Schneider Electric Launches Next Generation IoT Architecture and Platform

Schneider Electric announced launch of what CTO Prith Banerjee called a major advance for its Internet of Things (IoT) architecture and strategy. I’ve had a bit of a problem wrapping my head around the announcement. That is because this is not a product announcement. It’s more of a strategy announcement.

At the end of Banerjee’s 45-minute presentation, he began talking about putting the elements together with APIs (application program interfaces) that describe how the components work together.

The platform describes five application areas and four vertical industries. These are safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability, and connectivity applications, and building, grid, industry, and data center markets.

Prominent were  partners Microsoft and Intel along with many others noted briefly. The platform is build atop Microsoft Azure—not surprising since Microsoft seems to have captured the manufacturing/industrial market. The intel part os for its FPGA technology used in smart devices.

“EcoStruxure combines our history in pioneering in automation, energy management and deep domain expertise with data-driven metrics and analytics to help us maximize the value of the Internet of Things for our customers,” said Dr. Prith Banerjee, Chief Technology Officer, Schneider Electric. “EcoStruxure gives our customers the platform, architecture and roadmap to quickly and easily implement IoT in an enterprise, extending the benefits of IoT beyond the device layer to create a more intelligent, efficient and secure operation.”

The first layer builds on Schneider Electric’s core competency in developing connected products with embedded intelligence, such as sensors, medium and low voltage breakers, drives and actuators.

The Edge Control layer gives organizations the critical capability to manage their operations on-premise as well as from the cloud depending on their needs. This includes connected control platforms with remote access, advanced automation and operator override capabilities. Local control and firewall protection is included to maximize the benefits especially for mission-critical applications.

Schneider Electric’s focused investment in R&D and product development in the critical areas of software, analytics and services, coupled with the integration of recent acquisitions such as Invensys, Telvent and Summit Energy forms the third layer of the stack – a portfolio of apps, analytics and services. EcoStruxure enables the most extensive breadth of vendor-agnostic apps, analytics and services on open IP protocols in order to work with any hardware, system, or control.

The last “layer” includes a set of core reference architectures. The architectures build on the company’s deep domain expertise and portfolio and are tested, validated and tailored for its core end markets of Buildings, Grid, Industry and Data Centers, with even more specific architectures also available for industrial plants, industrial machines, and power distribution. The architectures give customers access to documented and standardized system reference designs that can be used in the implementation of interoperable, sustainable, efficient and connected systems.

These announcements follow the trends described here and by most analysts. The Industrial Internet of Things builds up from smart devices (things) connected (Internet) to each other and to various gateways, databases, the cloud, with analytics performed at various stops along the way and finally displayed as actionable information on some sort of desktop or mobile device. Common with the industry at large, Schneider Electric builds upon Microsoft Azure.

The omissions I found striking were mention of EtherNet/IP (Schneider is an ODVA member) and OPC UA—two connectivity technologies. Probably doesn’t mean anything, but noticeable by absence.

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