Digi International Inc. was formed in 1985 as a Minnesota corporation and reorganized as a Delaware corporation in 1989 in conjunction with its initial public offering. Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol DGII. With our global headquarters in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and regional sales offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia, our products are available through approximately 262 distributors in more than 70 countries. We also have engineering locations in North America, Europe and India.
Our first products (sold under the DigiBoard® brand) were box and board-level serial port adapters that were used to directly connect multiple peripherals, such as standalone computer terminals, to personal computers or a host computer system. During the 1990’s, Ethernet became the connectivity infrastructure for businesses and over time it has been extended into factories, retail stores, restaurants, hospitals and many other environments. During the same period, the semiconductor industry was also in a phase of rapid advancement. Complete systems were being built on a single integrated circuit (chip). As part of a box or board level product, these chips could be used to build a network interface for virtually any device for which network connectivity was required. Recognizing the developing opportunities for device connectivity, we implemented a strategy in early 2000 to leverage the brand strength that we had established with the DigiBoard product line by organically developing or acquiring next-generation connectivity products and technologies that would extend the value of the Digi brand into an array of device networking applications.
During the course of the past several years, we have augmented our strategy with an increasing emphasis on developing wireless device connectivity solutions. In fiscal 2007, we launched our “Drop-in Networking” initiative which provides end-to-end wireless access to electronic devices in places where wires will not work or cannot be used. Drop-in Networking enables our customers to differentiate their products, provide better customer service and frequently create new revenue streams. Our Drop-in Networking initiative provides opportunities for us in the next wave of Internet growth. The initial wave was focused on connecting people, first with personal computers and then with cell phones, PDA’s and other related consumer devices. This next wave focuses on connecting devices and machines. We believe that the Internet will support billions of new devices in the next several years. We are ideally positioned to take full advantage of the second wave of Internet growth with our Drop-in Networking Solutions that will provide significant market expansion in what is now being referred to in the market as wireless machine to machine (M2M) connectivity.
M2M communication works by connecting communication hardware to a physical asset so that information about its status and performance can be sent to a computer system and used to automate a business process or a human action so that a person does not have to do it manually. Incorporating products from both our embedded and non-embedded categories, our Drop-In Networking Solutions are making it easy for customers to effectively “drop-in” a wireless M2M solution.
In fiscal 2009, we expanded on Drop-in Networking and introduced our iDigi™ Solutions brand. The iDigi™ Solution bundles software and services with our Drop-in Networking product offerings to make M2M deployments even easier, faster, and more economical. At the heart of an iDigi™ Solution bundle is the iDigi™ Platform, a Platform as a Service (PaaS) that quickly and easily connects remote assets to a customer’s business applications. The iDigi™ Platform also includes a Control Center application which enables easy provisioning, maintenance and management of the devices themselves as well as the associated connectivity. The iDigi™ Platform runs on a grid of Digi-managed servers. As an on-demand model, customers pay only for services consumed, conserving capital and requiring minimal infrastructure to operate. iDigi™ Energy was launched as the first iDigi™ Solution bundle and targets the Smart Grid efforts of energy services providers. iDigi™ Tank was subsequently launched as an iDigi™ solution bundle optimized for remote tank monitoring of storage tanks containing liquids, solids and gases.
We continue to leverage a common core technology base to develop and provide innovative connectivity solutions to our customers. Core technology is used across product lines to provide additional functionality for customers, allowing them to get to market with network-enabled devices faster. We have positioned ourselves in the growing market of integrated hardware and software connectivity solutions to network-enable the coming generation of intelligent devices in business applications. Our Drop-in Networking and iDigi™ Solutions brand are enabling us to pivot our business from point products to solutions. We have strategic goals for the next three to five years to change our revenue mix to be 60% wireless, 60% international, and at least 10% services. We believe we are making progress towards these goals by increasing our investment in wireless products, expanding internationally, and providing full solutions which include product and services offerings to our customers. Our wireless product net sales grew from $46.7 million, or 25.2% of total net sales in fiscal 2008, to $56.2 million, or 33.9% of total net sales in fiscal 2009, or an increase of 20.3%. International net sales were $75.2 million, or 45.3% of total net sales in fiscal 2009, compared to $77.7 million, or 42.0% of net sales in fiscal 2008.PRODUCTS
Our products are divided into two categories: embedded and non-embedded. An embedded product is incorporated by a product developer into an electronic device (e.g., utilities meter, environmental sensors, retail scanner, and medical instruments). It provides processing power and wired or wireless network connectivity to that device. Additional hardware and/or software development is required on the part of the customer when using an embedded product as the product usually is an integrated internal part of the device.
