Internet of Things (IoT) is more than a buzzword. With the rise of wearables and home automation, there is more excitement within the consumer segment. But the real potential of IoT will be realized by the enterprise customers. Industrial IoT is turning into a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for platform vendors, hardware vendors, system integrators and emerging startups.
According to Gartner, there would be 25 billion connected devices by 2020, which translates to $2 trillion opportunity. A majority of these devices will be industrial equipment and machinery such as jet engines, vending machines, health monitoring systems, and other industry-specific devices.
IoT has started to impact almost every vertical including automobile, healthcare, manufacturing, supply chain, retail, construction, and oil and gas industries. Early adopters such as BC Hydro, Coca-Cola, Operations Center of the City of Rio, and Airbus already started to realize the benefits of IoT.
The real value of enterprise IoT comes from data. With the advancements in Big Data processing and analysis, the insights derived from the IoT data sets will become invaluable for the enterprise decision makers. Technologies such as real-time stream analysis and machine learning enable compelling scenarios including predictive maintenance and proactive monitoring of expensive industrial equipment. Apart from mining the sensor data sets, connecting the legacy devices to software platforms and controlling them forms an essential element of an IoT solution.
So, what’s important for an enterprise? Device connectivity or data processing and analysis? What is behind the scenes of an enterprise IoT deployment? This article attempts to identify the essential building blocks of IoT solution stack.
The devices layer is the foundation of an IoT stack. Both legacy devices that existed for decades along with the modern, intelligent, and connected devices form the core. Each device is capable of acquiring data from a variety of sensors that track critical parameters. The devices can also be used to control the state of the equipment – For example, switching off a faulty machine or adjusting the RPM of a rotating gear. The devices layer provides the last mile connectivity to the remote equipment. It presents the current state of the devices along with the ability to remote control them.
Not every device is capable of participating in the connected scenario. Legacy devices and low power devices cannot register and communicate with the IoT platform. That’s where the gateway comes into the picture. Also known as the edge device, the gateway is responsible for acting as a proxy to the devices. It collects, aggregates, and optionally processes the data generated by the devices. The gateway can also accept and route commands sent from the backend to the respective device.
Edge devices or local gateways present an enormous market opportunity. Hardware and networking vendors such as Intel, Cisco, Juniper, Dell, and Alcatel-Lucent are eyeing to capture the market share by augmenting their routers, switches, firewalls and other edge devices that can double up as IoT gateways.
The combination of modern devices, legacy machinery, and edge devices forms the essential devices layer of the IoT stack.
IoT Backend Platform
The crux of enterprise IoT lies in the software platform that manages the devices, stores the data, analyzes it, and presents the insights to the decision makers. It acts as the middleware that orchestrates the entire workflow. Given the attributes of cloud such as elasticity, reliability, and scale, it is becoming the preferred deployment environment of IoT platforms.
The devices layer talks to the cloud gateway that is responsible for authenticating and authorizing the devices to participate in the workflow. It ensures secure communication between the devices and the centralized command center. The gateway is capable of dealing with multiple protocols and data formats. Heterogeneous devices and local gateways with disparate protocols seamlessly register with the cloud gateway. For example, devices and local gateways can talk to the cloud gateway through SOAP, REST, AMQP, XMPP, CoAP, MQTT, and Web Sockets. Irrespective of the inbound protocol, the cloud gateway presents a consistent view of the devices layer to the rest of the components.
A typical industrial IoT deployment deals with tens of thousands of sensors and devices deployed across multiple sites. Each device needs to be registered and maintained in a central repository, which acts as an authoritative inventory representing the current state of deployment. The device registry acts as central inventory where every device is registered with the system. Each device along with its metadata would be readily available in the registry. Any platform component can query the device registry to read the current state of the device along with its capability. For example, a connected car would register with the device registry with the metadata such as the make, model, VIN, year of manufacturing, and torque. The device registry plays the same role as the enterprise LDAP directory. Each and every device that belongs to the solution should be registered with it.
In the next part of this article, we will explore the data processing pipeline of the IoT platform and the presentation tier.
This article was written by Janakiram MSV from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.