What’s the buzz with IIOT, Industrie 4.0, IoT, and M2M? Is it real or is it just marketing hype?
There are many buzzwords, three letter acronyms (TLA) and a proliferation of phrases that attempt to define and communicate all this terminology that some people are summing up as the Internet of Everything. What we know is that all of these buzzwords and acronyms seemingly all have one thing in common, they are all fundamentally founded assuming Ethernet-based technology.
All the who, what, when, where, and how in this day and age is based on connectivity. Everyone wants to have their devices connected to other devices and applications in a seamlessly interoperable fashion. But what does it really mean to have two devices connected together? What does it mean to have one device connected to hundreds of other devices? What is the real value stemming from the real benefits of this Internet of Everything architecture?
Fundamentally, there is great benefit of having devices able to be connected and communicate seamlessly in a plug-and-play environment. But the real value is the devices being able to communicate intelligently, exchanging data and information in such a fashion that the devices can understand each other, and most importantly, operate and use the data and information being exchanged A simple example of raw communication is two people that speak different languages; you can hear each other, but can you really share information intelligently without each of you speaking a common language? One can argue that two people speaking different languages is the equivalent of two devices being connected via IoT. Human to human language interaction is easily understood if you have to have a common language. Even if you speak the same geographical language, you still may not be able to communicate effectively because the dialogue may be domain specific. A physician presenting at a conference to all of their physicians about some technology in their field, most likely would not effectively communicate an understandable message to people outside of their domain or field.
The world already has been actively leveraging and evangelizing the whole concept of the Internet of Things, even though everyone seems to have a different definition of what the Internet of Things really means. What is the value proposition the Internet of Things brings when you start applying the technology and concepts to the industrial world? Every day I see at least 10 different product announcements in my email that claim to be IoT aware devices. I get another two product announcements about IoT device development kits, communicating how easy they are to use in the development of an xyz IoT device. The analysts last year told us that by the year 2020 there’s going to be 50+ billion IoT devices, now they’ve updated that number to 60+ billion devices.
The OPC Foundation has been actively working from a technical and educational front to make sure we have the right technology and infrastructure to make the Internet of Everything a reality. The focus of our technology and specifications is deliberately aligned to meet and exceed the requirements of the Internet of Everything providing a platform of communication that is secure and reliable, and most importantly addresses semantic and syntactic data and information integration. We are focused at making sure that the architecture and implementation is extensible to meet the undefined needs and use cases of the future.
OPC UA is becoming the infrastructure for communication and information modeling across industries and markets, leveraging the extensive collaborations that have become the basic principles of the OPC Foundation (we work together to achieve connected information interoperability in the Internet of Everything). The OPC community is (suppliers and end-users) using and developing products that one will call Industrial Internet of Things enabled. OPC UA is becoming the standard that all the suppliers are putting into their products to achieve secure, reliable, information integration.
The OPC Foundation is providing the best specifications, technology, and certification to address the opportunity of the Internet of Everything. We are proud to communicate that the platform Industrie 4.0 has specified and recommended OPC UA as the communication and information protocol. The OPC UA working group is also extending OPC UA to support publish/subscribe in addition to the well-known client/server architecture, and the publish/subscribe architecture is well-positioned to support IIoT device architectures, where typically there is one device pushing lots of data and information to hundreds of devices.
In 2016 the OPC Foundation will be actively participating in evangelizing the OPC UA solution worldwide and participating in numerous Internet of Everything events including “Industry of Things” San Diego, and “IoT World” in Barcelona (to name a few).