The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) generates much useful information promoting awareness and technical tips about, well, the Industrial Internet of Things. Last week I had the opportunity to speak to the authors of a new white paper, ”Introduction to Edge Computing in IIoT”, Todd Edmunds, Senior Solution Architect, IoT, Cisco, and Lalit Canaran, VP, SAP.

The paper provides practical guidance on edge computing, architectures and the building blocks necessary for edge computing implementations. The IIC is also planning to release an Edge Computing Technical Report that will contain in-depth technical information in the coming months.

This paper is not a C-level generic paper evangelizing the concept, but rather practical advice designed to open the discussion followed by technical details targeted to those to whom the C-level executives might tell, “I have been reading about the IIoT. This looks like something we should be jumping into.”

We discussed how the edge should be defined by the business objective rather than the technology used. Using computing at the edge improves performance of the system when bandwidth could be the constraining factor for using the cloud.

As the edge gets more powerful, they told me, the role of the cloud will shift to one of orchestration of remote sites plus storage.

“Many companies are wanting to realize the business benefits that edge computing is purported to provide but are unsure where to begin or how to realize those advantages. The IIC has been at the vanguard of the industrial internet since its inception, and edge computing has been an integral part of driving the transformational outcomes that go along with it,” said Edmunds. “With the publication of this white paper, we provide practical guidance on where the ‘edge’ is and the key drivers for implementing edge computing. We also provide detail on edge computing architectures and real-world use cases.”

“Almost every use case and every connected device on the industrial internet requires some sort of compute capability at its source at the edge,” said Dr. Mitch Tseng, Distinguished Consultant, Huawei Technologies, and co-author of the white paper. “Oil rigs in remote locations have sensors gathering data but they need to be mindful of the challenges of data transmission because of bandwidth issues or the cost of transmission. The white paper is a first step in the development of an industrial grade ‘cookbook’ for edge computing.”

“Organizations adopting an IIoT strategy need to understand what data is available, how to use it to drive industrial processes and how to orchestrate, manage and secure data/compute,” said Canaran. “This paper and subsequent technical report will enable enterprises to unlock the full potential of the edge-cloud continuum and drive the business outcomes enabled by next-generation IoT devices, machine learning and AI.”

The full IIC Introduction to Edge Computing in IIoT white paper and a list of IIC members who contributed can be found on the IIC website.

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