A non-embedded product is connected externally to a device or larger system (e.g., retail checkout, building access control panel, traffic controller) to provide network connectivity or port expansion. Non-embedded products generally do not require additional hardware development and can often be used right out of the box, although they do provide an environment for adding custom software as well. These products provide an economical way to network-enable previously deployed devices, allowing companies to utilize the latest technologies without the cost of replacing existing equipment.
Embedded Networking Products
Modules — Developing a device around a chip or microprocessor involves a high level of complexity. A module is a group of components that are set up to work together, eliminating much of that complexity. An embedded module may provide somewhat less flexibility than a chip, but is much easier to implement into a product design. A number of these modules can be directly connected to iDigi™, enabling remote management and remote application connectivity.
Our modules can be divided into two categories: processor modules and communications modules. Processor modules provide customers with a networked platform for use as the main processor in an embedded system and the flexibility to add in custom features and functionality, as this ensures a very quick time to market development cycle for a network-enabled device. These modules are targeted as the core processors for products such as access control systems, Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, Radio Frequency ID (RFID) readers, medical devices and instrumentation and networked displays. Communication modules are ideal for network-enabling and web-enabling a device. They enable customers who wish to easily accommodate both wired and wireless functionality in one product design. These modules make it very easy to add most any type of connectivity, especially wireless connectivity. Typically with a communication module, there is another processor performing the central processing. Adding wired or wireless network communication to a device allows companies to manage that device over a network or via the Internet.
Chips — A chip (or microprocessor) provides the “brains” and processing power of an intelligent electronic device or communication sub-system. Some of our higher volume customers choose to purchase chips and build their own products. Chips are low cost but require the highest level of development expertise. Building a solution from the chip level offers a low cost of the end design, but the level of complexity in product development can increase risk and prolong time to market.
Our chips are the building blocks for many of our embedded and non-embedded products. By using our own microprocessors we can ensure complete hardware/software compatibility for product designs. In addition this allows us to guarantee long-term availability to our module customers. This is a significant advantage since many of these products are expected to be in use for five to ten years once they are developed.
Software and Development Tools — Coupled with the chips and modules are a variety of development tools and associated software to make application development easy. We provide software and tools for a variety of operating environments and developer skill sets. These include Linux® and Microsoft® Windows® Embedded CE as well as our own Net+OS and Python based iDigi™ Device Integration Application (DIA). Single Board Computers — Single-board computers (SBCs) are complete systems on a single circuit board. They are essentially a programmable box product without the enclosure — everything is on the board and ready to be embedded into a larger system. They offer the same benefits as the processor modules, but eliminate the need for additional interface circuitry because they include all of the key device interface components on one circuit board.
Network Interface Cards — Our intelligent Network Interface Cards (NICs) are legacy products that are used to provide Ethernet networking interfaces for printers. This function has been increasingly taken over by the main processor.
Services — Through our subsidiary, Spectrum Design Solutions, Inc. (Spectrum), we offer engineering design services to customers that are challenged with their wireless development projects. Our specialized engineers have extensive experience in wireless technologies such as Global System for Mobile communication (GSM), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Global Positioning System (GPS), Wi-Fi and proprietary radio frequency (RF) as well as Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) design, Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) integration, embedded software and complete turn-key product development which allows them to address virtually any wireless development need.
Satellite — Our acquisition of MobiApps added satellite communication products that provide worldwide satellite data transmit/receive capabilities for customers involved in satellite-based tracking and industrial remote communications. Operating over the ORBCOMM low-earth orbit satellite network, these products can significantly improve asset utilization by allowing clients to monitor, track and manage their fixed and mobile assets around the world.
