Manage IIoT deployments before they become a three-ring circus

Data quality begins with device validation

By Bob Slevin June 5, 2020

Because Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) deployments often solve a specific, tactical use case at the departmental level, such as machine monitoring or fleet management, many organizations find themselves deploying multiple IIoT platforms.

By 2020, IDC predicts more than half of organizations that leverage commercial IoT platforms will have multivendor IoT environments. These multivendor environments often result in poor levels of secure connectivity, performance and scalability — all of which are required to successfully implement an IIoT ecosystem.

With cyber threats to IIoT growing, managing these ecosystems can become a three-ring circus, and are not for the faint of heart. As such, organizations must take an identity-centric, zero-trust approach to ensure critical IIoT devices and their associated data streams are protected from tampering or misuse. But how can organizations do so effectively?

Defining data quality

The success of an IIoT deployment is largely contingent on data quality, and data quality begins with device validity. Device validation encompasses a holistic view of the device, allowing organizations to closely monitor what a device is doing, the data streams necessary to maintain its role, as well as context-based permissions that establish secure integration to enterprise applications.

An identity-first approach ensures data and devices are not at risk. An identify-centric approach is made possible through relationship and lifecycle management, ensuring that every device is identifiable, secured and has a clearly defined role so that it does not become the weakest link in an established IT security posture.

An unknown device can result in provision of access to the wrong groups of people, or even potentially compromise the rest of the data in the ecosystem. Such a high level of visibility, where each individual device is identifiable, is important not only from a security standpoint, but also for future integrations to improve performance and boost competitiveness.

Integrating and scaling

IIoT is comprised of many different components. While standalone IoT devices offer numerous benefits, building a secure ecosystem of people, systems and things can bring the most value to organizations, allowing them to drive innovation, enable timely business decisions or introduce new business models to previously static products. Ideally, an IoT platform should be able to connect and receive data from all connected IoT devices, then integrate data sent from each device so organizations will have the ability to monitor and control the entire scope of IIoT devices.

However, it is important to consider the fundamental challenges that can affect integration. Usually, these challenges involve the devices and applications used to collect the data, the data being collected and the processes involved with collecting the data. Often, there are thousands of IIoT devices present throughout the entire organization that do not share any common standards, making integration a challenge.

Scalability is another key factor to consider. While organizations may currently be deploying IIoT for simple tasks such as location-based tracking, deployments should be scalable to allow these devices to take on more complex and sophisticated tasks in the future.

Choosing the right platform

The IIoT platform is the foundation upon which the successful implementation of IoT projects is based. Without proper management and integration, any large-scale IIoT deployment will fail to achieve its full enterprise value beyond its initial, tactical use case. For this reason, organizations should leverage an enterprise ready IIoT platform to securely and effectively manage the ecosystem that spans across people, systems and things.

With the help of IoT experts, organizations can integrate their IoT devices and ensure they are used in the most secure, effective and efficient manner. However, with an array of IIoT platforms available, choosing the right one is not always an easy decision. Organizations should be on the lookout for a comprehensive platform that offers a wide range of benefits such as reducing costs, improving operations, increasing production, monetizing data and improving IoT security.

As organizations increasingly rely on the information created by countless IIoT devices each day to make critical business decisions, they must depend on an identity-driven platform to ensure the validity of their data. Managing the relationship an IIoT data source or operator has with anyone or anything it interacts with is what makes this platform uniquely capable to handle initiatives requiring the highest level of security.

Author Bio: Bob Slevin is director of product marketing for IoT at OpenText.