Today, we often hear the terms Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet used to describe an area of emerging technological focus, an opportunity for many start-up companies and technology giants, and a skill set much in demand. We believe that incorporating sensors and intelligent edge devices into an information architecture is the latest stage in an evolution that has been progressing for some time and will continue to evolve in the future. So, we thought it is quite timely to write this architect's guide in creating Industrial Internet solutions. We also hope it will prove to be somewhat timeless and useful for many years to come.
The term IoT covers a wide variety of business and consumer devices and applications and business solutions where data gathered from those devices is analyzed. We have chosen to focus this book on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the industrial side of the IoT. We will describe use cases and reference architectures that include those for industrial manufacturing; manufacturers of consumer packaged goods; and other sectors such as healthcare devices, transportation, aviation and energy generation, transmission, distribution, and controls. Some of today's initiatives focus on manufacturing quality, preventive maintenance, and improved service efficiency. We will also explore transportation use cases and reference architectures including those that solve aviation, automotive, rail, and supply chain problems. Additionally, we will explore solutions in the oil and gas industry and in the intelligent buildings and cities area.
IIoT can be defined as a system of connected things, machines, computers, and people, enabling intelligent industrial operations using advanced data analytics for transformational business and societal outcomes. In this chapter, we will begin by describing how we arrived at the Industrial Internet generation to provide you with some context for all that follows. Since there are many types and definitions of architects today, we'll describe their areas of focus and roles next. We'll then briefly describe the remaining chapters of the book to help you understand how their architecture role might align to what we will cover in each chapter.
Though we wrote this book to serve as an architect's guide, we realize it will attract a more diverse audience. If you are a manager focusing on the implications of the Industrial Internet today, you should find many portions of the book to be of interest. Similarly, developers who want to understand why and how these projects are initiated and the reference architectures behind them should find much content to be of interest. We hope to close the gap between professionals who handle information technology systems and those who manage operations and the associated technology.
The authors work at some of the leading companies that provide products that address various requirements when deploying these projects. That said, one of our goals in writing this book was to create a non-vendor-specific guide that should be useful regardless of what technology footprint you use. We will share with you the practical knowledge we gained in helping our own and other companies and organizations adopt the architecture patterns and solutions that we describe. This chapter will serve as an introduction to some of the fundamental concepts we discuss in the book and should provide you with some background if you are new to the Industrial Internet. The key topics are as follows:
- How the Industrial Internet evolved from the Industrial Revolution
- Why organizations are investing in IIoT solutions
- Some of the challenges to prepare for in the deployment of IIoT solutions
- Roles and responsibilities of the various architects and the roles tied to professional development paths
Cloud-based and technology platform providers, applications, and custom solutions Most Industrial Internet backend development is occurring today on cloud-based solutions for reasons that we explain in this book. Typical platforms considered include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google cloud, IBM cloud solutions, Microsoft Azure, and the Oracle cloud for the infrastructure. Organizations sometimes select the IoT platform or custom-develop and deploy IIoT solutions themselves, choose to deploy applications they purchase, and/or hire system integrator and consultant to help. IoT Platforms as a Service (PaaS) in the cloud and applications Software as a Service (SaaS) are growing areas of emphasis, with General Electric perhaps providing the most widely known IIoT solutions sold in this manner.