Formant is known as a leader in cloud-based robotic fleet management. From its inception, the company built the solution as a cloud-based solution that can be interfaced from any web browser in a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
This cloud-based architecture works great for organizations that allow connection between the internet and their manufacturing floor. An internet connection is critical for robots-as-a-service (RaaS) based solutions. Many RaaS solutions leverage Formant as a tool to manage the fleet of robots.
However, this architecture doesn’t work for every potential customer. In many manufacturing facilities, network access on the manufacturing floor is limited or the bandwidth is constrained. This limits remote access to robotic systems on the floor.
Likewise, some secure facilities are air-gapped, without any external internet access for manufacturing systems. A company may choose this network architecture to maximize security and eliminate hacking potential.
As a result, Formant Platform is now available for deployment on-premise (on prem). This decision follows the reverse path taken by earlier enterprise software solutions that initially started as on-prem only deployments, and then migrated to a clould-based or software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution.
To deliver the solution on-prem, Formant needed to containerize its cloud-based infrastructure into a deployable architecture that can be hosted within a company’s internal data center.
How does it work?
On-premise Formant is a fully-contained version of Formant that can be deployed on your own servers. It provides all of the core functionality of the Formant platform, including:
- Live and historical observability of the robot and its environment. Ingestion of telemetry like numerics, maps, json, videos, and 3D data such as point clouds, joint_state and transforms.
- Command and control the robots remotely by teleoperation, relocalization or sending remote commands
- Enable more efficient tech support by utilizing the timeline and events workflow
- Connect to your workflow productivity tools to understand the performance of the application.
- Where applicable, extract, transform and/or export your data to your internal or external storage systems for further analysis.
While self-hosting any application will come with the additional overhead of managing and maintaining the deployment, there are a number of benefits of self-hosted Formant, including:
- Ability to conform to security/compliance requirements
- Ability to use platform on a private network with limited or no internet access
- More control over application performance
- Flexibility around data and cloud providers for related services
Who benefits from Formant on-premise?
Many of Formant’s customers have internal requirements around air-gapped solutions, either due to security regulations, privacy concerns, or both.
Here are two example use cases for deploying Formant on-premise:
- An energy company deploys Formant on an air-gapped private network at a nuclear power plant to operate and observe devices for inspection while remaining secure.
- A robotics company runs Formant on-premise at a customer’s warehouse, allowing them to diagnose and fix issues with cleaning robots without walking across the 50,000 square foot warehouse.
Formant on-premise is part of our continued efforts to meet the needs of Enterprise companies as they scale up their robotic deployments. Other recent features that make Formant an ideal robotics platform for Enterprise organizations include role-based access control (RBAC), data export flexibility and top-tier security.
Editors note, this story originally appeared in a Formant blog article.