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19 December 2019

IIC steps up to be Industrial IoT middleman, pushes OneM2M paper too

The Industrial Internet Consortium has announced its new Industry Connect Service (ICS) pilot project, which will see the IIC play matchmaker between industrialists that have a desire and the vendors that can provide that service. Pitching it as open to all, regardless of size apparently, with the lessons learned being fed back to the community by the IIC.

The new strategy seems like an attempt to inject some pace into the market, and comes only a week after the IIC released a joint whitepaper with OneM2M – an example of how progress within industry organizations doesn’t necessarily translate into actual progress out in the field.

The industrial sector is a bit of a contradiction in the IoT. It is one of the most advanced fields, but simultaneously, it is an island unto itself, where many would not consider themselves part of the wider Internet of Things. This is largely because most industrial projects are private affairs, done for specific projects or locations, and almost always to the benefit of the industrialist itself.

These projects are not really in the same vein that something like a smart city might inhabit. They are not cross-platform, inter-business, and to the benefit of all. Most of the prominent Industry 4.0 projects are focused on solving a specific business problem, and aren’t looking for ways to incorporate any but the most essential third-parties. To these types, the ‘data lake’ is a desired outcome – private, safe, kept in the pocket.

In addition, these projects are often commenced internally, or promoted and then provided by a trusted systems integrator, which really limits the amount of evangelizing and involvement that outside parties can have on the decision. The IIC’s new ICS initiative should help solve some of those insularity issues.

The project see participants submit their particular problem to the IIC’s membership team, at which point, IIC members get to play matchmaker and link these problems to their potential solutions. The goal, as stated, is for these expert members to guide companies through digital transformation initiatives.

 

“IIC is the world’s leading IIoT consortia, comprised of leaders in the development and adoption of IIoT and emerging technologies,” said Howard Kradjel, IIC Vice President, Industry Programs. “IIC member experts have developed best practices, guidelines and frameworks and have applied these resources across many industries. Their knowledge and insight can help technology users transform their businesses. We look forward to the projects the ICS will bring to our ecosystem and the opportunity for our membership to deliver direct value to technology users.”

The joint whitepaper with OneM2M is interesting. Titled ‘Advancing the Industrial Internet of Things,’ you will not be surprised to hear that it concerns how the OneM2M framework can be put to use in this matter. It aims to tell developers how they can reduce the complexity of their designs, and ‘leverage different architectural approaches side-by-side to enable faster-time-to-market of new Industrial services and use cases.’

The paper lists five people as its authors, two from Huawei, and one each from InterDigital, Yo-I, and RTI, with Qualcomm, Nokia, XMPro, Toshiba, and the IIC cited as contributors. It is worth a read if you are at all interested in how large platforms need to interact with each other, and OneM2M is a genuinely transformative approach – but one that has had slow uptake in the wider market.

Essentially, the paper explores how the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA) can be used alongside OneM2M’s guidelines, which essentially collate a number of standards into what is effectively a unified approach to building IoT applications and platforms – a ‘common service layer.’

The pair note that ‘commonalities discovered from this analysis set the stage for future collaboration to explore new requirements for interoperability across   multiple dimensions including interworking between subsystems in factories, large machines and shared work environments.”

There is decent overlap between the two groups’ memberships, and they claim that IIoT designers that leverage the OneM2M common service layer may benefit from the analysis of business concerns as described in the IIC’s IIRA business viewpoint analysis, as the IIC is not so focused on standards, and instead more on defining business problems that can then guide RFPs and consultations.

“The IIC Industrial Internet Reference Architecture and the oneM2M technical specification both seek to address key architectural and technical issues common across industries, each with a different approach and emphasis,” said Shi-Wan Lin, Co-chair, IIC Technology Working Group and Architecture Task Group and a co-editor of the whitepaper. “This joint whitepaper by technical experts from these two communities provides an initial mapping and alignment of these two complementary reference architectures and offers guidance on how to benefit from them when implementing IIoT systems.”

“This liaison initiative highlights the strategic importance of architecture models and the need for a standardization roadmap for industrial IoT solutions. It provides a foundation for future collaboration on security and semantic interoperability topics,” said Ken Figueredo of InterDigital Inc, a member of the oneM2M Partnership Project, and co-editor of the report. “oneM2M and the IIC are also expecting more standardization requirements to arise from new industrial use-cases across the manufacturing, transportation, energy, agriculture, healthcare and public infrastructure sectors.”