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Five Architectural Features that Make Connected Solutions Different: Resilience


I just got back from a trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I had an opportunity to share our vision for “solutions for a connected world” with an audience of more than 200 local automation professionals. At the end of the presentation we had time for Q&A, and one of the participants asked me “what was different” from what companies like his deploy today. In his experience, one could deliver a connected experience leveraging Captureexisting technology, and on an intellectual plane it was hard for me to disagree. Given enough time, resource availability and funding, I have seen automation engineers create amazing “connected world” solutions in a variety of industries.

So what is different? … It starts with architecture. So I thought I’d use the next few postings to go over my “top 5″ thoughts on the architecture required to create scalable connected world solutions, starting with resilience.

I Googled “resilience” and found “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” The definition fits perfectly.  Connected systems are likely to change over time, and “change” may come in many forms.

Some examples include:
(a) New nodes get added to the network (think about new machines in a process, new sites, etc.)
(b) The physical layout of the network or the production equipment may change
(c) Components (I/O, network elements, controllers, computers, software tools and applications) become obsolete and need to get upgraded or replaced
(d) New applications and analytics that can drive enhanced operations may be required

When faced with change, a resilient architecture is one that minimizes the impact of obsolescence and enables fast and safe deployment of new functionality. The expectation is that the system can be “always on,” safely, and that deploying a change involves minimal time and human intervention, again safely.

So, the first question to ask when thinking about participating in the connected world is whether the infrastructure chosen is resilient, or whether it will impose an entire new level of resiliency on the engineers deploying and maintaining it!

More to come …

Bernie Anger

About Bernie Anger

A firm believer in group think, Bernie is a visionary in leveraging Cloud technology for manufacturing and industrial applications. Look for Bernie on Twitter @bernieanger and follow his tweets about Cloud and its impact on our Connected World.

Comments (2)

  1. Where’t the “like” button. ;-)

    I agree 1000%, Bernie. These are key aspects of connected solutions. A few other important ones to consider:

    1) Heterogeneity : Because of the “perpetual change”, the architecture/infrastructure must be capable of connecting to and integrating with virtually anything, and of abstracting the differences and complexity so that the capabilities of the connected “things” can be easily consumed and extended

    2) Mobility and location awareness: not only can the “network” and the “physical layout” change, but people and related assets/entities move as well. Location awareness is an essential feature of a connected platform. When I worked as a production supervisor in the steel industry, I would wear out steel toed boots in 4-6 weeks, mostly from walking around trying to find stuff.

    3) Replaceability : related to #1 above, the ability to, in a rational manner, replace element(s) of the solution over time. This permits the solutions to leverage technological and functional innovations as they become available, not just on the 10-20 year system replacement cycle.

    Cheers,

    Rick

  2. Resilient Architecture – sounds very good as a Non-Functional Requirement that covers Scalability, Compatibility and InterOperability in one go.

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