NetFoundry is proud to be a member of the Industrial Internet Consortium, a non-profit organization several hundreds of members strong. Last week, the IIC hosted a webinar on connectivity as “The Key to IoT Data Communications,” which is part of the Industrial Internet Connectivity Framework (IICF), a comprehensive resource for understanding Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity considerations.

These standards have been developed by international connectivity experts, and with the IICF, minimum networking expectations are required to build next generation IIoT systems with seamless interoperability between components and systems.

The Industrial Internet Consortium – Dr. Rajive Joshi

Dr. Rajive Joshi, Principal Solution Architect for Real-time Innovations Inc. is featured on the webinar, and his message hinges on the need for interoperability between various IIoT components and subsystems, all which have been built at different times, by different companies, in different regions of the world. “In order to communicate, the underlying connectivity infrastructure must facilitate the exchange of information between the participants,” Dr. Joshi explained, referencing the free, downloadable document released in February of this year.

One of the most compelling parts of Dr. Joshi’s presentation was this representation of the “connectivity stack” as articulated by the IICF:

industrial internet consortium iicf

This is the high-level view of what is required to connect IIoT deployments and mirrors traditional IP networking models, but Dr. Joshi argues that there are new challenges that come when connecting things including structure and unstructured data at levels unprecedented in the history of communications.

industrial internet consortium iicf

Managing huge amounts of real time data requires thoughtful planning and the flexibility to address various the combinations of data required given so many functions in the IIoT. Getting to syntactic interoperability is key to supporting large scale, and secure deployments that can feed systems with the appropriate flow, processing, sharing and synchronization of oceans of information, according to Dr. Joshi and the IICF.

While the use of the Internet for connectivity has many natural benefits (ubiquity, diversity, and economics among them), ensuring “syntactic interoperability” standards beyond “tin can” connectivity will be key to unlocking the true potential of IIoT.

Dr. Joshi closed out with a summary of his main thesis, illustrating the importance for IIOT developers, systems integrators and enterprises investing in IIoT solutions to ensure a robust approach above the physical and packet networks, in the transport and data sharing framework layers where the all-important APIs reside, and related requirements for authentication, addressing, security, prioritization of resources, and more in order to serve the business applications fully.

industrial internet consortium iicf

In addition to the paper referenced above and in Dr. Joshi’s webinar, the IIC also published the Business Strategy and Innovation Framework in November of last year.

Created by the Business Strategy Task Group, and commissioned by the IIC’s Business Strategy and Solution Lifecycle (BSSL) Working Group, this paper provides a high-level identification and analysis of issues that an enterprise needs to address in exploiting Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) concepts for commercial (or other) gain – including connectivity.

While the IIoT market in indisputably growing, there is still a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to deriving value out of IIoT investments. The IIC argues that the adoption of industry-wide frameworks, whether technical, whether connectivity related or whether commercially drive help de-risk decisions to deploy IIoT technologies.

Ultimately, it is the combination of efforts on technical and commercial fronts that are driving progress and value creation in the IIoT realm. NetFoundry has identified the opportunity to contribute to not only the standardization of IIoT connectivity but simplification of it, as we are building in the security, performance and data-friendly functionality that enables developers to leverage the public Internet without having to be a network engineer – they can spin up networks for their applications – private networks – that meet the high standards organizations like the IIC is so capably laying out.

According to the organization’s website, “The Industrial Internet Consortium is an open membership organization with 250 members from 30 countries, formed to accelerate the development, adoption and widespread use of interconnected machines and devices, intelligent analytics, and people at work. Founded by AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM and Intel in March 2014, the Industrial Internet Consortium catalyzes and coordinates the priorities and enabling technologies of the Industrial Internet.”

All images created by IIC