How IoT and microservices can overcome the mass data challenge

Our planet is changing. An ever-growing population combined with a rapidly-escalating increase in traffic and the number of extreme weather events is putting continuous pressure on our infrastructure assets. IoT technology is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but increasingly a necessity when it comes to the future, across everything from smart devices in the home, to helping manage the smartest cities on the planet.

In the UK, the infrastructure challenges are ever-present, with a population that has increased by 8% since 2006, motorway traffic rising by 10% and extreme weather events occurring four times more frequently as our planet continues to change. These changes present clear challenges, both to private businesses and to the broader public sector, and planning for the future is a must, says Manish Jethwa, chief product & technology officer at Yotta.

To give our infrastructure the best chance of coping with this new environment, we can no longer take a reactive approach to maintenance and services. Today, a more predictive way of working is urgently required.

Sensors play a crucial role in this process. When placed on infrastructure assets such as highways, streetlights and drain gulleys, they essentially become the pulse of the road. Every minute, these devices feed back countless amounts of data into a communication network, which can then be passed to a management analytics device before being displayed in an application.

However, it is easy for data to become unmanageable when quantities continue to rise over terabytes and petabyte levels, where it becomes imperative that there is a sound infrastructure in place to mediate the collected data. That’s where meta-level data analytics can help. While businesses can use the cloud to help reduce the sheer amount of data that is being gathered by sensors and probes, it’s important to analyse what infrastructure is being used to hold and manage the data.

To ease the mass data challenge, a connected asset management platform such as Yotta’s new revolutionary Alloy can help extract large volumes of data collected through the help of microservices. Microservices are built as a suite of modular services that each have a specific role to perform.

These microservices are critical because they can help drive crucial data to the right places, which then allows data analysis to happen at a more general level. Microservices can also be built for predefined service levels for each sector. These thresholds can then be used to detect any notable changes in the sensors, such as a significant rise in traffic, or an increase in water levels within a drain.

Manish Yotta

A further example of this type of data collection in practice is the collection of temperature variations within cities. A process which may require a number of different sensors to collect regular readings. Microservices can provide a valuable service in reducing multiple measurements into key notifications of predefined thresholds being exceeded. It is easy to imagine similar technology being used to monitor noise and air pollution too.

While microservices play a vital role in ensuring data is collected in an efficient way, individual assets […]

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Internet Of Things: Five Ways To Overcome Security Challenges

The promise, benefits, and value of the Internet of Things (IoT) have been documented extensively, but a number of widely publicized IoT attacks leaves the impression that the IoT is deeply insecure. What is often not mentioned is that many of these attacks originated due to failures in implementing basic protections.

But even where the vendor has taken reasonable precautions, things can go horribly wrong, as can be seen in a – literally – fly-by attack on smart lighting.

Another challenge is that IoT-enabled devices are deployed “where the action is” – the factory floor, oil platforms, public roads, offices, stores, moving vehicles, or in cities running over wireless networks.

That means that they are often physically accessible by employees, contractors, and even the general public. If we compare that to modern cloud data centers, where only authorized personnel can enter, there is a substantial difference. More people with access means the risk of compromise goes up, so we may need to ensure devices themselves are physically protected against tampering.

But these are not insurmountable obstacles. The question is less one of not knowing what to do to protect IoT environments, rather how to implement and apply security measures to keep the solution safe.

Five recommendations for securing the IoT

1. Manage risk

Modern security practices follow a risk-based approach that considers both the ease of an attack and the impact should one happen – giving a strong indicator of how much security you’ll need. The reality is that an IoT solution that monitors, manages, and optimizes operations in a chemical factory requires much tighter security protocols than one that simply turns off the light in a conference room when sensors detect nobody is present. In the former, a successful attack could lead to a catastrophic industrial accident including injury and loss of life. In the latter, the worst that could happen is that an electricity bill is a little higher.

