Why bring the app economy to industrial IoT? Imagine you can have your IoT use cases in seconds, by simply installing an app. Asset tracking, condition monitoring, anomaly detection – what if there were an app for each of those scenarios, you could download these apps instantly, and install them on your machines within minutes? Some decades ago, the app economy – then confined to mobile platforms – started with the slogan ‘there’s an app for that’. Now, apps are coming to the world of IIoT. Complex use cases – packaged as IoT apps – can run on industrial PC, LPCs, sensors, and legacy machines. Here is how.
IoT orchestration is complex and costly. Security, privacy, and performance issues are omnipresent. Against this backdrop, a shift towards modular services and service-centric site-specific use case management becomes an exciting alternative to classic ways of doing IoT. Using IoT apps installed on local edge devices holds the promise of being user-centric, open to non-specialists, and taking on a democratic approach to data. Further, apps are easy to use, lightweight, and do not require specialized knowledge to operate. So here are some of the greatest advantages of IoT apps:
- high usability
- a flat learning curve
- simple functionality
- control of the full app lifecycle
- highly affordable
Driving the Transition to an Industrial IoT App Economy
At Record Evolution, we drive the transition to an industrial IoT app economy. We have built an overarching management architecture including an IoT app store, device management, and data management functionalities. With it, we offer a multi-tenant environment for the development, distribution, deployment, and management of IoT apps. This way, we achieve high levels of service modularisation and significantly reduce the complexity of building and implementing IoT use cases.
How do we do this?
Reusable IoT Building Blocks & Orchestration Services
Complex applications are modularised into smaller microservices that implement reusable building blocks. At the same time, orchestration services dynamically compose other services for implementing complex scenarios.
And our focus is on IoT at the edge so that our approach is edge-based while we cater to the entire IoT development cycle from the edge to the cloud.
Enlisting Creativity: Third-party App Developers
Shifting to an app ecosystem can unleash tremendous creative potential. It enables the launch of IoT use cases at a significantly greater pace and lower cost as compared to conventional implementation scenarios. But even more so, it gives third-party app developers the needed visibility in the form of a platform where they showcase their work. This way, the app economy bridges the gap between industrial enterprises and individual creators. Companies are now in a position to communicate with app developers directly, co-develop custom IoT applications with them, and so further contribute to expanding the wealth of knowledge around IIoT.
In such settings, multi-tenancy is key and the app economy differentiates between various types of independent actors. At the app store level, these include third-party developers, IoT app store operators, IoT infrastructure enablers, and IoT app store users. On the user end, we can differentiate between plant operators, suppliers, external experts, creators, and more. Each user profile can be set up using granular access management features.
Elements of the IoT App Economy Infrastructure
The Record Evolution IoT app store comes with a solid infrastructure that makes it possible to perform app lifecycle management at scale, enabling any of the following:
- App development
- Release management
- Configuration management
- Update management
- Lifecycle management
- Security management
This way, the IoT app store is not simply an open and inclusive ecosystem that connects app creators with app users and enables the formation of a network of third-party app development services. It is also a solid tool, equipped with all the necessary functionalities to enable hardware-independent apps for industrial IoT use cases on any device, with no change in the existing device landscape.
In the IoT marketplace, again, there are at least three different types of actors:
- App users explore, buy, and provision apps to enhance their existing application ecosystems.
- App developers sell their apps through the app store and occasionally collaborate on the creation of custom apps.
- Plant operators in industrial settings can buy, download, and run the apps on their local machines within the context of various use cases that increase operational efficiency.
Elements of the Open Marketplace
The IoT app store is an open ecosystem where app developers offer their products and where app users can search, buy, and install IoT apps directly on their devices. Users are able to deploy apps over the air from the IoT app store to any IPC, PLC, sensor, or piece of legacy industrial equipment. Developers can create and sell apps globally while offering ongoing support to a global user community. To make this level of openness and high availability a reality, the IoT app store comes with the following components:
- Device certification to ensure compatibility between the IoT apps and the connected devices. Individual certificates are issued for each connected device.
- App certification that extends to the app itself and all subsequent app updates, ensuring high performance, security and privacy.
- Support for various architectures, operating systems, and industry protocols. In order to guarantee true interoperability, the IoT app store needs to support a broad range of edge devices.
- Over-the-air deployment directly from the app store, with bulk one-click deployments to multiple devices and device groups.
- App monitoring and control from within the app store, with an overview of all apps on a device, the app status (stopped, running or failed), and various app maintenance options.
- App licensing to protect developer IP and regulate illegal use.
- Global accessibility and support.
About Record Evolution
We are a data science and IoT team based in Frankfurt, Germany, that helps companies of all sizes innovate at scale. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use industrial IoT platform that enables fast development cycles and allows everyone to benefit from the possibilities of IoT and AI.