Market trends show that edge computing will come to represent many implementation scenarios for the Industrial IoT (IIoT) in 2017. Adding new capabilities “at the edges” of existing OT and IT systems and Internet/cloud services is driving the evolution of the IIoT and the new business value-add it provides. Edge computing is also gaining increased recognition as the solution to the shortcomings of M2M for the IIoT (e.g. latency, resilience, cost, peer-to-peer, connectivity, security).
Thus, I predict that edge computing — connected embedded computing for the IIoT — will come of age in 2017. As part of this evolution, software-defined IIoT smart gateways will render hardware-defined M2M gateways obsolete, and edge computing appliances will increasingly serve as the IT/OT security firewall. Therefore, in the coming year, we’ll see continued growth of next-generation smart gateways and industrial servers supplying the edge platforms to support these IIoT demands. These gateways and servers host the software stacks that enable data connectivity from the sensor to the cloud, while also supporting edge compute and intrinsic security. They’ll also support fog computing architectures where applications can add value at the most appropriate place in an end-to-end IIoT system – at the device, on the edge appliance, or in the IT/cloud environment.
This multi-tiered architecture will come to define the IIoT and provide the ubiquitous (and secure) data accessibility and distributed systems capabilities needed to support new vertical solutions in, for example, smart factories, intelligent transportation systems, and integrated health care systems. Other major developments we see for the IIoT in 2017:
- Real-time (edge) analytics and IT/OT security become two of the key drivers for new IIoT platform/infrastructure deployments.
- IT departments will exert more influence over the requirements for OT systems connected to corporate IT systems or the Internet.
- The edge will become the vendor battleground in IIoT markets between traditional CT, IT, and OT vendors.
- Users will move from tactical to strategic IIoT thinking as previously deployed point-solutions (e.g. most M2M systems) reveal more functional limitations and IT management issues.
- Major IT systems integrators will begin to offer “managed solutions” for edge computing in addition to their “managed services” for cloud computing.
- Interoperability and legacy integration problems will be reduced with connector technologies, data normalization, and shared micro-services delivered in/on “smart gateways.”
- The potential for hacking OT systems, possibly through IT connections, is increasingly becoming a concern. Security at the edge will be positioned as an IT/OT firewall.
So, look out for edge computing to become a big deal in 2017.