I’ve been thinking deeply about the industrial internet and the greater industrial ecosystem. A friend passed along an article from ZD Net written by Simon Bisson, “There’s A Huge Void At the Heart of the Internet of Things.”
The deck of the article reads, “Closed systems do not an internet make. It’s time to change that before it’s too late.”
He knew I was working on some white papers for MIMOSA and the OpenO&M Initiative on interoperability of standards in the larger industrial ecosystem. In the case of what I’m writing, there exists a gap in areas covered by Enterprise Business Systems, Big Data and Analytics, Automation and Control Systems, and Life-Cycle Engineering Systems. The gap can be filled with Supplier Neutral Open Standards and Specifications.
Bisson writes, “Sensors are everywhere, but they’re solitary devices, unable to be part of a holistic web of devices that exposes the world around us, giving us the measurements we need to understand and control our environments.”
He notes a few feeble movements toward developing “communication and API standards for these devices, through standards like AllJoyn and Open Connectivity Foundation, the backbone is still missing: a service that will allow us to work with all the devices in our homes.”
Industrial Internet broadly speaking
Typical of a consumer-facing publication, he’s thinking home. I’m thinking industrial in a broad scope.
He continues, “Building that code isn’t hard, either. One of the more interesting IoT development platforms is Node-RED. It’s a semi-visual programming environment that allows you to drag and drop code modules, linking them to a range of inputs and outputs, combining multiple APIs into a node.js-based application that can run on a PC, or in the cloud, or even on devices like the Raspberry Pi.”
Bisson concludes, “The road to an interoperable Internet of Things isn’t hard to find. We just need to remember that our things are now software, and apply the lessons we’ve learnt about building secure and interoperable systems to those software things. And once we’ve got that secure, interoperable set of things, we can start to build the promised world of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence.”
I’d take his consumer ideas and apply them to industrial systems. The work I’m doing is to explain an industrial interoperable system-of-systems. I’m about ready to publish the first white paper which is an executive summary. I’m about half done with the longer piece that dives into much greater detail. But he is right. Much has already been invented, developed, and implemented at a certain level. We need to fill the gap now.