available and actually used in procurement projects. A key point here is the ongoing standardisation work in ETSI.

The open character of the platform is its main selling point in the market and the European Commission’s involvement in FIWARE will be gradually replaced by the FIWARE Foundation, which will promote, protect, and validate the FIWARE technologies as well as the activities of the FIWARE community.