- Brett Murphy, Director of Business Development, Industrial IoT, Real Time Innovations (RTI)
- Shi-Wan Lin, IoT technologist & Co-Founder, Thingwise, LLC
- Brett Burger, Principal Marketing Manager, Monitoring Solutions, National Instruments
In 2015, RTI, National Instruments and Cisco proposed a testbed to the IIC Steering Committee to explore a new, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) architecture for microgrid power system communication and control. With the increasing use of renewable energy sources at the edge of the power grid, increasing threats of cyber-attacks on the power system and aging infrastructure in the grid, there is an urgent, growing need for a new “smart” grid. This testbed provides a proof-of-concept environment in which to apply new IIoT technologies to challenges in deploying a smart grid.
Later in 2015, the IIC published its first version of the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA). The IIRA highlights key architectural challenges in IIoT across industrial sectors and provides an architectural framework to guide the design of IIoT Systems to ensure they are well architected, interoperable and secure. The IIRA was published after the Microgrid Testbed team instantiated its IIoT communication and control framework. As an exercise to test the relevance and value of the IIRA, the IIC microgrid testbed team and members of the IIC’s Architecture Task Group worked together to apply the IIRA to the microgrid testbed architecture. The result of which, including what we learned in the process, is reported in the new IIC white paper, “Applying the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture to a Smart Grid Testbed.”
The white paper presents our work on applying the IIRA’s four viewpoints - Business, Usage, Functional and Implementation – to the testbed as well as describing the testbed’s system characteristics. The paper is both an example of how to apply the IIRA to a dynamic and complex IIoT system and a discussion of the value of the IIRA for IIoT system architects and developers. For the testbed team, the application of the IIRA helped us step back, look at the larger picture and ensure we were addressing the needs of the end users of the resulting system. For example, it helped us clarify that the eventual microgrid operator may very well be a separate organization from the owner. The process also led to some enhancement in the IIRA. For example, the Microgrid Testbed’s “Layered Databus” architecture pattern, very common in edge or fog computing systems with significant peer-to-peer data sharing, is being considered for inclusion in the Implementation Viewpoint of the next version of the IIRA.
As IIC testbeds emerge and develop, the guidance of the IIRA is applied early in the process. Here is an example of a more mature testbed evaluated by the considerations of the IIRA and the resulting knowledge gained from that experience. Find more details by reading the new white paper, visiting the microgrid testbed webpage and downloading the IIRA.
The Layered Databus Architecture Pattern used in the IIC’s Microgrid Testbed
 For a detailed explanation of a Databus and how it compares to its cousin, the Database, see this article [link: https://blogs.rti.com/2016/07/20/databus-vs-database-the-6-questions-every-iiot-developer-needs-ask/]