Five Architectural Features that Make Connected Solutions Different: Resilience
I just got back from a trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I had an opportunity to share our vision for "solutions for a connected world" with an audience of more than 200 local automation professionals. At the end of the presentation we had time for Q&A, and one of the participants asked me "what was different" from what companies like his deploy today. In his experience, one could deliver a connected experience leveraging existing technology, and on an intellectual plane it was hard for me to disagree. Given enough time, resource availability and funding, I have seen automation engineers create amazing "connected world" solutions in a variety of industries.
So what is different? … It starts with architecture. So I thought I'd use the next few postings to go over my "top 5" thoughts on the architecture required to create scalable connected world solutions, starting with resilience.
I Googled “resilience” and found "an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change." The definition fits perfectly. Connected systems are likely to change over time, and “change" may come in many forms.
Some examples include:
(a) New nodes get added to the network (think about new machines in a process, new sites, etc.)
(b) The physical layout of the network or the production equipment may change
(c) Components (I/O, network elements, controllers, computers, software tools and applications) become obsolete and need to get upgraded or replaced
(d) New applications and analytics that can drive enhanced operations may be required
When faced with change, a resilient architecture is one that minimizes the impact of obsolescence and enables fast and safe deployment of new functionality. The expectation is that the system can be "always on,” safely, and that deploying a change involves minimal time and human intervention, again safely.
So, the first question to ask when thinking about participating in the connected world is whether the infrastructure chosen is resilient, or whether it will impose an entire new level of resiliency on the engineers deploying and maintaining it!
More to come …