How to put these technologies together to make a working IIoT architecture
You might be an operations manager looking for industrial IoT solutions to problems and inefficiencies in your operations. You could be a business guy looking to take your company into the world of Industrial IoT (IIoT). Or you’re simply looking for the most efficient way to create Industrial IoT platforms. Regardless of your profile, ready-to-use IIoT tools and solutions will make your life so much easier.
Just to be clear, “make your life easier” is a delicate way to say “prevent you from needlessly torturing yourself.” Why? Because someone already invented the wheel. No need to do it again.
The Industrial Internet of Things is famous for being tricky. Complex. Slow-to-market. Expensive. But it doesn’t have to be anymore.
What are ready-made industrial IoT solutions?
...that are already built and easy to adapt to specific use cases in order to speed up and simplify platform development.
Examples include cloud-based IoT application platforms, edge-to-cloud infrastructure solutions, and data management systems. Liferay’s Digital Experience Platform makes it easy to create user dashboards. Timbegrove’s Moonshot IoT makes asset management platform development so much faster.
4 Reasons to work with ready-to-go Industrial IoT platforms
Besides the obvious "ready-to-go" part, why invest in these IoT solutions?
1. They let you focus on platform integration instead of custom development
Ready-to-use IIoT components are, well, ready to use.
Back in the days when Industrial IoT was only for the early adopters, it took quite a bit of development to build an IIoT platform that would work for your specific use case. Even now, those who spurn the available ready-made options will be bogged down in building features and basic structures.
By making smart use of the out-of-the-box IIoT solutions available, your team can focus on integration with connectors and adapters rather than on developing custom software. It still takes a lot to put together a working Industrial IoT solution. There’s no getting away from that. But it takes much less time this way.
2. Out-of-the-box components cut down on Industrial IoT solution costs
Time is money. Plugging in pre-made components that are proven to work great instead of building your own is going to take a lot less time. Which means it is going to be a lot more budget-friendly.
Of course, these platforms and tools still involve their own cost. It’s a bit more than the cost of upgrading to a G Suite and a bit less than buying your own airline in order to avoid waiting in line for Group 4 at the airport. Of course, it depends on the components, but we can be pretty confident that it will be cheaper than developing them all yourself.
3. You can establish access control, security, and more without needing a lot of expertise
We’ve been in the IIoT field for years. We’ve seen a lot. We know just how hard it is to juggle all of the different areas of expertise needed to make these platforms work well. If a company wanted to build industrial IoT platforms in-house, they’d have needed to hire/train professionals in cybersecurity, wireless connectivity services, API building, etc. Basically, you’d need to have your own Avengers team to make it work right.
The benefit of out-of-the-box access control and security solutions, in this case, is that you don’t need to have access to all those experts. Technology like Liferay DXP goes even further to be built on open-source technologies. The open APIs used in this IIoT platform makes it easier for you to connect to the systems and tools you already have, as well as those you’ll need to add in the future.
4. Data and content aggregation is easier
If you’re looking for “quick” industrial IoT platforms and solutions, despite having different databases, sensors, and applications, then you’ll want a ready-to-use approach. Why? Because data entered from different sources isn’t going to be in the same format. Ever tried getting a toddler into PJs? Forcing together data from different sources is almost that hard.
Think about it like this. The data coming in from "A" source is formatted in the Latin Alphabet, while data from "B" source is in Mandarin Chinese. And data collected from "C" source is akin to barking. Now you have to put them all together in a legible way so you can analyze them and make rules accordingly. Of course, in the real world, we’re talking about technologies like radio, APIs, existing databases, etc. And the best way to see this data is in a user-friendly, integrated dashboard.
The DIY approach will involve a lot of figurative labeling, stamping, stuffing, and shoving together into one pipe, in order to get everything processed. If you’ve ever stuffed a mummy sleeping bag into its sheath, then you have an idea of how difficult stuffing and shoving can be.
This is why we almost always recommend using a solution like Liferay, which allows you to integrate data from different, varied sources into one, easy-to-use dashboard.
Out-of-the-box IIoT tools are made accessible with enterprise-grade applications
These enterprise-grade applications are not your daddy’s Apple Store apps. They’re powerful platforms that are built to integrate with common enterprise software and solutions.
First of all, these enterprise-grade applications can plug into multiple types and categories of components. And they do so with little to no need for customization development. Plug them in and push play. And because most industrial IoT strategies are involving vast amounts of data, these enterprise-grade applications are robust enough to handle it.
What makes industrial IoT platforms more accessible than ever is that there are several good options for ready-to-go applications like this to work with your other ready-to-go components. Otherwise, the development of a functional application like that could be cost-prohibitive. These days, you just have to find the option that works best for your use case, take it out of the box, plug it into the right outlet, and go.
Or, you know what we mean.
Examples of ready-made Industrial IoT solutions that integrate to create a reference architecture
1- Get data from sensors to the data center
Start with a way to get industrial data from your sensors to:
A third-party industrial sensor cloud service
A data connectivity platform like LoRa WAN’s chirp stack, Firefox, or Sierra Wireless Octave
2 – Add a cloud IoT platform
Examples of cloud IoT platforms include:
IBM Watson IoT
MS Azure IoT
This step is necessary to help simplify the ingestion of high-volume real-time data from industrial sensors and processes.
3 – Add a processing/rules engine
You need an engine that allows you to capture high velocity, high volume data, like Apache Kafka or Streams. Once captured, you need to be able to process that data with something like the Tick Stack that enables access to a simple and usable out-of-the-box rules engine.
4 – Add a data management solution
You can use a data management layer and plug that into an initial time-series database like InfluxDB or a NoSqL database like MongoDB. Add a secondary data lake like a data mart or data warehouse solution. When working with high velocity and high volume data, you’ll need a way to offload historical data every 30-60 days into a secondary data storage as a way to manage performance when doing analytics.
5 – Then you’ll need a user dashboard
A solution like Liferay’s Digital Experience Platform offers a proven user dashboard that can be easily developed to fit your use case, without having to worry about building access control and permissions, security, and data and content aggregation. Liferay provides all these normally complex, and separately-built, components in their ready-to-go solution.
Ready-to-use industrial IoT solutions still require work
Building a functional industrial IoT platform still takes work, even if you’re working with ready-made components and infrastructures. Yes, you’ll have easier-to-use ready components. But you’ll still have to get those components to work together. These components still need to integrate into your existing tools and platforms. And, of course, you’ll need to then access data and start making decisions based on it!
Once you’re there, however, you’ll start seeing the value of all the work involved in building industrial IoT solutions.