Two news items from The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) came my way recently regarding work on IoT. One announced the the publication of the Global Industry Standards for Industrial IoT whitepaper. The other announced launch of an IoT Patterns Initiative.

The whitepaper offers industry guidance in the development, adoption, and use of IIoT standards. The whitepaper outlines a vision and strategy to enable interoperability and system compatibility across the entire IIoT ecosystem.

“The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a rapidly expanding world of connected objects. As IIoT systems proliferate, organizations consume large amounts of data through machine learning algorithms and share it between partners, customers, and others,” said Erin Bournival, Co-Chair, IIC Standards Task Group and Distinguished Engineer, Dell Technologies. “Integration and interoperability are critical in IIoT environments. That’s not easy to achieve in complex IIoT environments, so standards play a critical role.”

The whitepaper lists categories of standards and the organizations that produce them. It provides business cases for adopting standards as well as strategies for participating in standards development. “Users and vendors cannot engineer a custom interface every time components or systems need to interact,” said Erich Clauer, Co-chair IIC Standards Task Group, and VP Industry Standards & Open Source, SAP. “Standards are the lingua franca for interoperability and can make the explosion of interfaces manageable. For suppliers, standards can reduce or eliminate costs.”

“Operational Technology (OT) can no longer deploy isolated islands of automation,” said Claude Baudoin, Principal Consultant, cébé IT & Knowledge Management, and one of the authors of the whitepaper. “Information Technology (IT) and OT must work together to achieve digital transformation. IIoT environments are connected to enterprise systems through the internet, and must adhere to IT communication, security and data norms.”

What is more, customers require standards compliance to avoid vendor lock-in. Standards compliance creates a competitive environment in which failure to support standards — international, regional, industry- or function-specific — becomes a competitive disadvantage. Regulatory agencies require standards adherence to make their monitoring and auditing work feasible. Standards also make employee skills portable across divisions and companies.

“Organizations must define a standards strategy and execute it,” said Sven Toothman, Lead Project Editor and Industry Standards & Open-Source Architect, SAP SE. “IIoT stakeholders could adopt and implement standards as they emerge, but this limited engagement exposes an organization to surprises. By participating in standards development, organizations can anticipate the emergence of new standards. That involves a commitment and extends to processes, product design, and budget.”

IIC members who wrote the Global Industry Standards for Industrial IoT whitepaper and a list of members who contributed to it can be found here on the IIC website.

IOT PATTERNS INITIATIVE

The IIC also announced the IIC IoT Patterns Initiative to crowdsource, review, revise, and publish a library of high-quality and well-reasoned IoT patterns for use and reuse across industries.

A pattern describes a recurring design or architectural problem in a specific context and offers an established scheme for its solution. IoT patterns include architectural designs to represent essential cohesive components and their assembly; and design patterns that illustrate solutions to specific problems. 

“Patterns capture and condense teachings from developer and system architect experiences that others can use to tackle new problems,” said François Ozog, Director Edge & Fog Computing Group, Linaro, and Co-chair, IIC Patterns Task Group. “The IIC is also developing application notes to describe how to use patterns effectively in various contexts and to help identify the best patterns for solutions.” 

Use-cases describe various perspectives of a system based on user roles by defining user requirements and identifying essential functionalities. “Many patterns are technical,” said Daniel Burkhardt, doctoral student, Ferdinand-Steinbeis-Institut, and Co-chair, IIC Patterns Task Group. “But by focusing on end-user concerns and requirements, developers and system architects will use patterns effectively, and solution designs will improve.”

“Patterns enable industries to succeed through collaboration on best practices,” said Dr. Jason McC. Smith, OMG Vice President, and Technical Director. “IIC is leading the way in IoT by building a pattern repository that developers can use to solve new problems.”

IIoT developers and system architects can access the IIC IoT Patterns repository on the IIC Resource Hub. Developers can also join the IIC Community Forum to discuss patterns. Workshops to educate the IIoT developer community will follow. For more information about the IIC IoT Patterns Initiative, read our blog.

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