Robert Sordillo

by Natalie Miller • @natalieatWIS

Efficient companies seek visibility and relevancy in the Internet of Things

A Q&A with Robert Sordillo, Chief Technology Officer at Avada Software

Published July 15, 2014


The Internet of Things (IoT) gives organizations the infinite ability to offer consumers new services, from the connected car to appliances that monitor their own maintenance needs. Yet these expansions can cause operational headaches on the back end with increased infrastructure and workforce costs.

Companies need to have more horsepower, more network speed, and a bigger workforce to oversee the rapidly growing IoT. Avada Software’s flagship product, Infrared360™, brings visibility into the process to help organizations manage and monitor these many endpoints in their middleware environments without additional workforce costs.

Through trusted spaces and the ability to offload work from the administrator to the user, employees can perform their work without having to create an operational bottleneck and better manage the growing number of endpoints that are a part of the IoT.

In this Q&A, Robert Sordillo, Chief Technology Officer at Avada Software, explains the challenges that the IoT presents to organizations and how companies can gain visibility into these extra endpoints through improved management and monitoring on the back end.

Insights Magazine: Where do most companies lack visibility within their middleware environments and how is this affecting the business?

Robert Sordillo: I would say most companies lack the visibility and/or capability to manage distinct middleware software products in one solution as opposed to managing each solution as a distinct offering. Companies have [IBM] WebSphere AS, WebSphere MQ, and Integration Bus, and have different products and management/support groups for each one. This solution will not scale very well in the IoT world. Service and the workforce will suffer as a result. Infrared360™ is a management monitoring tool for various endpoints such as app servers, WebSphere MQ, and WebSphere [Message] Broker, which is now [IBM Integration Bus], works as a single-server installation that can fit in an organization’s existing environment, and has the capability to combine the management and monitoring of these products into a common solution.

IM: The IoT concept seems to offer so many interconnections to manage, from systems to applications to devices to networks. What are the challenges that administrators face when trying to monitor the various services in their network?

Sordillo: The IoT is obviously allowing for more endpoints with the goal of allowing people to access those endpoints. That’s a great thing for the end user because now he can basically connect to many more and different things. For the person who is actually managing the IoT, this creates a big problem because now you have to worry about, “Well now am I going to have the machines that can handle the load of the additional endpoints? Am I going to have the network?” And third and most important is, “Do I have the people to maintain all these new endpoints?” Because these could be exponential endpoints; you’re talking IoT. It could be thousands upon thousands. This sounds great to the end user, but to the person that’s implementing it, you’re going to run into the problem of who’s going to manage this, who’s going to maintain it—again, machine power, network speed, all that comes into play that the regular user doesn’t think about—how we’re going to provide all this stuff. 

You really need all three things: the machines, the network, and the workforce—the people to basically make sure everything is working properly and that people are happy with it. So those are the challenges. Infrared360™ offers the advantage of not having to add additional workforce to manage more endpoints because, again, with Infrared360™ you can add endpoints in minutes. So you can say, “I just created another new endpoint for the IoT, I’m going to add it to IR and click a couple buttons, monitor it,” and you’re off and running. The workforce doesn’t necessarily have to grow as exponentially as the endpoints exponentially grow, because Infrared360™ should be able to handle, point, manage, and monitor that endpoint pretty much instantly.

IM: What exactly is “the Internet of relevant things™” and what are the greatest benefits organizations can gain from focusing on this?

Sordillo: Obviously we’re talking about the capability to add more endpoints or more things that talk to each other and provide more access to services. It kind of reminds me of the old days, when Java first started out. The vision of Java, if you go back to where Java began, was that one day your refrigerator would talk to your toaster and talk to your oven and everything would be automated. The IoT is basically that capability of proving out this system of things that can talk to each other. For instance, today they have refrigerators that will tell you if they need maintenance. The relevance of this is that [companies] are providing services to customers, convenient services. The question, from an organizational standpoint, is that some of these services will be at no cost, but others will charge a cost to those services. Organizations can generate more revenue based on if they are providing a cost service. They give you a baseline of a service and say, “If you want these extra things it is $8 a month,” or something like that. To an organization, they’re providing more services to a customer and making the customer happy, and it can also open up another revenue path, too. Say you’ve got all these great services and if you want to expand them. Then you can add additional enhancement to these services.

IM: What steps should organizations take when considering how to apply this idea of the Internet of relevant things™ into their systems?

Sordillo: What you’re trying to do in the IoT is create more access to more things. With that comes the whole cost of your infrastructure and the cost of your workforce to maintain that infrastructure. When you’re setting up something or the concept of IoT, you have to consider the cost versus the benefit of doing it. Are you going to provide more access to IoT? What’s going to be the cost of doing that because, again, you have machines, network, and workforce? If you’re going to add all these things and add all these extra expenses, how are you going to regain that money back or are you willing to absorb that cost to provide a better service to your customers? It’s always a fine line—do you absorb the cost to keep customers that you currently have or do you try to generate more revenue by saying you’re going to incur this initial cost, but you’re going to eventually tack on a service fee for additional services that you’re going to offer through this whole IoT?

IM: I understand you were a key part of the development team for the Infrared360™ technology. What was the initial business issue that you were trying to solve with this technology?

