Alliance to Foster Internet of Things Interoperability

The Open Interconnect Consortium and the Industrial Internet Consortium have reached an agreement focusing on the interoperability technology to support an industrial grade Internet of Things architectural framework.

Regardless of how ubiquitous Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity may become some day, the one thing everyone agrees on is that nothing much will happen at all unless serious work is done to standardize connections between the disparate devices and systems that permeate industry today. With that reality mind, the Open Interconnect Consortium and the Industrial Internet Consortium have reached an agreement to work together to accelerate the development of an IoT framework for industry.

Through this formal liaison, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) will share its use cases and architectural requirements focused on the industrial market, while the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) will ensure that its specification and associated open source project, known as IoTivity, will deliver the necessary features in an IoT communications framework to make real world IoT applications easy to implement.

“This liaison was developed as a result of both consortiums’ desire for interoperability in the industrial IoT,” said Richard Soley, executive director, Industrial Internet Consortium. “By sharing use cases with the OIC, we will identify new scenarios that will ultimately result in systematic interoperability between devices.”

Given all the discussion recently about standardizing communications to make the IoT a reality for industry (see a list of recent Automation World articles on this topic at the end of this post), I spoke with David McCall, senior strategic planner for wireless innovations and solutions at Intel and member of OIC’s Technology Planning and Marketing work groups, to find out how the OIC/IIC partnership will differ from other standardization efforts and what specific steps the alliance plans to focus on first.

As for how this alliance is different from work being done by the HyperCat Consortium and AVnu Alliance, McCall says, “[These] standards initiatives are complimentary.The OIC/IIC liaison agreement focuses on delivering IoT communications framework requirements from OIC based on IIC use cases and requirements. Hypercat is a way to make data access via JSON queries searchable. It's very focused—the entire spec is eight pages long. It’s a technology that may be used by the OIC framework and/or be part of how IIC will deliver on a requirement of one of its use cases. AVnu is a way to improve the real-time capabilities of anEthernetconnection.It would sit below the OIC framework and could be invisible to apps that sit above the framework, although the framework may expose some of the quality of service (QoS) capabilities of the transport via generic QoS application programming interfaces.”

McCall adds, “In general, there is far less overlap between IoT standards than is widely reported.The liaison between OIC and IIC is likely to be the first of many as the ecosystem aligns around the strongest candidates with the best technology to make the shared vision of IoT a reality.”

In terms of a development roadmap for the OIC/IIC partnership, McCall explains that “OIC’s Industrial Task Group is working with IIC to assess their use cases and IoT communications requirements.”A roadmap will be published “in due course,” he says.“OIC’s architecture was developed with industrial applications in mind, so it's likely that some use cases will be addressed in OIC’s first specification release in the first half of 2015, but it’s likely that more complex use cases will be addressed in future releases.”

The IIC’s Technology Working Group is working on the architectural framework for the Industrial Internet, which will be reviewed by its membership at its March 2015 meeting. McCall says this technical document will be “published later this spring and will be the blueprint for standard recommendations for industrial IoT.”

If you are not yet aware of The Open Interconnect Consortium, it currently has more than 50 members—including Dell, HP, Siemens, and Honeywell—with the goal of defining the connectivity requirements and ensuring interoperability of the billions of devices that will make up the IoT.

The Industrial Internet Consortium is an open membership organization, with 141 members to date—including founding companies AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM and Intel. IIC was formed to accelerate the development, adoption and widespread use of interconnected machines and devices, intelligent analytics, and people as well as catalyze and coordinate the priorities and enabling technologies of the Industrial Internet.

Dr. Richard Mark Solely, executive director of the IIC, will speak at The Automation Conference 2015 on May 19 about how the Internet of Things will change—and is already changing—the manufacturing industries.

Recent Automation World articles covering IoT standardization efforts:

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