This week, IBM and Siemens expanded an already existing alliance with MindSphere to include its deployments. MindSphere is a managed IoT (Internet of Things) that Siemens provides. These deployments will be included on the instance of the Red Hat OpenShift platform. The aim behind this expansion is to simplify the process of building edge computing applications that process and analyze the data at the time of its creation. This statement was given by Raymond Kok, Senior VP of Siemens.
Siemens wanted a Kubernetes-based application development platform. It would enable the giant to develop and deploy the applications on a platform based on modern microservices. Kok said, “We were looking for an industrial-grade Kubernetes platform.”
Currently, manufacturers are using MindSphere to gather and analyze real-time sensor data that comes from plants, machines, products, and more. Siemens wants to feed the gathered information to the analytics applications which are locally executed instead of the cloud execution. This becomes critical since there is latency elimination which is created when you transfer the data over a WAN. IBM claims that 100 to 200 sensors can gather more than 2200 TB of data in one month which remains unanalyzed. It goes without saying that all the data is not supposed to be analyzed. But, the companies have a goal of maximization of manufacturing output, particularly during these testing economic times.
Necessary Bandwidth for Analysis
Kok noted that it is a feasible option to gather and analyze the data on the factory floor in an almost real-time environment because of 5G wireless networks. He also added that IoT gathers the data in a real-time environment. But the deployed analytics applications reside at the IT center. The rising use and implementation of 5G networks make it possible to push the IT applications on the factory floor.
IBM Cloud Engagement Fund is partially providing the funds for this expansion, which happens to be a part of a $1 billion investment to scale hybrid cloud computing. Recently, IBM spent $34 billion to acquire RedHat. The goal behind this was to encourage the adoption of edge computing applications in private clouds. These applications can ultimately integrate with applications from different clouds.
Defining hybrid clouds means including a huge variety of edge computing platforms along with the local data centers. These platforms need integration with backend cloud services. In a manufacturing environment, Siemens looks at the opportunity to expand the boundaries of digital services that include both operational technology (OT) and IT applications. The manufacturers can execute these applications on the factory floor. As a matter of fact, the pyramidal relationship of IT with OT applications seems to be collapsing because of the integration amongst them, says Kok.
But, the cultures of IT and OT within the organizations vary greatly. In the long run, IBM plans to collect the data from the factory floor to train the AI models, said Pierre-Henri Gabriel, Industry 4.0 executive for IBM’s Global Industrial Sector. “We have AI in the line of sight”, says Gabriel. It is easy to see that IBM and Siemens bet that the manufacturers would adopt their proposition for manufacturing processes automation instead of attempting their own.