While much literature exists on industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms, there are very few detailed descriptions of the functional components that industrial enterprises require in an IoT platform. These functional components, sometimes called micro-services, are the underpinnings of IIoT platforms. MachNation, an industry analyst firm specialized in researching and testing of IoT platforms and middleware, has assembled a freely-available IoT platform functional architecture to help industrial enterprises ensure that they have the relevant platform microservices for their IIoT deployments.
Many IIoT use cases and deployments rely on the 24 microservices included in MachNation’s functional architecture. That said, each use case and deployment has unique requirements that determine the level of reliance on each microservice. For example, some factory automation solutions rely heavily on IoT edge-based processing.
For safety and compliance reasons, these solutions need machine data ingestion, processing, analytics, and control to be logically and geographically close to the automated assets. If these solutions relied on data and device management in the cloud rather than at the edge, latency or failures of communications between the IIoT devices and the cloud could create unsafe working conditions for employees or jeopardize equipment. For these reasons, enterprises deploying these types of factory automation solutions would likely rely heavily on the edge-based micro-services including:
- a rules engine associated with events processing
- edge data storage and machine data normalization associated with data management
- an edge-based IoT application
- edge analytics capabilities
- edge-based protocol adapters to provide pre-configured integrations to enterprise back-end applications like ERP, inventory management and others
While no vendor’s IoT platform provides all of the microservices defined in MachNation’s IoT platform architecture, the largest vendors provide most of the microservices. To understand the quality of various IoT platform vendors’ solutions and microservices based on hands-on, independent testing, MachNation has compiled a series of IoT Test Environment statistics.