The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t traditional operational technology (OT) and it’s not quite information technology (IT), either. Instead, “enterprise IoT is a new platform context based on the ubiquitous nature of data itself,” according to Steve Jennis, senior vice president, corporate development, at PrismTech.
Indeed, while an enterprise IoT system must interface with pre-existing silos of business information and manufacturing data, it also must connect with and facilitate the secure management of data among a wide array of intelligent machines, low-power sensor networks, gateways and protocol converters, mobile devices, data storage, cloud-based applications and more, Jennis explained.
Realizing and maintaining this unprecedented level of seamless data ubiquity is no longer a task appropriate to one-off integration efforts. Rather, the scope and nature of the IoT challenge means that scalable, enterprise-appropriate IoT solutions will increasingly be based on purpose-built IoT platforms and services. “I don’t think many people will be building this technology from scratch,” Jennis said.
Jennis, together with GE Digital’s Amine Chigani, principal architect in the office of the aviation CTO, discussed desirable performance characteristics of IoT platforms at the Smart Industry 2015 conference in Chicago.
What features to look for
While GE is a company that has the ability to build its own IIoT platform, few other companies have the scale, as well as the OEM and IT business acumen to pull it off. So, each company needs an organization that will drive the value proposition, Chigani said.
Writ large, key enterprise IoT platform requirements include the ability to connect and secure assets, the ability to handle industrial big data and data science applications, as well as mobile/cloud connectivity, Chigani said. Further, platform differentiators include scalability, security, on-demand availability, governance, interoperability, and a gated community where developers can share experiences and gain insight.
For Jennis’ part, IoT infrastructure systems that unleash the most valuable aspects of the IoT—the data—must provide:
- Secure, efficient and ubiquitous device-to-device and device-to-cloud data sharing;
- Scalable, automatic device discovery;
- Elastic analytics;
- Seamless application interoperability;
- Integration of IT and OT domains;
- Ease of integration with other IoT building blocks; and,
- Support for edge intelligence.
“The platform technology also must address load balancing, API [application programming interface] management, edge management and data ingestion,” said Jennis.
“Over the next five years, we’ll see a huge investment in this space,” predicted Jennis. “New technologies will lower costs for cloud services and mobile device access. We’re seeing more and more people accepting that this journey is an imperative, rather than an option. It will affect the way they integrate, the way they talk to their suppliers and customers. It will change their business models.”