2. Limit device-to-device communication

There is a misconception that the Internet of Things, by definition, means that many devices are connected to many other devices, increasing the risk that a successful attack leads to catastrophic failure or takeover of a substantial portion of your IoT infrastructure. In many cases, devices have a single purpose and only need to send the data they collect to a single location. By limiting the number of IoT devices that talk to each other, we can better secure each one and limit the damage should any breaches occur.

3. Retain control over your IoT infrastructure

The risk is yours – any failure in security is your responsibility and you will be held accountable for the result – so it is important to maintain control. This starts with device selection: Make sure that devices either have the security features you need or, preferably, are “open” so you can analyze and understand how they work, and then add any features you need to fill security gaps. This includes the ability to update devices in an automated and secure way and to control that process yourself.

4. Use encryption from end to end

It’s critical to encrypt communication between devices and data-ingestion points to make sure nobody can listen in, tamper with sensitive data in transit, or recover enough information to spoof or impersonate the device and feed the system manipulated data. Modern encryption techniques work in much the same way as HTTPS does to protect information online. Encryption also needs to be tied to device identity to ensure the data we think comes from a particular device actually does.

5. Leverage existing expertise

Apply proven security technologies, tools, and best practices used in traditional IT landscapes. In many cases, they can be implemented directly: by using digital certificates or equivalent, by restricting what IoT devices can do and communicate with, and by adding protection and monitoring mechanisms. In other cases, such as micro-controllers and low-power networks, we may need to apply new techniques, but we can draw on existing principles and concepts.

IoT adoption is still in early days. Unfortunately, that means that there aren’t many established standards yet, and while the number of devices brought to market is quickly rising, certification schemes and regulations are lagging. As a result, adopters still need to carefully plan and build in security from the start and properly evaluate any IoT equipment brought in house.

As large technology providers recognize the security challenges with new IoT technologies and software solutions, the situation is rapidly improving. At SAP, we’re also committed to both describing the pitfalls and providing clear guidelines to overcome them.

This article originally appeared on the SAP Community.


Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

Assessing a sustainable IoT future: Why security and connectivity barriers must be overcome

What will the connected world look like in 2030? According to a new report from Wipro Digital, a sustainable future will be achieved but only if certain barriers are conquered first.

The report, developed together by Wipro and non-profit organization Forum for the Future, found that although 98% of business leaders are sure that data and connectivity will contribute to a sustainable future, only 50% of them utilise them to support such efforts.

According to the study, the future vision for an IoT driven connectivity can be achieved when business leaders overcome some barriers associated with IoT, data and connectivity. Some of the barriers highlighted in the report include security risks and lack of necessary governance for artificial intelligence and IoT.

The business leaders industry experts surveyed for preparing the report have highlighted some concrete examples in which IoT, data and connectivity can help in driving a sustainable future. These examples include the use of technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality to help in understanding global challenges and empathising in situations that are distant from the individual; and use of data to inform and empower citizens to express their views and ideas to create the future of their dreams.

Jayraj Nair, VP and global head of IoT at Wipro Limited, said: "IoT, data and connectivity are changing the way we live and work – disrupting industries and reshaping the social landscape. To ensure these advances have a positive impact on the future, grow our economies and drive sustainable efforts, we must successfully and efficiently harness these technologies. The Vision 2030 report imagines a world where we can do just that, and offers suggestions on how to make those visions a reality."

Elsewhere, a report from Navigant Research projected that the global combined cumulative revenue for IIoT devices, software and services will surpass $ 1 trillion by 2027.

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How Microsoft helps IoT pros take action to overcome challenges

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As IoT becomes more pervasive across industries like retail, manufacturing, energy, security, and healthcare, many businesses are beginning to get a handle on the latest tools and platforms that help streamline the implementation of IoT into their business models and processes.

Despite the excitement over IoT and what it can do, there are companies that still see a few challenges remaining.

At the Microsoft IoT in Action event earlier this year, we asked partners and customers to give us their thoughts on where they encountered bumps on the road to turning their IoT ideas into reality, and share some suggestions how to overcome them.

Here’s what they told us.

