Part 1: Introduction
What is the IoT? Is it really just a fancy word for the Internet? Yes and no. The Internet of Things is the promise of a world where billions of connected devices are connected to us and to each other, making decisions for us, coordinating among themselves, collecting and collating information, and generally relieving us of the mundane aspects of living in the physical world.
We’ve had the Internet for enough time now that it has become embedded in our lives. My (adult) kids don’t remember a world without it. The IoT is, at its most basic level, a continuation of that embedding. Instant communication is taken for granted among people, and plenty of mature products provide it. Is there anything really novel about devices participating in that communication alongside people?
In a word, yes. Not novel in the sense that we need entirely new technologies to achieve this data communication among devices, but novel in the sense that a whole raft of new problems arise from it. The IoT is going to remain nothing but a promise until those problems are solved (shameless plug here: I’m writing this from a backward-facing perspective. We at Skkynet have solutions for the problems I will discuss in this series).
So what is the Industrial IoT (IIoT)? Does it require a different way of thinking about IoT, relative to the “regular” IoT? Not really, the IIoT just has greater consequences. If somebody hacks your refrigerator, your food gets too hot or cold, or you become an unwitting source of spam email. If somebody hacks your industrial process they could shut down an expensive line, damage equipment, injure people, or even put critical infrastructure out of service. That said, the data communication, network security, privacy, speed, latency and accessibility issues surrounding the IoT are the same in the IIoT, just with more urgency.
On the other hand, is the IIoT simply the application of IoT technology to industrial applications? Not really; rather, it is the application of IoT concepts to industrial applications. This series of articles will examine some of these concepts related to communication for the Industrial IoT. Even that is a very big topic, covering data acquisition, protocol gateways, cloud protocols, data storage, big data analysis, reliability, fault tolerance and security. To keep things short we will narrow the conversation further to look at data acquisition, communication and security.