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Subject: RE: [smartgrid-interest] Draft Charter - Energy Market Information Exchange

Hi Brian, I had to think about this for a day! Perhaps my statements are going to cause a heated debate, but, here I go:


I really do not see why everything has to communicate IP. What’s wrong with having devices communicate in their own native languages and over their desired (most optimal) media? What do we gain by having all devices communicate IP if – and as you (Brian) suggested – we do not first come up with the abstract model? We have a hammer?


With kind regards,



Michel Kohanim, C.E.O

Universal Devices, Inc.


(p) 818.631.0333

(f) 818.708.0755




From: Brian Frank [mailto:brian@skyfoundry.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:11 AM
To: smartgrid-interest@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: Re: [smartgrid-interest] Draft Charter - Energy Market Information Exchange


Couple of my thoughts since Toby cross-posted some of my oBIX ideas...

I don't suspect that many in this group need to be convinced that technologies like 6LoWPAN create the opportunity to communicate IP all the way out to the edge.  In fact, it is hard to imagine using anything but IP for communication these days - even for sub $10 devices (legacy devices excluded of course).

But just because a 6LoWPAN device speaks IP doesn't necessarily mean that it going to run a SOAP stack:
  - These are typically sub-3$ dollar microprocessors with less than 100KB of memory
  - Low end wireless networks don't run TCP well,  only UDP; this means common techniques for end-to-end security such as TLS are not available
  - Payload size on a 6LoWPAN packet is ideally less than ~80 bytes
  - 6LoWPAN nodes spend most of their time sleeping which makes communication difficult

But these are all surmountable problems if you define an information model which works well end-to-end.  Translating between protocols (HTTP-to-UDP) is pretty easy.  Translating between data encodings is also easy (XML-to-Binary).  But translating between data models is really, really hard and almost always results in a degradation of information.

So my perspective is that the most important task is define the abstract model.  Then you can apply different protocols and encoding as needed as long as everyone is working off the same basic ontology. 

This is exactly what oBIX does.  It defines a very simple, but powerful meta-model for building models.  The oBIX meta-model is based on type theory that embraces the notion that modeling the real-world is a messy and inexact science.  But it turns out to work really well for simple sensors all the way up to million point SCADA systems.


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