The fundamental elements of IIoT device management
With more and more IIoT devices, changing architectures and data management approaches to turn even more data from this increasing number of IIoT devices into actionable intelligence, the importance of IIoT device management can hardly be underestimated.
Device Management enables device manufacturers to configure millions of devices with unique cryptographic identities and the Device Management connection parameters before they leave the factory. With Device Management you can create, inject and securely store the private keys, certificates, server URL and certificate, connection parameters and firmware update keys necessary to connect to Device Management and manage devices.
The key challenges with regards to IIoT device managementThe key challenges with regards to IIoT device management include IIoT security, quick (over-the-air) patching, firmware updating and IIoT device visibility in networks; speed of processing and analyzing data to feed essential business applications in real-time with edge computing, fog computing and the role of artificial intelligence as some important areas.
Moreover, haven’t mentioned the numerous standards and protocols, network and communication methods and so forth, is another key topic, as is scalability in ever larger IIoT projects with more IIoT assets and devices, certainly in the industrial IIoT verticals of Industry 4.0.
At first glance it looks like hard to ensure all of this, however by clever designing of device management can solve your challanges. We have to address four basic device management categories:
- Provisioning and authentication
- Configuration and control
- Monitoring and diagnostics
- Software updates and maintenance
Provisioning and authenticationSecurity for IIoT devices is crucial, begin with hardware through to connectivity and into the cloud. Device management provides a wide scale of features which ensure chip-to-cloud security, regardless of the industry and market, allowing OEMs to easily design and deploy more robust IIoT solutions.
Provisioning is the process of enlisting a device into the system. Authentication is the first part of that process, where only devices that present the correct credentials are registered. Every detail of this process can vary widely based on implementation.
With REACH Device Management you can create, inject and securely store the private keys, certificates, server URL and certificate, connection parameters and firmware update keys necessary to connect to Device Management Module and manage devices.
Configuration and controlFrom time to time, your device will need to be further configured by the operators with attributes such as its name and location and application-specific settings.
For example, a sensor is used to measure the pressure of a certain injector and report that information back to the cloud via a cellular connection. Certain parameters will need to be written once the device is installed, such as the unique ID of sensor. Other configuration settings, such as the amount of time between sending pressure messages, are also determined and programmed into the device.
Monitoring and diagnosticsTo avoid unplanned downtime, Device Management can help you maintain your critical devices using model-based predictive maintenance technology. Monitoring and diagnostics are essential to minimize the impact of any device downtime due to software bugs or other unforeseen operational problems.
With the help of REACH you can discover any out of ordinary signs by monitoring compute, storage, networking, and I/O statistics at the task or process level, and comparing those statistics to predefined nominal values. If the CPU utilization goes up to 50 percent in a process that would normally consume 4 percent, then that gives troubleshooters another data point that make identifying the bug way faster. Monitoring network statistics can also point out possible security breaches.
Software updates and maintenanceIIoT devices can be deployed widely and be expected to last many years. During this time new features, bug fixes and updates may be appeared which could extend their useful lifetime. There is a chance that vulnerabilities are discovered which affect common libraries and new threat methods are revealed. In this case, a secure remote update mechanism can protect the investment made in the IIoT device and prevent costly recalls and in-field servicing.
There are several potential levels to software and firmware maintenance. First of all, you must have a process to completely and securely update all the device software, including bootloaders and binary blobs. You might use this to fix a security vulnerability that spread trough the platform firmware. To fix application bugs or add simple feature improvements and save network bandwidth, you may just want to upgrade the main running application software without touching the platform firmware.
The REACH Device Management is a good example as a set of APIs are used to upload the latest software or firmware versions, initiate campaigns targeting specific devices, and monitor the results. REACH Device Management uses these APIs to provide a ready-to-use interface to manage device updates allowing easy access to the update features.
Final thoughtsThere is a need to automatically classify devices into states that are contextually dependent on the use case in order to integrate the IIoT solution seamlessly into existing business systems and processes. You also need a solution that can automatically supply these challenges with minimal human load.
That’s why it is worth using platforms like REACH Device Management which provides simple, secure, and flexible IoT management capabilities for a range of device profiles.