#1: How to get started

There are practical steps organizations can take to get started in IoT. Start with the devices that you already have and connect them, ensuring that you: 1) secure each component of your IoT infrastructure, 2) secure your data connection, and 3) use a secure cloud infrastructure that offers a great security posture from sensor to cloud. Be sure to focus on your niche and what you do well, connect with the right partners in your ecosystem, and provide value with the end customer in mind.

#2: Connectivity between devices

According to IoT experts, the key things you need to keep in mind when you’re looking into connectivity are: 1) the ability to connect devices to the platform you’ve chosen, so they can they talk to one another, 2) harvesting and storing your data, and 3) using analytics to take action on all the data, so you can do something important with it.

Highlights from the IoT in Action San Jose Event in March 2017

#3: Have an ecosystem and collaboration

There’s power in partnership when it comes to IoT. The days of working in silos and trying to dominate the business landscape are dying. To start implementing and receiving the benefits, tap into an ecosystem. Without one, it can be tricky knowing where your product and services fit into the broad industry and use-case solutions. 

It’s important to determine where you are in the value chain and then figure out which partnerships make sense. Other things the experts think you should keep in mind? For starters, you could look for partnerships with other ecosystems partners that have expertise in common industries or use cases. 

“The biggest challenge I see now is the lack of recipes to solve business problems. All the companies that are part of the IoT ecosystem need to create known-good recipes that we can refer to clients and decision makers to help them go to market quicker.”

Shawn Jack, Director of Sales & Embedded Ecosystems, Advantech

#4: Think about security

With more access points to information, comes the risk of data breaches. The question of cloud security still rears its head and with cyber-attacks in the daily news, it’s a valid concern. When you’re tapping into your ecosystem, look for a partner that addresses your security concerns right away (for customer and consumer scenarios) and offers solutions. Also, make sure you’re getting the most up-to-date, modern security patches and scenarios—from device to cloud.

“Security is where I start a lot of conversations with companies. They need to have a security solution that’s not only device-driven, but the way to manage devices through cloud scenarios.”

Rodney Clark, VP IoT Sales, Microsoft

#5: How do you make money?

When it comes to business models and how to generate revenue from your IoT investments, experts say that the key here is to find partners who provide flexibility and adapt to the environment of the customer—not the other way around. 

Most companies believe that having a few tools and a cloud partner are all they really need, but they still may not be sure how to implement those offerings. Partners that provide package solutions with tools that companies can quickly and easily use themselves, see a proof of concept quickly so they get management approval for the project, then go to production, will be the ones that make money. 

“The majority of IoT initiatives don’t really have a full plan, a plan that includes exactly what you are going to do, who you are going to address, what are the end deliverables, and how you are going to make money out of it.  Companies need to remember that it has to be commercially viable.”

Cameron Carr, Senior Marketing Channel Manager, Microsoft

#6: The software aspects & data analysis

So, once companies have collected all this data, what will they do with it?

One solution offered by experts is to make sure that as companies gather data and analytics back into their system, information is used to actually change the content dynamically. No one wants out-of-date data providing out-of-date results.

“The biggest challenge is the volume, the velocity, and the variety of the data we are collecting. It’s great to capture all this information, but what do you want to do with it?”

Joe Francica, Managing Director, Geospatial Industry Solutions at Pitney Bowes

#7: Deployment of the products after they are complete

The problem doesn’t seem to be the development of products. There are lots of cloud, gateway, and touch panel solutions that are IoT ready. The problem is getting them to the right partner.

That’s why connecting with like-minded partners will alleviate future IoT challenges, so customers, partners, and clients can reap the benefits.

Given the success of the IoT in Action event we partnered with ReadWrite in March 2017, we are doing it all again on 10/30 in Boston.

Register for IoT in Action with Microsoft in Boston and learn where else in the world you can connect with IoT ecosystem partners to take action on IoT.

