Pentair and Pigeon Point - A match made in modular standards heaven?

2In a July 31st press release, Pentair announced that it had acquired Pigeon Point Systems (PPS), a leading vendor of management solutions for standards-based platforms such as AdvancedTCA (ATCA), MicroTCA (mTCA), and VPX. In this Q&A with Volker Haag, Vice President of Product Management, Pentair Electronics Protection, and Mark Overgaard, Founder and CTO of Pigeon Point Systems, the two provide background on the deal, explain how the PPS portfolio helps augment Pentair’s existing offerings, and shed light on the implications of the union for the standards-based development community.

Give us a little bit of background behind Pentair’s recent acquisition of Pigeon Point Systems.

HAAG: Pigeon Point Systems was already a close partner of Pentair Electronics Protection, especially with respect to Pentair’s well-known line of Schroff-branded ATCA shelves, which have long integrated the Pigeon Point Shelf Manager.

Acquisitions are a vital part of Pentair’s strategy. We pursue and select value-enhancing acquisitions that complement our current businesses, strengthen our market position, and/or broaden our geographic reach and capabilities. The acquisition [of PPS] accelerates our Electronics Protection strategy by expanding our position in monitoring and control. It provides Pentair with several new dynamic product lines for growth and complements our Schroff-branded chassis and systems nicely.

We are especially excited to have a stronger opportunity to integrate management awareness into basic embedded systems across a variety of markets and applications. Of course, communications and other critical embedded markets are already aware of the importance of management and increasingly demanding standards-compliant or standards-based management features, so those markets are particularly ripe for these combined offerings. Pigeon Point Systems enhances Pentair’s position in communications and other critical embedded markets by providing a broader product portfolio. Pentair is committed to supporting our customers and their needs globally. Our goal is to offer the most innovative basic embedded systems, including monitoring and communication modules, to all of our customers.

As Pigeon Point Systems integrates into Pentair, we remain focused on delivering high-quality products, continued innovation, superior expertise, and the valuable services our customers have come to expect from the two organizations. Additionally, because the products and services are complementary, we do not foresee major customer impacts. Minimizing such potential impacts will also remain a top priority for the integration process.

Specifically, how does Pentair plan to leverage Pigeon Point’s existing offerings?

HAAG: We don’t expect reductions in the product offerings of the combined companies; in fact, the offerings may well expand. For instance, we now have an opportunity for a broader offering of Schroff-branded basic embedded systems that are management-enabled. Furthermore, customers will continue to have the option to purchase the Schroff Pigeon Point management components separately, not just bundled in a complete solution. An example is the Schroff Pigeon Point Shelf Manager that will continue to be available for integration into a customer’s own ATCA or ATCA-based shelf products, whether or not those shelf products are Schroff-branded.

OVERGAARD: The Schroff Pigeon Point management products are already being used in both standards-based and extended or custom management architectures. This is a great fit with a key strength of Pentair Electronics Protection: offering a comprehensive range of standard products together with broad and deep competence in customizing such products to the needs of a particular customer.

In addition to Schroff-branded chassis and systems, Pigeon Point Systems supported a variety of other vendors as well. This will remain a vital part of our partnership strategy. We have already started to talk to these partners about ongoing and future projects.

Can you speak to any upcoming developments or announcements based on the buy? What should engineers be looking for out of Pentair in the next 12-18 months?

OVERGAARD: The only upcoming development that can be mentioned now is the commitment to deliver, in Schroff Pigeon Point management products, compliance with the IPv6 awareness measures that are being defined in the PICMG Hardware Platform Management subcommittee. That subcommittee was initiated within PICMG by Pigeon Point Systems and is now chaired by Pentair Pigeon Point. Compliance with IPv6-aware PICMG 3.0 (the ATCA base specification) is already being delivered in the Schroff Pigeon Point Shelf Manager, and will be delivered in the Microsemi SmartFusion-based board-level management solution by the end of 2015. Corresponding support for the IPv6-aware PICMG HPM.2 and HPM.3 specification revisions (which are currently under development by the subcommittee) will happen also, with a timeline to be announced when the specifications are adopted.

Sidebar 1: Engineering Change Notices add IPv6 support to extend management, reduce maintenance

In your opinion, where does this leave platform management for VITA and PICMG standards?

OVERGAARD: The platform management ecosystems for PICMG and VITA standards are strengthened by this deal. The management offerings of Pigeon Point Systems are continuing, backed by the substantial resources of a long-time active and successful participant in the markets for equipment built to these standards.

HAAG: Pentair remains committed to active participation in the standards communities that affect its Schroff-branded products. The addition of Pentair Pigeon Point management experts allows that participation to broaden and deepen. Pentair Pigeon Point’s management standards expertise is just one of many key values that this acquisition adds to Pentair.

What is the new frontier in standards-based embedded computing?

OVERGAARD: We are pleased and proud to note that we are already delivering a Schroff Pigeon Point Shelf Manager that complies with the just-adopted IPv6 additions to AdvancedTCA, the first company to do so. We believe that ATCA- and MicroTCA-based systems, as well as their management-aware counterparts in the VPX market, have a long future ahead of them and we look forward to supporting that future. Furthermore, we’re confident that standards-based management awareness is a winning and increasingly required feature for embedded computing platforms. We are actively working with customers to identify their requirements for future standards-based embedded systems, including management-related aspects.

Volker Haag is Vice President, Global Systems Category and Innovation at Pentair Electronics Protection.

Mark Overgaard is Architect, System Management at Pentair, formerly Founder and CTO of Pigeon Point Systems.

Pentair Electronics Protection

Pigeon Point Systems