Open architecture enables edge-computing applications Fragmentation and vendor lock-in are preventing companies from adopting IoT solutions to remotely manage devices at the edge. There is a need for standard-based, flexible and modular device application frameworks to develop IoT and edge-computing applications. TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION, together with a steady decline of the price of sensors and devices, has led to a constant increase in the number of interconnected devices. Billions of devices will reportedly be interconnected in the next years. The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is based on the assumption that devices are becoming smarter, thanks to advanced software applications which allow simple and cost-effective communications among them. Edge vs. cloud computing Traditional IoT cloud architectures are based on physical assets which collect data and send them to cloud data centers for further analysis. However, for some field applications latency is not an option. Data has to be managed at the field level and response must be immediate, and cloud computing might not be the best option. There is a need to bring the data center to the field. In addition, bandwidth and infrastructure costs become an issue when huge amount of data need to be transferred (e.g. via cellular connectivity); local data management is usually limited to some filtering, triggering or averages in order to make “distilled” information. Reducing system architecture complexity is a key success factor in IIoT applications as well as turning field devices into edge computers. They become able to process data and apply intelligence, so that only the data which have already been analyzed are published to the cloud. This simplifies business applications development and leads to increased productivity. Moreover, bringing IoT application development to the field implies that edge computing can reduce the gap between information (IT) and operations technology (OT). Interoperability between the factory and the office becomes possible thanks to IoT edge devices that securely connect the service platform layer with the factory environment. These powerful edge devices, or next generation gateways, become bridges for IT/OT communication that benefit both layers. IT has a direct and remote access to field processes and devices, whereas OT can interact with data analytics and other advanced applications to optimize production processes. Java and OSGi for edge computing platforms Even if some effort has been put in place in order to provide some standards and common protocols there are still some barriers that are responsible for slowing down the process of adopting IoT solutions such as vendor lock-in and fragmentation. At the edge, “things” connect to field machines through sensors, actuators, controllers, agents and gateways. There are numerous cloud platforms for data storage and analysis, and in several cases, each of them has its own communication protocols. Therefore, IoT solutions are usually tied to specific vendors, generating deeper fragmentation between IT and OT. Java-based device application frameworks in the Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi) model can speed application development at the IoT edge-device level, as well as offer advanced remote management capabilities not available through traditional embedded agents. As a matter of fact, still some of the agents are often constrained on specific hardware and mostly hard coded in C/C++, preventing developers to apply changes (they are rarely allowed to access some APIs to set a few parameters). Those agents cannot ensure advanced remote management capabilities. Remote maintenance, over-the-air updates and upgrades are difficult to perform, and developers often have to start from scratch to upgrade the devices. At the edge-device level, a more robust and open device application framework is desirable to enable advanced device management features. A Java/OSGi-based application development framework offers a portable, modular and flexible solution to easily communicate with cloud-based management platform and develop advanced IoT applications for remote monitoring and control. Advanced device management Companies are interested in more advanced remote management capabilities and broad access to a wider range of parameters to control field devices. For example, a multi-national manufacturing company would want to remotely access data coming from its plants distributed worldwide, in order to monitor them and perform predictive maintenance and software updates, thus reducing maintenance costs and optimizing the production line. This kind of advanced device management can be achieved with an edge-computing platform, and Java/OSGi is the best way to ensure open standards, modularity, flexibility and a standard interface. 28 industrial ethernet book 11.2017 SOURCE: WSTERMO Technology Java/OSGi-based building blocks for developing IoT applications.
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