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Industrial & Enterprise IoT Platform: Key Attributes

Industrial & Enterprise IoT Platform: Key Attributes

With a plethora of different IoT platforms currently on the market, it’s imperative to choose the one that will perfectly suit the digital solution you would like to build. Since most of the projects are realised in the enterprise and industrial sector, knowing the key attributes of both enterprise and industrial IoT platforms is much of a help in your decision-making process. This is why we have decided to elaborate on each of these platforms in this article.

Let’s first understand the difference between these two segments.

What’s the Difference between Industrial and Enterprise IoT?

Sure, enterprise IoT overlaps somewhat with industrial IoT.

Enterprise IoT connects diverse technologies to enable new business applications that connect with physical objects and enterprise systems (ERP, CRM, WMS, MRP). Its real value comes from data. With the developments in Big Data processing and analysis, the insights derived from the IoT data sets are becoming invaluable for enterprise decision-makers. Enterprise IoT applications can be implemented across multiple verticals, including agriculture, healthcare, as well as government and cities.

On the other hand, Industrial IoT (IIoT) is more related to the heavier industries such as oil and gas, utilities and manufacturing. It is also known as Industry 4.0 or the Industrial Internet. Technologies like real-time stream analysis and machine learning enable predictive maintenance and proactive monitoring of expensive industrial equipment. Apart from exploiting the sensor data sets, the essential element of industrial IoT is actually the ability to connect the legacy devices to IoT platforms.

To help you get a clearer picture of the difference between the two, we’ll try to explain it through an illustrative example.

Imagine a commercial building trying to incorporate smart technology in its design and daily operations. To achieve that, they would have to create a suite of IoT-enabled services with an enterprise IoT platform as a core of their solution. In this way, they would improve building efficiency.

Or, let’s say a manufacturer wants to monitor the efficacy of critical machinery in a plant. In that case, they would have to rely on a digital solution driven by industry-oriented IoT platform to capture and analyse machine status data in real-time, and ultimately, preventing any loss of production. Here one of the keywords is “predictive maintenance”, an essential pillar of Industrial IoT.

In a nutshell, while enterprise IoT helps optimise workplace operations and workflow automation in the business environment, IIoT aims to achieve maximum efficiency and smooth workflow in any process or unit within the industrial environment.

Although some functionalities and services overlap, each of these platforms has somewhat unique operational processes, principles, users and goals designed to meet your specific business needs. This article highlights the key attributes each platform should have to enable you to build your digital solution. Do note that both of these platforms share all of the attributes listed below, while some of them are of particular importance for enterprise or industrial IoT platforms.

Enterprise IoT Platform: Key Attributes

To take the pulse of enterprise IoT, you need an IoT platform whose key attributes align with the requirements of your enterprise solutions. Your enterprise IoT platform should provide you with the following capabilities:

  1. Managing a large number of devices - Your enterprise IoT solution requires a flexible device management system that can easily onboard, off-board and manage a large number of devices in bulk. Plus, it should provide a mechanism to support a variety of contemporary and emerging protocols to deliver the full control of devices, regardless of their make, model or manufacturer. Finally, your IoT platform should scale to meet the pace and magnitude of connected devices growth. This kind of platform can store a warehouse of data and manage billions of transactions in real time.
  2. Multi-tenancy and fine-grained access control - We should emphasise a major difference between creating several customers, a.k.a. tenants on the platform and creating several users with different permissions within a single tenant. Tenants are physically separated data spaces with own users, separate application management and no sharing of data by default. Your enterprise solution needs a natively multi-tenant platform which would allow you to host countless customers running differently branded digital applications without the risk of data leakage. Within a single tenant, you also need fine-grained control over your users and their access rights. For example, not all employees should have access to every device or its data, nor should they have the ability to change the settings. That means such devices should have ways to display what data, exactly, they are sharing and who they are sharing it with.
  3. Integration with enterprise systems - Enterprise IoT platform should provide you with an easy way to add new integrations to enterprise systems. By integrating with existing enterprise applications, you can create a master application that would let you streamline your work and get the most value from your data.
  4. Security and privacy at every level of the stack - Security should be embedded at every level of the platform. Your platform should provide end-to-end data protection ensuring that personal data is not accessible to unauthorised viewers. Most importantly, it should support per-device authentication and authorisation to enforce enhanced security. Also, the platform needs to offer a robust and proven security model that will keep your system secure and data safe. Finally, it should be ISO 27001 accredited, which demonstrates that you have taken all the necessary steps to implement internal security practices and protect your business.
  5. Data analysis - Data analytics should be an integral part of the enterprise connected solution. Why? Through data analysis, raw data is transformed into meaningful information that will help end-users draw key insights to make their decisions move forward.


