More questions answered on IIoT cloud to edge

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can include cloud to edge architectures. What mix of cloud and edge technologies should a particular application have?

By Jeffrey Shannon January 28, 2021


Learning Objectives

  • Industrial Internet of Things can benefit from edge and cloud capabilities.
  • What mix of edge and cloud technologies should be applied?
  • How does cybersecurity fit with edge and cloud implementations?

Cloud and edge technologies help Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) implementations, but what mix of cloud to edge architectures should be used? See some answers from a webcast question and answer session from the Jan. 19 webcast, “IIoT cloud to edge.” A certified professional development hour (PDH is available.)

The webcast presenter, Jeffrey Shannon, director – intelligent operations, Wood PLC, a system integrator, answered the questions below.

Question: How about missing and error data in IIoT? 

Shannon: We use data substitution methods to fill in the gap for missing data and replacement of bad data. The application for this is fairly extensive due to the enormous variety of problems that can arise. A manual method is needed as well.

Q: How would one best approach cybersecurity in IIoT using open-source software platforms? 

Shannon: Open source does not mean it is not secure. Most open-source software will integrate with the platform security so depending on the specific problem, you should at least plan on integrating into the provided security layer. For an IIoT device that will connect to input/output (I/O) devices on the operational technology (OT) side, a firewall and data diode should be considered.

Q: What is the best way to integrate our pneumatic controls with Digital system? 

Shannon: We are using pneumatics to control valves in class 1 div 1 environment, and there are not many commercially available choices. You need an I/P (current to pressure) converter with volume, and several electro‐pneumatic transducers are available that meet Class I Div. I, explosion proof requirements, but you need to review total compliance.  Please note you really can’t open the enclosure during operation with this classification. I would put the junction box outside of this classified area.

Q: Are all cloud- or edge-based system provider manufacturers the same as far as cybersecurity? 

Shannon: There is variability here, but most are open to the software, etc. you need to secure as much as humanly possible.

Q: For cybersecurity, is the cloud service provider responsible for any hack or unwanted access? 

Shannon: My view is they have responsibility, but are unlikely to accept contractual liability.

Similar service is available for cloud or on-premise (or an on-campus) system. Cloud is going to be cheaper than on campus because in the cloud, you are one of many users in the environment. On campus means you have to provide the infrastructure.

Q: How does one handle heterogenous legacy data formats from devices?  Is there a simple fix to bring them together at the edge?

Shannon: Yes, but you need connectors to handle the interface. System integrators often have them and can provide customization. It is not that expensive to do. Typically, connectors are done once and enhanced over time.

Jeffrey Shannon is director – intelligent operations, Wood PLC, a system integrator, and a CFE Media and Technology Content Partner. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology,

KEYWORDS: IIoT, edge, cloud


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Author Bio: Jeffrey Shannon, Wood PLC