What's Shaping the Industrial Internet of Things Network?

Author: 
Vijay Vasudevan
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Industrial internet network is a complex mix up of OT, IT, and business operations setup. At the heart of the large computing that’s going to take place is the infrastructure. It’s not just high speed data transmission networks that are going to define the reliability of the infrastructure, it’s the many sub layers that need to meet at the vortex to make IIoT networks work.

Those sublayers include protocols, data standards, control and instrumentation systems that make up the hundreds of pieces of machinery within a plant or production facility to create IIOT-driven products and services.

So, where are we on each of those sublayers of IIoT network? Specifically, can we look at the some real, on the ground changes taking place to fuel the IIoT network?

Here are a few indicators on what’s shaping the IIoT networks this year.

Connectivity

GE, CISCO, and Qualcom have deployed a private LTC test bed in the NY area as on April, 2017 that promises to accelerate data transmission to 100 Gbps. Primarily, the test bed’s goal is to enable industries to “instantaneously connect and control machines located thousands of miles away”. Both IIoT and Industrie 4.0 consortiums are leading this effort. Projects like this we can infer is making IIoT connectivity network, transport, and framework far more capable than we have today. Along these lines, the consortium in Feb announced the completion of its Release 1.0 specification, which defines how LTE operates in unlicensed and shared spectrum.

Gateway & Framework

Most of the IoT gateway technology, that is, the technology which is the host for edge processing capabilities, runs on favors of the Linux operating system while using different kinds of processor architectures. An industry wide trend is emerging to package edge computing capabilities into micro services and deploy them within containers on IoT gateways. An exception to this Linux predominance is the manufacturing industry where various versions of the Windows operating system and Microsoft’s .NET platform make up the majority of implementations.

Data Interoperability & Analytics

Industrial automation is taking cues from the telecom industry and is beginning to apply software-defined infrastructure for the IIoT.

This approach negates the inter-operability of data issues among the tens of hundreds of propriety industrial systems. And the other factor is the need to eliminate developing component or device specific functions instead using open standards to transform those functions into software-defined infrastructure operations.

Elsewhere, we see industrial manufacturers such as in the case of a medical device manufacturer adopting the PTC-ThinkWorx platform to combine control and business systems data.

In all the hype and perhaps a certain degree of confusion, there’s optimism that standards and industrial houses are coming together to build something meaningful.  We are sure to come back on more updates on this topic, as the IIoT network makes inroads into newer frontiers as we head on into the rest of the year.