Non-Embedded Networking Products
Cellular Routers — Cellular routers provide connectivity for devices over a cellular data network. They can be used as a cost effective alternative to landlines for primary or backup connectivity for hard to reach sites and devices. We introduced the first intelligent high-speed cellular router in 2005 to address the growing need for customers to connect remote sites and devices. These products have been certified by the major wireless providers in North America and abroad, including AT&T®, Verizon Wireless®, Sprint®, Bell Mobility and Rogers. All of our cellular products include a unique remote management platform that provides secure management of devices across remote networks. In addition, application connectivity, management and customization is enabled via the iDigi™ platform for many of these products.
Gateways — A gateway aggregates local wireless data traffic and transports it over a cellular or other Internet Protocol (IP)-based network, usually back to a central application or database. Our gateway products, part of our Drop-in Networking solution, enable devices or groups of devices to be networked in locations where there is no existing network or where access to a network is prohibited. These gateways can work in conjunction with our wireless adapters and wireless embedded modules to enable customers to monitor and manage remote devices in a non-intrusive and economical way. All of our gateway products are strongly linked with iDigi™ for secure management of devices across remote networks, application connectivity and customization.
Wireless Communication Adapters — Our wireless communication adapters are small box products that utilize a variety of wireless protocols for PC-to-device or device-to-device connectivity, often in locations where deploying a wired network is not possible either because of cost, disruption or impracticality. By supporting ZigBee®, Wi-Fi® and proprietary RF technologies, we can meet most customer application requirements, such as serial cable replacement, Ethernet cable replacement, mesh networking, low cost/low power remote monitoring, simple I/O control functions, environmental sensors and long distance connectivity. In conjunction with one of our gateways, wireless communication adapters plug into iDigi™ for remote management, application connectivity and customization.
Serial Servers — Serial Servers (also known as device servers and terminal servers) add wired or wireless network connectivity to a serial device. They transfer data between a serial port and an Ethernet network, turning a previously isolated device with a serial port into a fully collaborative network component. We believe that serial servers will remain an important product category as Ethernet based serial connections continue to extend beyond their current applications into many new markets such as building automation, healthcare, process control, and secure console port management on servers, routers, switches and other network equipment. Many of our serial servers can also leverage iDigi™ for application connectivity, remote management and customization.
Console Servers — Console servers, or console management servers, provide access to the serial ports of network equipment such as servers, routers or switches. Our intelligent console servers enable customers to access, monitor or manage their network devices across multiple sites, both remotely over the network or via their console ports even during network outages. These console servers provide advanced auditing and logging capabilities that complement regulatory compliance efforts such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
USB Connected Products — The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a “plug-and-play” interface between a computer and peripheral devices. In recent years, many serial ports on PCs have been replaced with USB ports, due in large part to the usability and cost effectiveness of USB devices. We have one of the most comprehensive and advanced USB port expansion product lines in the industry. Our USB-to-serial converters enable customers to expand a single USB port into multiple serial ports to connect legacy peripheral devices. The product line also includes USB hubs that add additional USB or powered USB ports, which are often used in retail environments, and a network-enabled hub that connects USB devices over an IP network, which is an industry first.
Remote Display Products — Our remote display connectivity solutions are designed for digital advertising, digital menus, airport status displays, stadium scoreboards, or other applications where visual content is to be displayed in public areas. These “zero-clients” connect display, serial and USB devices over an IP-based network, without a dedicated PC or thin client. Removing the PC or thin client in a digital display solution not only saves space but reduces costs and increases security and reliability.
Cameras and Sensors — Cameras and sensors are used in a wide variety of environmental monitoring and building automation/security applications. Our cameras and sensors are supported by application software that provides device status, data logging and alerts. These products also play a role in our Drop-in Network portfolio of products. The cameras can be connected to our cellular routers and gateways to provide video or still-frame images from select locations. The sensors are standalone wireless or can also be connected to our wireless adapters to provide environmental data from end-point nodes.
Serial Cards — A serial card plugs into the expansion slot of a computer to provide serial ports for device connectivity. We are a global leader in this category and offer one of the most extensive serial card product families. Our products support a wide range of operating systems, port densities, bus types, expansion options and applications. As Ethernet connections extend beyond current applications, the serial card products are gradually transitioning to network-attached and/or USB- attached devices. We have strengthened our product offering to meet customer needs and fully support this mature product line while working to seamlessly transition customers to newer technologies.