Sordillo: Originally the business issue came about when I was down at an IBM testing facility for a bank. They were testing their broker code for performance reasons and using a command line way to generate simple messages—MQ messages—and I was amazed that they were testing the broker system of a bank that’s worth billions of dollars with simple messages. That was the only way that they could do it, using the console and basically creating simple messages. I thought you could provide a solution that would generate messages that are more complex and more relevant to the company, because the messages that [the bank] was generating to actually generate load didn’t really apply to the actual application.

How Infrared360™ started out was the fact that I wanted to build a message testing system that would allow you to build more complex messages. Then you could say, “Now I have a bunch of complex messages, I’m going to pump a million messages through the pipes and see how it actually performs.”

We started out as a message tester type product, but then the ecosystem started to grow and we started to add in what we call trusted spaces, which is the ability to give people isolated access to resources and to endpoints. Then we started to build services in the product to provide a service-based architecture, and then alerting, and from there it grew to more of what it is today, which is actually a management and monitoring system that also provides a testing facility.

IM: What considerations and methods were involved in creating a product that provides the visibility businesses need into their middleware environment?

Sordillo: What we wanted to provide in Infrared360™ is easy access to important data. That also includes not just data, but resources and endpoints that contain data. So we built what we phrase as trusted spaces, and this is the whole notion of being able to say to this particular user that, “Hey, I’m going to allow you to see these resources or these endpoints; I’m going to allow you to view them; I’m not going to allow you to delete anything; I’m just going to give you access that you need in a trusted space that I’ve made for you so you can do your work as opposed to bothering an administrator.” One of the core benefits of Infrared360™ is to alleviate the work that an administrator does for other people. For example, an employee is working on a project and needs to be able to view certain items in the system.  If the administrator has all the power, the end user has to say, “Hey, can you tell me what’s there?” And the administrator says, “I’ll get back to you in two hours and I’ll give you that answer.” What Avada does is create these trusted spaces to allow the employee to look at it without the need to call an administrator. So the administrator is happy and the end user is happy, because they both work more efficiently now that they don’t have to interact at the exact same time. The administrator might have more important things to work on, and what you want to do is not have to bog the administrator down with these nonessential-type problems. You want to let him work on production problems or work on different schemes as opposed to dealing with things that are simplistic.

Another major consideration was the architecture that we created for Infrared360™. It’s a single-server deployment, which makes it easy to get up and running quickly. There are no agents involved. We wanted to make it so when you put it in your particular environment that it is a pleasant experience. You don’t have to rip up the whole environment. Just drop it into your system application server environment, start it up, and you're ready to go.

IM: Avada's website notes that Infrared360™ was developed from a business point of view rather than the topological view that has shaped other monitoring and collaboration products. How has this point of view created a product that is distinct in the market?

Sordillo: The Infrared360™ design and development approach tackles the whole development process. We don’t approach the development process by saying we think our customers are going to need this and we’re going to tell the customers this is how you should run your business, which is what we hear from a lot of customers about a lot of other vendors. When we develop things, we listen to the customer and they tell us how they run their business, and we design a solution around that. Eighty percent of the development we do with Infrared360™ is based on our customers telling us how they do things and what would make their lives easier. The other 20 percent is innovative stuff. We try to create things that the customer might not have envisioned because what they see in their environment is how to get the job done currently, today, and not worry about how to get it done five years from now. It’s a whole mindset approach in how we tackle our development. Our “trusted spaces” was designed around the demand for the line of business needing limited access to information relevant to only them without the need of the administrator to give them the keys to the kingdom.

IM: What are the security measures that Infrared360™ offers?

Sordillo: Again, we coined the phrase “trusted spaces,” and it’s basically the capability of putting people into groups that allow visibility into different endpoints. So you might have thousands of endpoints and thousands of resources, and this particular user or this particular group of users might only need to see a very small portion of that and you only want to allow them to see a very small portion of that and you only want to give them certain rights to that very small portion. We group for visibility and we use these roles to define what is done by each group. The trusted space allows employees to only see a small piece of the overall picture of the whole environment. That way, when they log onto the system, they only see that small space. We don’t give them any kind of realization that there’s another thousand things out there. They just work in their small environment and the administrators can control what they actually see and what they can actually do.

IM: What’s in store for the future in regards to this solution?

Sordillo: We’re continuing with the customer-focused aspect. Another thing that we’re doing is we’re spanning different types of endpoints. Currently we have endpoint capabilities into application servers, such as WAS, WebLogic, JBoss, and Tomcat. We provide access into WebSphere MQ, TIBCO, and Integration Bus. We provide all these different endpoints and each endpoint is different, so we are continuing to expand our endpoint capabilities to different types of technologies to add more and more robustness to the endpoints that are possible to connect to. With Infrared360, we have the ability to combine data between these diverse systems, you can basically pull data from one endpoint, let’s say from WebSphere, and then pull data from, let’s say Broker, and combine this data together to create new data based on the two pieces of data that were completely different from each other. What we want to do is extend that more and provide live application flow diagrams that allow people to actually see what’s going on in their ecosystem in a live fashion between all disparate systems. We’re going that route, and we are still keeping in mind the IoT and making sure our system is as easy as possible. Again, it’s easy enough to add endpoints, but we are getting ready for when more people start doing IoT and say, “I don’t have enough people to maintain this. How am I going to monitor all these additional endpoints? How am I going to manage it?” They will need people to go in there and maintain these things. So we’re always thinking ahead of that to say, “Okay, when this does happen, let’s be prepared for that.”

For more information about Avada Software, visit



No one has commented on this item.