Tech giant EMC sees opportunity in IIoT and, under the auspices of the IIC, has been teaming up with several other players to build and test a new kind of network – built on hardware but defined by software. This approach provides vast flexibility, the ability to easily reconfigure, and much greater ability to integrate with mobile networks.
According to EMC, the International Future Industrial Internet Testbed (INFINITE) has been conceived as an optimal industrial internet infrastructure in conjunction with Industrial Internet Consortium member Cork Institute of Technology as well as Vodafone, the Irish Government Networks, Asavie and Cork Internet Exchange.
In the first phase of its implementation, three geographically separate data centers will be interconnected into a reconfigured EMC network. In phase two, INFINITE will be applied to a real-world use case, dubbed "Bluelight,” which will connect ambulances to hospital systems in real time, providing insights into the condition of the patient under transport and allowing the hospital to be fully prepared to initiate treatment.
I spoke to Said Tabet about INFINITE. He is the senior technologist and industry standards strategist at EMC and also a member of Smart Industry's program committee. Tabet says he is “excited that after several months we have a real set up with three data centers in place and the stack of software and hardware.” Tabet says that from the start, each of the data centers has been configured with strong security policies and hardening to ensure the security needed for mission critical operations.
“We dealt with existing infrastructure; we didn’t create something from scratch like you would with totally new technology,” says Tabet. The other thing that is important is the idea of an open platform, which he says is vital when you want to ensure continued innovation in security. “With INFINITE it is there from day one,” he says.
Among the features that make INFINITE interesting and very relevant for IIoT is its ability to be reconfigured with no change to underlying hardware and its scalability. So, those using the network can connect from multiple access points without compromising security. Furthermore, INFINITE can support multiple virtual domains that can be connected through mobile networks. This provides tremendous potential flexibility for enterprise-scale organizations and also implies that smaller organizations could operate a cost-effective control network over shared hardware resources.
In addition to supporting Bluelight, the INFINITE testbed is also open to any Industrial Internet Consortium member as well as nonmembers companies interested in testing an IoT solution that would benefit from mobility and dynamic configuration.
Tabet says he expects many more use cases to emerge for example in environmental monitoring or in “testing public policy against planning.”
“With INFINITE we really wanted to bring together the best of what IoT has to offer,” he adds.
Alan R. Earls is a Boston-based writer focused on technology, business, and manufacturing — a field where he spent the earliest part of his career. He has written for publications and websites as diverse as The Boston Globe, Computerworld and Modern Infrastructure as well as Industry, The Manufacturer, and Today's Machining World.