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Three Stages for Leveraging IIoT Technologies to Overcome Manufacturing Challenges

Three Stages for Leveraging IIoT Technologies to Overcome Manufacturing Challenges
Manufacturers are under constant pressure to improve operational performance in four primary areas: Cost, Quality, Availability and Throughput. The challenge is to overcome rigid, complex and poorly integrated infrastructure and traditional technologies that are costly, “rip and replace” and slow to implement and evolve.

There’s a wave of transformation coming from the IIoT and the new technologies it presents, and it’s having a profound impact on manufacturers around the world.

Solutions to Manufacturing Challenges

Manufacturing executives are turning to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)/Industrie 4.0 to drive this new wave of continuous improvement in 2 key ways:

1) By making the factory:

    a. Connected (IT/OT convergence)
    b. Real-time
    c. Digitally integrated
    d. Predictive

2) By leveraging purpose-built IoT technology that is:

    a. Quick to deploy
    b. Quick to value
    c. Agile and continuously evolving
    d. Delivering modern experiences with web, mobile and augmented reality

Three Stages of Manufacturing Transformation

According to a 2016 LNS Research study, 51% of manufacturers surveyed will be investing in the IIoT in the next 12 months, and 75% are eventually expecting to invest in it. Manufacturers can leverage the IIoT to continuously improve their operational performance and flexibility through digital manufacturing, real-time intelligence and predictive analytics. There are three stages of Manufacturing Transformation: Understand, Advance and Outperform.

Stage 1: Understand

In the first stage of the transformation journey, manufacturers should consider taking these initial steps to get their arms around existing data, and gain real-time access to it:

  • Connect diverse and disparate assets, sensors, business systems and external data sources in real time
  • Broadcast real-time alerts about assets and performance anomalies
  • Simplify data in up-to-the-minute, role-based views of operational performance
  • Enhance existing infrastructure with smart sensors and modern technologies

Expected results include improved information quality & reliability, decreased unplanned downtime, increased operator efficiency, improved maintenance efficiency and improved product quality. By taking these steps, a leading transportation manufacturer used real-time Performance Visibility data to reduce unplanned downtime by 10-20%, with plant deployments taking just a matter of weeks.

Stage 2: Advance

Once the data is available in real-time format, manufacturers should then:

  • Apply predictive analytics to machine health (to alert when the machine might fail) and quality processes (if a certain parameter is trending downward, it can be quickly corrected)
  • Employ intuitive, in-context 3D and augmented reality to guide workers
  • Digitally design manufacturing processes & quality plans
  • Utilize agile methodologies to rapidly create & continuously evolve manufacturing applications

By implementing these processes, results can include accelerated continuous improvement, increased speed and flexibility, increased workforce efficiency, improved product quality and optimized maintenance processes. For example, a boat builder streamlined their product development and manufacturing processes using these techniques, which enabled them to deliver their product on-time and under budget for the first time ever.

Stage 3: Outperform

In the final stage, the goal is to extend these capabilities to an enterprise level, to include suppliers and:

  • Obtain supplier production visibility to gain early status into performance and quality
  • Synchronize resources to ensure flawless execution of production
  • Implement consistent KPIs and operations-wide performance benchmarking to identify and implement best practices
  • Deploy physical-digital closed- loop processes to drive continuous improvement

This will result in improved production processes, improved profitability, reduced unplanned downtime, shortened lead times and improved agility and responsiveness. One Fortune 50 Food and Beverage leader uses real-time visibility to improve productivity by 8-10%.

3 stages of Manufacturing Transformation: Understand, Advance and Outperform

For more information on the IIoT’s impact on manufacturing, download the Harvard Business Review article, How Smart Connected Products are Transforming Companies.
At LiveWorx 17, you’ll learn more about the IIoT and the Manufacturing Journey of Transformation presented by industry experts. LiveWorx is the premier IoT event for 6,000+ industry thought leaders, cutting-edge manufacturers, product development and service professionals, IoT innovators, developers and visionaries. In addition to IIoT, learn about IoT Strategies and Business Models, Industrie 4.0 / Smart Manufacturing, Analytics & Big Data, Security & Privacy, Digital Factories, Augmented Reality and more.

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