Founded in Appiano, Italy in 2003 by a team of experienced network specialists and security enthusiasts. Endian’s goal is clear: Develop the world’s most powerful and easy-to-use open source Secure Digital IoT, UTM and Hotspot platforms.

Interview with Raphael Vallazza, Founder & CEO of Endian.

Easy Engineering: Tell us a short story about innovation in your company.

Raphael Vallazza: Innovation at Endian is driven by two key motivators: Security and simplicity. We have the goal of making the digital transformation secure and thus providing a contribution to the digitized society. Consequently, all of our products are developed according to the principle “security-by-design”. This means that security is already taken into account during development and throughout the entire life cycle. Our second driver is simplicity. Although cyber security is highly complex, we want to make the products as simple as possible for the user. We are convinced that the products that offer an optimal user experience are the ones that ultimately prevail. 

E.E: Which are the most significant projects from 2023?

R.V: The most important project was to create a secure way of collecting data for a manufacturer of machines used in critical infrastructure, by using the Edge Computing capabilities of our Gateways via Docker. Demand in this area is increasing enormously and for good reason: only companies that are able to analyze their data in a reasonable way and use the results for their own benefit will be able to remain globally competitive in the long term. For this reason, we consider this project to be particularly important. We have also gained significant lessons for further projects of this kind and can therefore support our customers with their challenges.

E.E: What projects were the most challenging?

R.V: A global plastics manufacturer asked us for support in networking its globally distributed systems. The aim was to connect and protect their global infrastructure to carry out remote maintenance and collect data in order to make production more effective.  At the same time the goal was to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, thereby improving the sustainability of its operations. This involved networking several hundred production lines spread across 15 countries and 4 continents. Our solution ultimately succeeded in achieving all the customer’s goals.

E.E: What products / solutions were used in the projects?

R.V: Both projects involve the use of our Endian Secure Digital Platform, which can network distributed IT and OT devices. This platform offers an unparalleled high level of cyber security and provides secure remote access to all connected devices. At the same time, it allows customers to easily set up a “Zero Trust Architecture” and manage highly granular rights and authorizations. In addition, customers can use this platform to run individual enterprise software or applications via Edge Computing, which is another plus point for many industrial companies that have already invested a lot of time and effort in projects that make production more effective.

E.E: What are the usual challenges you encounter? 

R.V: No digitization project starts from scratch, this means that usually we start with a “Brownfield” environment. In every company, there are systems and machines that were in operation long before the digital age and that need to be networked. While an IT device is considered obsolete after 5 years is replaced, machines in industry are sometimes in use for decades. They often use different and outdated operating systems like Windows 7, XP, or even older or do not have the necessary connectivity to link to the Internet. From a cyber security perspective, however, all machines must be secured with the latest technology that is continuously updated. Achieving this balancing act is a challenge every time.

E.E: How did you overcome the challenges?

R.V: Our Endian Secure Digital Platform consists of two parts, the industrial IoT security gateways and the Switchboard, which is the central management tool that allows the easy implementation of a “Zero Trust Architecture”. By placing a gateway ahead of the machine, you can equip it with the latest cybersecurity software, establish the necessary connectivity and set up secure remote access. The Switchboard then makes it possible to keep an eye on the networks by offering monitoring capabilities and managing rights and authorizations. This includes everything you need to get started with digitalization. 

E.E: Which are the most innovative products/solutions in your lineup?

R.V: Our IoT security gateway Endian 4i Edge XL, which was launched on the market last year. It has strong computing power and therefore offers the best prerequisites for edge computing, which provides many advantages to the customer: Edge Computing capabilities via Docker that for example allow data to be collected from the machines and be analyzed on site so that only the results need to be forwarded to a cloud. Therefore, edge computing offers more security since less data needs to be transferred. At the same time, it saves costs. Customers understand these advantages and are making more and more intensive use of the possibilities of edge computing. This means that our device has struck a nerve.

Another innovative component of our products/solutions is EndianOS, our Secure Operating Systems that powers all of our appliances and is able to run on our hardware as well as third party hardware or cloud environments. This allows customers and OEMs to secure all of their IT- and OT-environments, being them on premise or in cloud. Digital Transformation requires very flexible solutions to secure highly distributed and critical environments, our goal is to provide the most innovative and yet simple solution to manage this complexity. 

E.E: What was the research behind the products/solutions?

R.V: We cooperate with the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, which operates the “Smart Mini Factory”, a learning laboratory for Industry 4.0. Our products are used there and we immediately see the technical challenges and the benefits for our users and customers. We have also been working on the digitalization of industrial companies since 2011 and have gained a lot of experience since then. 

E.E: What problems / challenges do users usually encounter?

R.V: Most industrial users are proven experts in their field, but usually know little about the IT implications of an OT environment and the risks that arise as soon as they interconnect  their systems. Thanks to over 10 years of experience in the Industry 4.0 environment, we understand both sides – IT and OT – very well and can properly deal with their challenges, providing effective products and solutions. Another point is that users are under cost and time pressure. Digitalization solutions must therefore be quick to implement and deliver results.

E.E: How are your products / solutions used in solving user’s problems?

R.V: Let’s take a look at the issue of cost pressure, for example: there are companies that have already invested in networking and have purchased new hardware for this purpose. Now they are realizing that they need to improve their cyber security if they don’t want to be hit by a cyberattack. We have developed the Endian 4i Software that can be used to transform any suitable hardware, such as an x86-based industrial PC for example, into an IoT security gateway. This means that users can continue to use their existing hardware, like an industrial PC, which is a very sustainable solution. Further, they do not have to wait for new hardware to be delivered and at the same time they are protected against cyberattacks.

E.E: What are your forecasts for 2024?

R.V: Regulations will increase and force companies to take the issue of cybersecurity seriously. By October 2024, every EU country must have transposed the NIS Directive into national law. Companies are therefore well advised to deal with the requirements now, as they are very extensive. In addition, the EU Machinery Regulation will have to be implemented by 2027. It sets a legal framework that defines the requirements for machinery in the European Union to ensure the safety of users and other persons involved. 

Of course, these regulations mean a lot of work for companies at first, but they serve the purpose of making the Internet a safe place and companies benefit greatly from this.