Is your production data stuck in a controller walled garden?

How to tell if a controller company wants to hold your data hostage. 

When choosing a controller company, pork producers have a lot of options these days. The cutting edge of controller technology is the connected smart controller. Smart controllers connect barns directly to the internet and offer users the ability to consume data and manage barn variables from anywhere using a web interface.

Of all the smart controllers on the market today, one can divide the field based on the approach to data sharing. On one side are controllers that have an open attitude and on the other is the "Walled Garden" approach—sometimes referred to as "Closed Platforms" or "closed ecosystems." 

You may never have heard the term “Walled Garden,” but if you own a cellphone, you have experienced one.

You may never have heard the term "Walled Garden," but if you own a cellphone, you have experienced one. Like the service your cellular carrier provides, a walled garden is a service that lords control over an application or infrastructure and the data or media it generates. Quite often, the company that manages the system limits convenient access to non-approved applications or content. Techopedia has this to say, "Although a walled garden offers easy navigation options, it is unpopular with many users because the content offered is limited and is only a part of what the Internet has to offer.”

Open environments give you the power of force multiplication by allowing you to integrate services you already use directly into the controller via API

If your controller easily connects to services that can both push and pull data automatically, then you probably have an open environment. Open environments give you the power of force multiplication by allowing you to integrate services you already use directly into the controller via API (application programming interface). Such integrations multiply the power of both the controller and the third-party product. A great example of an open controller infrastructure is the industry-leading AP EDGE. The EDGE system not only offers excellent hardware, its parent company AP (AGCO Corporation) takes an open approach to data sharing. Using the EDGE API, EveryPig can import sensor data directly from barns automatically. As such, the power of EDGE sensor tech is multiplied by the high-resolution data collected by users through the EveryPig platform. Future versions of this integration will provide a two-way street, both pushing and pulling data between the two systems.

A great example of an open controller infrastructure is the industry-leading AP EDGE.

Signs you are stuck in a walled controller garden:

  1. Your controller company will not permit integrations with third-party services via API

  2. Your controller company requires you to use their proprietary software if you want access to your data

  3. Your controller company offers what they call a "full suite" of both hardware and software solutions and won't let you connect other hardware or software

  4. It seems like the company's answer to all problems is to push you to buy more of their proprietary software and equipment


If you answered "yes" to two or more of the above, you might have a problem on your hands. Although a "walled garden" may sound like a compelling concept, in the world of controllers, things are beginning to move very fast. Considering trends in the consumer market, we can also expect in-barn tech to become more open to integration with existing hardware and software. The speed at which the industry is changing means the controller tech you buy today should be flexible for tomorrow's needs. Worryingly, closed systems tend towards slower innovation as companies must support both the hardware and the software in a perpetual feedback loop.

the question regarding open and closed environments boils down to who owns your data. Is it your data, or is it the controller company’s data?

Moreover, a "Walled Garden" means you're stuck with the equipment you have for the life of the product regardless of where the industry moves in the coming years. Also, ask yourself, "Am I comfortable relying on a single company for the "brains" of my production operation for the next decade?" Not to mention, what if the company stops supporting the hardware you buy today? The bottom line is, putting all your eggs in one walled-off controller basket is always a risky move.

Ultimately though, the question regarding open and closed environments boils down to who owns your data. Is it your data, or is it the controller company's data? It is our firm belief that you should own the data a controller collects. What's more, you should be able to share that data with other products and services at will. Secure data sharing, in our opinion, always trumps a closed ecosystem in the long run. 

Don't get stuck in a hostage crisis, choose a controller company that gives you full control over your data and what you do with it. Contact us to learn more about your rights if your data is stuck with a stubborn controller company. 

It’s your data, after all, make it work for you.

EveryPig integrations allow companies with smart controllers many efficiencies including:

  1. Time-saving. Streamlined data entry means field workers no longer have to double enter data on both a barn record and controller interface.

  2. Advanced-Data Processing. Controller data is sent directly to EveryPig, where our self-learning algorithms digest it and use it to help you to provide better care for the animals.

  3. Centralized Data Funneling. We funnel all crucial data into a centralized news feed (Farmfeed) where your team has access and can make actionable decisions. 

Contact us to learn more about how to make the most out of your data. It's your data, after all, make it work for you.


About the author
Nic Bartlett
EveryPig Lead Designer