Industrial IoT Platform: Key Attributes

Similar to enterprise IoT platform, there are some attributes every industrial IoT platform should have to help you create game-changing industrial business models:

  1. Deployment flexibility - Whether your business demands on-premise deployment to keep full control or a private or a public cloud-based option for increased availability, your platform must be flexible in providing different deployment options. Do note that the industry environment might favour on-premises deployment due to the need for security and low-latency response. This allows you to have direct control over configuration, management and security of data. The best IIoT platform even allows you to install it in a network without Internet access.
  2. Legacy architecture flexibility - Legacy operational technologies aren’t going away. To adapt your IIoT solution to legacy architecture, you need to invest in an IIoT platform that brings connectivity to legacy machines and tools. To do so, it needs to support legacy communication protocols mainly used for industrial automation processes such as Modbus TCP, Modbus RTU, Profibus, Profinet, EtherCAT, CAN, OPC-UA. This allows you to tap into data anywhere, anytime.
  3. Industry-grade architecture - In a mission-critical environment, you need to be able to rely on an IoT platform that is designed to be stable, dependable and fault-tolerant from services’ perspective. This is why it needs to be tested for availability under the most traffic-intensive work environments, with fault tolerance, efficient failover and disaster recovery solutions. Plus, it should support low-latency bidirectional communication between devices and the platform to easily detect anomalies and react in near real-time.
  4. Security - Industrial IoT requires more robust measures than other types of use cases. This is why security should be embedded in every layer of the platform. From authentication and authorisation at both user and device level to a wide array of configurable security auditing and logging, there are many advanced security measures your platform should support.
  5. Future-proof architecture - Industrial IoT platform should be designed for the long haul. Factories and the equipment inside them are 20-to-50-year investments. Every equipment and software associated with industrial IoT has to be rugged and modular, so it can be upgraded easily.

Take the Next Step

Once you determine the core technology of your digital solution, dive deep into your own business requirements and search for the IoT platform vendor that provides all the much-needed functionalities to simplify and accelerate your digitisation. To find the answers to most common questions you might come across on your decision-making journey, check out our white paper Choosing the right IoT platform: a complete guide.

WolkAbout IoT Platform: the Key Player on Your Digital Journey

WolkAbout IoT Platform is an application enablement platform that includes a complete set of must-have requirements designed to simplify industrial device connections and rapidly develop powerful digital applications regardless of whether they are built in industrial or enterprise sector.

It is a secure, extensible and technology-agnostic foundation that provides you with a holistic, unified view of your industrial or enterprise environment.

WolkAbout IoT Platform is:

  • Industry-ready: It helps you be prepared for ultra-reliability, scalability, low-latency and high-data throughput. It ensures interoperability between multiple connectivity technologies and immediate availability of data in heterogeneous manufacturing systems with high fault-tolerance.
  • Agnostic and independent: It lets you connect any device, with any protocol, over any network. You can deploy the solution on-premise, in a public or private cloud, or as a multi-layered hybrid. You can also choose to use the Platform without Internet connectivity. Of course, you can integrate with any enterprise applications.
  • Flexible for legacy architecture: It allows you to bring connectivity to legacy machines and tools by fitting them with a simple gateway mechanism, thus providing you with complete control over your assets.
  • Secure and GDPR compliant: Our Platform keeps your ecosystem secure and data safe with a robust and proven security model:
    • Authentication and authorisation at both user and the device level
    • The encryption of data-in-transit and data-at-rest
    • TLS protocol to secure communication
    • Role-based user provisioning and access control lists
    • A wide array of configurable security auditing and logging

We strongly believe in this march into the digital world and will invest heavily into turning your vision into reality, from making complex things simple to accelerating and taking risks out of your journey.

To get more details, download our brochure.

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