Just about every day, one can pick up a technology journal or view an on-line technology article about what is new in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). These articles usually provide insight into IIoT solutions to business problems or how a specific technology component is evolving to provide a function that is needed.
Various industry consortia, such as the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), provides extremely useful documentation in defining key aspects of the IIoT architecture that the architect must consider. These broad reference architecture patterns have also begun to consistently include specific technologies and common components. The authors of the title Architecting the Industrial Internet felt the time was right for a practical guide for architects.The book provides guidance on how to define and apply an IIoT architecture in a typical project today by describing architecture patterns. In this article, we explore ten to-dos for Industrial Internet Architects designing these solutions.
Just as technology components are showing up in common architecture patterns, their justification and use cases are also being discovered through repeatable processes. The sponsorship and requirements for these projects are almost always driven by leaders in the line of business in a company. Techniques for uncovering these projects can be replicated as architects gain needed discovery skills.
Industrial Internet Architects To-dos:
- Understand IIoT: Architects first will seek to gain an understanding of what is different about the Industrial Internet, the evolution to specific IIoT solutions, and how legacy technology footprints might fit into that architecture.
- Understand IIoT project scope and requirements: They next research guidance from industry consortia and gather functional viewpoints. This helps to better understand the requirements their architecture must deliver solutions to, and the scope of effort they will face.
- Act as a bridge between business and technical requirements: They quickly come to realize that since successful projects are driven by responding to business requirements, the architect must bridge the line of business and IT divide present in many companies. They are always on the lookout for requirements and means to justify these projects.
- Narrow down viable IIoT solutions: Once the requirements are gathered and a potential project appears to be justifiable, requirements and functional viewpoints are aligned in preparation for defining a solution.
- Evaluate IIoT architectures and solution delivery models: Time to market of a proposed Industrial Internet solution is often critical to business sponsors. Most architecture evaluations include consideration of applications or pseudo-applications that can be modified to deliver the needed solution in a timely manner.
- Have a good grasp of IIoT analytics: Intelligence delivered by these solutions is usually linked to the timely analysis of data streams and care is taken in defining Lambda architectures (or Lambda variations) including machine learning and data management components and where analysis and response must occur.
- Evaluate deployment options: Technology deployment options are explored including the capabilities of proposed devices, networks, and cloud or on-premises backend infrastructures.
- Assess IIoT Security considerations: Security is top of mind today and proper design includes not only securing the backend infrastructure, but also extends to securing networks and the edge devices themselves.
- Conform to Governance and compliance policies: The viability of the Industrial Internet solution can be determined by whether proper governance is put into place and whether compliance standards can be met.
- Keep up with the IIoT landscape: While relying on current best practices, the architect must keep an eye on the future evaluating emerging architecture patterns and solutions.