As the internet of things takes off in the consumer world, the manufacturing industry is realizing how IoT is becoming an increasingly critical component of large-scale IT strategies. This shift is driven by enterprise need to utilize digital technologies in a strategic way to achieve valuable business outcomes.
Beyond providing many opportunities to elevate functionality of basic manufacturing processes, industrial internet of things (IIoT) benefits range from creating supply chain efficiencies to developing new products and business models that will lead to revenue growth. This growth opportunity stems from the ability to capture events in a product’s natural environment and stream them back to value-added services that companies can use to create new revenue opportunities. For example, a washing machine that streams utilization data back to the seller can then enable a service that lowers energy costs by recommending better times to operate the machine.
However, to unlock these opportunities, two changes need to occur: the ability to safely and securely capture data (events) from endpoints, and the ability to develop offerings based on the data.
DevOps is at the heart of business transformation driven by industrial IoT. With DevOps, organizations are able to build the scalable and automated infrastructure required to drive the collection of billions of events over large populations of devices. Once the data is in hand, building applications to make the data useful relies on DevOps to empower developers to move fast and iterate quickly as requirements are sorted out in real time. The best of agile development and infrastructure roll out are effectively captured this way.
Consider, for example, an IoT-instrumented workplace where tracking infrastructure is used to enable smart conference rooms. In an environment like this, being able to securely collect the building utilization information across a global deployment requires the ability to identify individual conference rooms as events are triggered -- someone walks in, a laptop opens, the room display turns on, and phone conferences are started. A DevOps-enabled infrastructure can automatically scale to capture these events as they happen during the work day and then scale back in the evening to reduce operating costs.
If data analysis from IoT devices indicates that team members are missing collaboration opportunities because some employees are dialing in from their offices rather than joining a meeting face to face, DevOps can offer a quick solution. With DevOps, teams can quickly prototype an app and bring it into production -- since the development environment is the same as production -- in order to test whether it helps improve collaboration.
If the app works and collaboration improves, a new feature is born that increases overall productivity. If the app doesn’t work, the company can quickly abandon it without having forfeited significant time or resources. In this case, the potential to align IoT and DevOps to create new opportunity is clear.
Today’s customer-driven “on-demand” mindset now requires organizations to adopt an agile approach for continuous software delivery and deployment, which is a key tenet of DevOps. And, as organizations look to align technology with their customers’ strategic digital goals, industrial IoT will be a key ingredient to success. With a clear understanding of how to approach and architect applications in order to optimize IoT devices, the industry will begin to see DevOps as a main enabler of IIoT.