GR-based OST earns distinguished IoT designation


Open Systems Technologies became one of only a handful of companies in the world to achieve Amazon Web Services’ Internet of Things Competency status.

Amazon’s computing subsidiary, AWS, announced the Grand Rapids-based information technology firm successfully completed an almost yearlong approval process to become one of only 32 companies — and only 14 consulting firms — in the world to achieve “AWS IoT Competency” status. 

“AWS is a top company in the market, and to have them come in and look at our stories really validated our competency,” said Aaron Kamphuis, IoT and data analytics practice manager for OST. “One of the many arrows in our quiver is having those stories on how OST can help customers meet their goals.”

Achieving the AWS IoT Competency means OST is an AWS Partner Network member that has demonstrated relevant technical proficiency for AWS products and services. To receive the designation, APN Partners must possess deep AWS expertise and undergo an assessment of the security, performance and reliability of their solutions.

OST works with business customers to bring together strategy and insights, digital experiences, connected products, hybrid IT and managed services to help grow their businesses.

Kamphuis said OST did not start out with the ambition of being an AWS IoT partner, but the company found its way into the space when more of its customers began to leverage AWS technology.

“We did well with their technology, and we showed a broad enough competency in terms of getting certifications,” he said.

OST customer Amway is one example of the company’s ability to quickly leverage AWS technology. Everette Binger, chief IoT solutions architect at Amway, said the jump to connected products was a new frontier for both companies.

Almost two years ago, Amway, in partnership with OST, launched its first IoT connected product: the Atmosphere Sky air purifier.

“We took our existing air treatment system and made improvements to it,” Binger said. “We were going through the revamp, and with that, we decided to add connectivity.”

OST worked with Amway on a four-month evaluation of different IoT platforms, ultimately choosing AWS IoT.

The Atmosphere Sky sends information via a phone app to the user regarding the quality of the air within a specific area. The app also provides an easy way to reorder filters, streamlining the use and maintenance of the product.

Binger added having an IoT-connected product means Amway also benefits from data sharing to ensure its product works as advertised.

“We have insights into not only how the product is functioning but also how people are using the product,” Binger said. “For example, we gather statistics about motor speed, errors, voltages and so on, which tell us how well our air-treatment units are operating in the field. We also collect information about users’ interactions with our mobile application in order to improve that offering.”

He added the Atmosphere Sky also was among the first products to leverage AWS’ ECC508 encryption chip for secure data sharing.

“The biggest fear is we need to know we’re communicating with it and, at the same time, that device needs to know that when it connects with a platform it connects to Amway’s platform,” Binger said.

Michael Lomonaco, OST director of marketing and communications, said part of the value of AWS IoT Competency is being able to stand out in a space where IoT is becoming a buzzword.

“In this space, there’s a lot of noise right now,” Lomonaco said. “There are a lot of startups who are taking advantage of connected products and experiences. With companies like Amway and even smaller startups … being able to hit the ground running with them and have their trust is really important.”

Lomonaco referred to a 2017 survey from Cisco, a global technology conglomerate, that found nearly three-fourths of all projects to develop an IoT-connected product fail.

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