Using the internet for industrial purposes has just become a tad easier. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) – the member-driven global organization that promotes the accelerated growth of the IIoT – has published version 1.8 of the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA). The new version builds on version 1.7, which was originally published in June 2015. Version 1.8 incorporates emerging new IIoT technologies, concepts, and applications.
The new architecture can be obtained by clicking here.
The IIRA is a standards-based architectural template and methodology designed by a broad spectrum of IIC members, including system and software architects and security experts. The goal is to assist system architects in designing IIoT solution architectures consistently, while also helping them deploy interoperable IIoT systems.
The update was created by studying the deployment of IIoT systems that used the earlier version of the IIRA. “We’re trying to capture cross-industry use cases and refine the architecture we released in 2015,” Mark Crawford, open standards strategist at SAP, told Design News. Crawford is also the co-chair of the architecture task group within the IIC. “In this new version, the reference architecture is designed for common views to be consistent with ISO 42010. We wanted to facilitate interoperability so the systems developer can use the same architecture across multiple industries.”
Not Just for Industrial Internet Systems
Crawford explained that those multiple industries include consumer IoT as well as industrial IoT. “While we have a partnership with Industry 4.0 for manufacturing, people need to understand that the IIC is dealing with a broader scope,” said Crawford. “Even within the consumer IoT, there are forms of industrial internet. We’re going to see more and more of those relationships between the consumer IoT and the IIoT, so the reference architecture and the security need to be available for both the industrial and consumer sides.”
The new version of IIRA focuses on the process of developing IIoT system rather than the actual technology involved. “The hurdles with 1.7 were not technical. There was no cry from members on the concepts needed to architect an IIoT system. We were getting praise from systems architects,” said Crawford. “We’ve improved the architecture so that each viewpoint leads into the next viewpoint and as systems architects move through it. It helps to validate and revise the previous viewpoints.”
The IIC is making the document available widely, not just to IIC member companies. “We want to create an IIoT ecosystem. We want to share the document as widely as possible,” said Crawford. “We share with our members even as we’re developing it so it will be understandable when it’s approved.”
Crawford made it clear that the IIRA is not a standard and nor does it give specific guidance on which of the competing standards are best to deploy. “What’s delivered by the IIC are technical reports that can be considered requirements. We are not delivering standards,” said Crawford. “We’re the only international cross-sector that are focused on requirements rather than standards.”
Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.