Home Availability Pushing Toward the Edge with Low-Touch, Continuously Available Systems

How do you prepare for the evolution toward edge-based systems and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)? That’s what Jason Andersen, Vice President, Business Line Management, Stratus; Craig Resnick, Vice President, ARC Advisory Group; and Bill Lydon, Editor, Automation.com, discussed during the webcast, “Living on the Edge: New Techniques for Protecting Data in the Era of the Industrial Internet of Things.” Here are the highlights:

Transformation in industrial automation is already underway. Analytics, AI, and machine sensors are moving out of the data center to the “edge” at the point of production, whether on the plant floor or a gas pipeline station. Analytics will allow you to review data in a meaningful, insightful way. Instead of simply reacting to issues, you can make proactive decisions on how to run your business and capture significant gains in productivity, output, and efficiency.

Helping fuel the adoption of IIoT is the availability of less expensive, standards-based devices and other systems. In parallel, there is growing recognition that operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) teams need to collaborate and learn from each to fully realize IIoT business value.

What Should You Look for in Edge Systems as You Evolve Toward IIoT?

Here are four identified key requirements:

  1. Easy to use, low-touch: IT skills will be scarce or non-existent at the edge so you want to make sure OT staff can easily use the systems and IT can deliver support, including predictive maintenance, remotely.
  2. Continuous availability: Edge systems simply can’t fail. Data and workloads need to be protected in a cohesive, coherent and holistic way across servers, data, applications and workloads with fully redundant systems. Ideally, analytics predict problems, preventing issues from even happening. Security is also an important part of protecting data.
  3. Low TCO: Virtualized, standards-based systems help reduce server sprawl with consolidation and opex and capex costs. The evolution of HMI and thin clients also help replace operator desktops with smartphones, tablets, and Web interfaces, which cost less to purchase and maintain. Such savings can pay for an IIoT project itself.
  4. Hybrid cloud: IIoT will drive data and applications to the cloud and on-premise systems, such as edge devices, which is why hybrid cloud is ideal. Network latency and speed are important factors when deciding which data and workloads belong in the cloud vs. on-premise.

IIoT is not going away. In fact, 27% of webcast polled participants reported that they already have deployed IIoT. Check out our latest infographic to learn how the industry is accepting an IoT world at the edge.

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