Other than taking steps to ensure secure data and configuring proxies, the network changes the company has had to make to accommodate its IoT initiative have been “minimal,” Sandler says.
“However, I would point out that Rockwell approached the concept of an IoT gateway from the perspective of being as low impact as possible.”
The company’s experience with industrial automation, and the fact that Rockwell makes many of the devices its gateways connect to, help ensure a seamless connection between its industrial equipment and the cloud, says Sandler. That’s not a claim every industrial manufacturer can make.
“This is actually an area that deserves some critical attention,” he says. “Most of the industrial automation equipment in factories today has been in operation longer than the concept of IoT and the cloud. As a result, making additional connections to those devices and asking for data at arbitrary rates runs the risk of impacting the actual ability for those automation devices to perform their job of controlling the process.”
One suggestion Sandler has for preparing networks for IoT is to choose a solution partner that understands the company’s data sources.
“Failure to do this could significantly impact the network between your gateway and control systems, and even impact the automation itself,” he says.
In addition, “make sure the security strategy of your gateway aligns with your company guidelines,” Sandler said. “Our strategy around the gateway only making outbound calls and only to specific secured endpoints is designed to limit the risk of an outside threat reaching into the plant. There are certainly other security considerations as well as other ways to handle them, [but] make sure the gateway is consistent with your overall network security strategy.”
Iot devices need careful network configuration to insure bandwidth
Thoroughly testing IoT devices before they’re deployed is also a good idea, but this too makes unique demands on network infrastructure.
Marist College is engaged in advanced research with a company that’s an incubator in the late stages of IoT product and service development (the college cannot identify the company due to a non-disclosure agreement). The technology collects bio-digital health information through wireless access directly from sensors worn by people at some level of health risk.
The sensors gather data such as body temperature, heart rate and other indicators of a person’s general health. Predictive algorithms compare any changes in these vital signs over time, and if any single vital sign or combination of signs change, that could indicate a decline in the person’s health.
The monitoring devices must persistently stream data using secure wireless protocols to remain constantly connected to monitoring systems and medical services.
“Our data science researchers have the opportunity to use big data—billions of events—to develop and prove advanced predictive processes, utilize machine learning, track interventions, and watch the effect of different variables in real time,” says Bill Thirsk, vice president of IT and CIO at Marist. “It is a perfect environment to develop cognitive computing with impact.”
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