Many have referred to the Internet of Things (IoT) as the “third wave” of the internet evolution. Consumers can’t help but notice the increasing array of connected devices coming online, ranging from washing machines and refrigerators to personal fitness trackers and automobiles, and even intelligent machines imbedded into our clothing, that are popping up everywhere. What many consumers may not realize is that industry is also getting on board in a big way with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). At FrameFlow, we’re acutely aware of how the growing IIoT is dramatically impacting our commercial world, and how important it is to monitor the performance of IIoT devices and sensors.
IIoT Usage and Adoption is Exploding
It is widely predicted that there will be an explosion in IIoT usage and investment within the next 10 – 15 years:
General Electric predicts investment in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is expected to top $60 trillion during the next 15 years. – Forbes
The convergence of data, people and smart machines will transform productivity, efficiency and operations on a global economic scale. Using rich data sets, from a wide range of sensors and intelligent devices, IIoT applications are predicated to add significant efficiencies to supply chain management, manufacturing processes and service delivery, while helping to address major obstacles in complex logistics.
Providing machines with the ability to quickly and reliably talk to each other is one of the obvious benefits of the IIoT, but the capacity to collect data from sensors about their performance or a variety of critical conditions (think temperature and humidity in a server room) in real time, for analysis and corrective adjustments, is transformative.
IIoT Powering the Future of New York State
A clear example of industrial transformation driven by the IIoT is the case of the New York Power Authority (NYPA). Like other large power utilities in the U.S., the NYPA has been operating pretty much the same way for the past 75 years with large, centralized power plants pumping out electricity to homes and industry via high-voltage transmission lines. In the wake of increasingly frequent and destructive storms, like Hurricane Sandy, there is a push to strengthen and modernize the energy system in New York State, while also incorporating the use of alternative energy sources to help combat climate change, by leveraging the IIoT:
Those big power plants and high-voltage transmission lines are still part of the equation, but so are community solar power, wind farms, microgrids, battery storage and more…. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is at the center of those efforts — the process starts with the merger of the physical and the digital, connecting energy-producing machines (like gas and hydro turbines) to analytics software via sensors. – CIO.com
As part of this transformation, monitoring to ensure that all devices and machines are operating as they should be is critical for the reliability of the New York State energy grid. Performance monitoring systems need to keep up with the influx of new traffic from these reporting devices on the network, and to account for any new devices, power sources etc. as they come online, regardless of the communication standards, with enough granularity to accurately pinpoint any trouble spots.
Rolls Royce Brings On-The-Fly Engine Tuning to New Heights
Another example of a large industrial player taking full advantage of the IIoT is Rolls Royce with their use of intelligent aero engines, which power more than 50,000 flights around the world each month. Rolls Royce is leveraging Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite to expand the ‘digital awareness’ of engine components to ensure maximum aircraft efficiency and availability, while reducing maintenance costs and downtime:
To do that, Rolls-Royce offers a broad range of service solutions, including its industry-leading TotalCare® services, focused on keeping its customers’ engines generating maximum value for them. One key to delivering these services is observing trends and anomalies and using the right data to help airlines determine what actions to take to save money or improve operations. – Microsoft.com
Impact of IIoT on Existing IT Infrastructure: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
The implementation, maintenance and monitoring of the IIoT is no trivial task. Barely a week goes by when we don’t hear about security concerns with IoT devices being taken over by bots for distributed denial of service attacks or used for some other kind of ill-intent, such as spying on unsuspecting TV watchers. Underneath the headlines, however, is a very basic requirement that IoT (and IIoT) devices function as intended, for their promised productivity gains to be realized. Issues of reliability and accuracy all come into play, especially as industry scales up in its adoption of IIoT devices and infrastructure.
Security issues aside, having an influx of IIoT usage as part of normal business operations can result in a dramatic increase in IP-enabled devices on your corporate network, raising additional areas of concern. For example, will your IP address spaces become exhausted? Will a new segmented VLAN be required to handle the influx of network traffic?
IIoT devices are also vulnerable to issues relating to the limits of existing IT infrastructure, including WiFi channels that might already be maxed out, the speed and consistency of internet connections and the reliability of network hardware. The performance of these critical infrastructure elements, along with the IIoT devices themselves and the servers that process the data and coordinate the machines, needs to be monitored and analyzed to ensure your IIoT ecosystem is working as required and providing reliable information upon which important management decisions can be based.
Unify All Your IIoT Monitoring in One Highly Scalable Platform
FrameFlow allows you to scale-up and monitor tens of thousands of IIoT connected servers, devices and IT systems, replacing native monitoring systems with one unified platform. FrameFlow provides customized alerts to the right managers over a variety of channels including SMS, email and Slack. We’re also constantly striving to improve our software to handle the pending surge in IIoT adoption.
Last November, we were pleased to announce that FrameFlow now includes robust monitoring options for the versatile and lightweight MQTT messaging protocol, allowing our software to monitor the status of a virtually unlimited number of IIoT devices.
In the pending major release of the latest version of FrameFlow v2017.1, among a variety of upgrades, we’ve been able to dramatically increase our monitoring throughput for multiple IT systems. Our internal testing (with a quad-core virtual machine) showed that we could monitor over 1000 nodes at 65% CPU usage: That’s an incredible 2400 monitoring ops per second, or over 43 million in a 24-hour period!
If you would like to see how FrameFlow can help you keep your servers going and your networks flowing by detecting IT issues that could negatively impact business operations, we invite you to give FrameFlow a free spin for 30 days… no obligation or credit card required!