Hannover Messe Was All About Internet of Things Platforms

Internet of Things platforms were all over Hannover Fair last week as I put on more than five miles a day walking checking out as much as I could see.

A few years ago, Industrie 4.0 was unveiled. Last year it was Digitalization. This year Industry 4.o is assumed. Internet of Things is assumed. The race is on for the platform for Internet of Things this year.

One consistent technology, though, that almost all platforms tout–OPC UA. You saw that logo everywhere. [Note: OPC Foundation paid most of my expenses to attend.]

What do I mean by platform? It is the central technology by which everything connects. Most of the time it is what we call proprietary, that is, controlled by one company. It builds a database with connectors to the world. All protocols (they encourage everyone to participate in their own system) bring in data. Sometimes the provider does all the analysis and provides all the applications. Sometimes the provider allows connection to other apps, as well.

I’ve written about the Dell / Linux Foundation effort–after I got through the hype and found the meat. This effort is all open source allowing tie ins with individual company applications.

Microsoft also has an ecosystem or platform that is open with some open source. It relies heavily on OPC UA for data input. Microsoft has its Internet of Things applications but can allow connection to others.

Siemens has its platform called Mindsphere. Siemens is a major proponent of OPC UA.

GE Digital has Predix. It likes OPC UA, too.

SAP is building a platform entirely within its umbrella but encouraging other companies to join it and allows the other apps to run. It also employs OPC UA.

A company I just got a deep dive with for the first time is Exosite. It is a database/analytics developer. At present it is not as broad as the others, but it has the desire to grow to that status.

And then there is Cisco. Yes, the company that builds the network components and OS that control the flow of all your data. Since they know where your data is, it can tap into it and it also has an IoT platform, database, and analytics engine.

By comparison, Rockwell Automation’s Connected Enterprise is totally inbred to Rockwell. I’m sure that in places such as North America where it has huge market share the connectivity works well. It will use some OPC UA next year, so a spokesman told me.

If this is any indication, the Internet of Things has become a “real” thing. Many of these platforms more or less existed before. But Internet of Things adoption obviously is attracting such good things as competition and innovation.

More from Hannover the rest of the week. I’m still compiling notes.

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