4 June, 2019

The Build vs. Buy dilemma:
Ensure long-term IIoT success (Part 2).

The Dynamic Nature of IIoT Solutions.

Let’s face it: IIoT ecosystems are not static. They will necessarily evolve with time. What does it mean for your business? Ensuring long-term success is inevitably tied to understanding the nature of IIoT solutions and how it applies to your specific case. Even when you already have a clear plan for your IIoT initiative, the devil is in the detail.

For example, you have allocated team members to the IIoT project for a certain period of time. The idea is that once everything runs smoothly, they will go back to their core tasks. Here is where it gets tricky. It is no doubt that deployed resources could become permanently involved with the day-to-day intricacies of device maintenance, security, and software updates. And we do not even mention the monitoring of cloud connectivity and display interface software and information.

So, the first step towards success is realizing that IIoT solutions are dynamic by nature. The best thing you can do is to go back to the drawing board and take some possible pain points into account. Here they come.

Maintenance, security and
the cloud.

IIoT solutions are not just a drain on resources during the planning and implementation phase. Let’s imagine that you have a network of endpoints sending an edge-processed data stream X and data stream Y from operating line Z to your middleware platform. It is a simple example, but even this basic ecosystem requires a dedicated team to ensure it functions properly. All IIoT solutions require intensive support and maintenance in the initial phases. This support is necessarily fragmented as there are diverse skill sets needed to maintain the new digital mechanical ecosystem and cloud connectivity.

Cloud connectivity is posing yet another challenge when developing IoT ecosystems. What are clouds all about? They are a sophisticated blend of network security, networking protocols, performance, reliability, communications, data infrastructure, and software maintenance. Not only that – cloud connectivity is also about data infrastructure as clouds connect up data streams. Data infrastructure must be able to scale accordingly. That’s why IoT solutions are generally based on cloud computing – as opposed to an on-premise installation.

There are many different cloud service providers out there. If you decide to build your own IoT solution, you have to research and choose the best fit for your needs. But what happens if a provider changes architecture or rules? Some cloud providers can give you cloud provider independence, but it takes additional time and money to adapt technical architecture to be an independent cloud vendor.

Scalability matters.

What’s the magic word? The answer is scalability. IIoT solutions should always be implemented with scalability in mind, to incorporate a growing infrastructure due to technological advancements. They should also be extendable to take in other IIoT branches or projects within the same business.

At the edge level, it can become difficult to continue supporting one protocol as the number and types of devices increases. Moreover, the continued retrofitting and integration of legacy equipment can further affect the expansion of new IIoT ecosystems. Device compatibility and middleware suitability can become major bottlenecks to project deployment if the systems in place and the teams supporting them are not flexible enough to adapt and move forward.

Scalability IIoT solutions

The more sensors you add to a solution, the more data there is to collect. It is vital that platforms know how to wake up devices, gain or send necessary data while saving transmission bandwidth. A project team will need to understand technology limits for different types of networks: 3G, LTE, WIFI, 6LoWPan, and find the best solution that connects each device. Both the device and the platform need to be authenticated and all data encrypted individually. It is that simple – most DIY solutions cannot accommodate the volume of data they create. The more the system grows, the more complex it becomes.

This is before we even consider the middleware stage, and in particular the integration of different IIoT projects, which can become a major issue if your IoT middleware platform is not scalable or modular.

Are you ready?

After discussing the roadblocks on the way to a successful IIoT initiative, it is time to get started. You are still wondering what the best solution for your business needs is? Then do not miss the last blog post of our Build vs. Buy series. You can read more about how to ensure the success of your IIoT project and discover the relayr middleware platform in our white paper. Build or Buy? This is the question. And you have the answer.