In Glaze, we are implementing IIoT Solutions for our customers. Naturally, our customers want the best quality, the fastest implementation and the most functionality. But like any other development project, you can’t have it all.
You must prioritize. In the case of choice of IoT platform, please be aware of your priorities regarding:
As a rule of thumb, the higher standard functionality you get, the lower flexibility you will experience in the future
If you go for specific optimized functionality for your edge devices, for your business system integration, for AI or for your MES integration your system will possibly be locked or significant limited due to the supplier dependence
In general, there are two types of IIoT platforms: Specific Platforms and General Platforms.
Specific platforms may be Industrial Platforms or Application specific platforms.
Industrial Platforms focus on interface to specific types of hardware, often from a single or a select few suppliers. The interface is highly optimized towards the hardware – easy to implement and easy to use. On the downside, the extensions and surrounding functionality and interfaces of these platforms are limited.
Application Specific Platforms focus on solving specific problems. They are mostly fast to implement, easy to use, and are very suitable for Proof of Concepts, if the goal is to establish e.g. monitoring of a specific condition. On the downside, they typically also have limited extensions, functionality and interfaces.
General Platforms have a flexible and open approach and try to grasp every problem within the domain. They are more difficult to implement and more difficult to use but are the choice if your priority is to have a viable, long term solution that is supported by a large community of developers and they provide a broad range of templates, extensions and interfaces.
Which Platform is best for me?
If your strategy is clear, if the requirements are well defined and you are sure about the details of interfaces, then you should consider choosing a Specific Platform.
1. The specific platform functionality and interfaces work for you
2. The supplier of the specific platform is reliable
then a Specific Platform probably is your best option.
If you are looking for
- A platform, for a system that will live several years
- A platform that can handle requirements that change over time,
then you should probably base your project on a General Platform. Large communities and a commitment from the supplier to maintain the market is your guarantee that the platform will be supported, maintained, and expanded.
In Glaze, we are focusing on Microsoft Azure solutions. Let us look at these options in Microsoft Azure: You can Do It Yourself (DIY) or you can choose IoT Central as your starting point. Many of our customers realize that a DIY solution is too costly and that IoT Central does not have the flexibility they are looking for. This is why, at Glaze we have defined a 3rd option, Beacon Tower (www.beacontower.io).
Beacon Tower gives you a range of standard functionality in a well proven architecture, that you would otherwise have to design and implement yourself. Examples of this are nested organisations and flexible asset management. It also gives you the benefit of control of your cost, monitoring and maintenance, while giving you 100% ownership and control of your data.
Few of the projects we see, will start by ‘inventing the wheel’. Choosing IoT Central will get you a presentable, functional product real quick. But when it comes to optimizations towards cost or functionality, you will experience that your options are limited.
Kickstarting your Microsoft Azure IIoT implementation by using Beacon Tower will get you quick results while always keeping your optimization and exit options open. At any time, you can replace the components used. At any time, you can optimize the configuration and software running in your solution. And at any time, you can take ownership of the implementation and replace the service, managed by Glaze, with your own.
Partner and Senior Advisor Mikael Rönde, firstname.lastname@example.org, +45 70 23 50 05