VTT is a state-owned, non-profit company in Finland whose goal is to provide technical research and innovation services for domestic and international customers. Senior scientist Ilkka Niskanen explained to us why VTT is eager to get certified.
Two added features for their connector
The connector solution they apply to get certified for is based on the Dataspace Connector, an IDS connector reference implementation, but has two additional features. The first concerns the machine-to-machine communication protocol (OPCUA) widely used in various industries to integrate hardware and connect different systems. Companies often need to share this protocol with partner companies and are looking for a secure way of doing so. VTT added the ability to support this OPCUA standard to their connector. An example is Konecranes, a Finnish manufacturing company that supplies cranes to various factories. At times, they may need to share their OPCUA machine data across company borders and that is when they can use the extension of the connector to do so securely.
The second feature VTT added allows to manage user access. For some organizations, it is not enough to regulate access to data for entire companies or departments, but they want to restrict access to data resources on an individual level. The data provider should be able to define the individuals who are allowed to log in and access the data. Both extensions to the connector are based on VTT’s experiences cooperating with companies.
Finnish Data Spaces Innovation Lab
VTT also provides the Data Spaces Innovation Lab, a place and a service for Finish companies to try and test technology. They can utilize the lab to build their own IDS Connector solutions. Or they can test their existing solution, including to perform compatibility tests. In general, VTT wants to improve their position as an IDS expert organization in Finland.
For Ilkka, it is very important to be able to say, “We were one of the first to get the certification! Our connector is one you can trust!” Sometimes, companies come to VTT and inquire if their connector really complies with the IDS reference architecture: “Can we be sure that you guys know what you are doing?” The external review of their connector is critical. “We should highlight it when we communicate with our collaboration partners.” And since VTT is also the IDSA hub facilitator in Finland, Ilkka emphasizes, “we should be able to say that we really know this technology.” There are IDSA hubs in various countries that share basic knowledge on the ideas and concepts of IDS in their countries.
Certification as a problem solver
Data spaces are one of the key enablers of a fair data economy. Certification is an important step towards creating this kind of trusted data space. “They help us to solve some of the biggest challenges we collectively face – such as sustainability.” For now, VTT is fine-tuning a few things, then the official application process can begin. Ilkka concludes the interview by saying confidently, “I don’t foresee any problems.”
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