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Cutting Down the Industrial Internet’s ‘Tower of Babel’

Lux Research

Multiple winners will emerge as open standards replace proprietary middleware, with commercial buildings and manufacturing as the top users, says Lux Research

BOSTON, MA – February 5, 2015 – Open standards, innovative communications protocols and robust middleware will drive the industrial Internet, creating new energy and resource efficiencies, particularly for smart buildings and smart factories, according to Lux Research.

The hype and perceived opportunity around the industrial Internet has caused major players across diverse industries to pay closer attention to this emerging network. However, unlike its social and business counterpart, the industrial Internet is hampered by legacy devices, proprietary communication methods and a lack of standardization.

“The two most near-term cases for the industrial Internet relate to commercial buildings and manufacturing operations. Both sectors have well-entrenched automation, but are only beginning to capitalize on the value of connecting and networking existing infrastructure,” said Maryanna Saenko, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Understanding the Structure of Communication: Sorting Through the Protocols Behind the Industrial Internet.”

“While open protocols will succeed, there will be no one-size-fits-all solution, and the suitability of a given protocol depends upon applications,” she added.

Lux Research analysts developed a weighted evaluation matrix to assess middleware protocols and transport protocols. Among their findings:

  • Wireless protocols have a way to go. Few wireless protocols are robust enough for real-time critical applications. Those that can work with little interference and maintain high security don’t have the connectivity qualities needed for large-scale deployment – with a few exceptions such as Weightless, ThingPark Wireless and On-Ramp Wireless.

  • No blanket winner in middleware. The suitability of both middleware and transport for the industrial Internet really depends upon application – there is no blanket winner. Protocols like DDS, AMQP and MQTT rise to the top, reflecting their strength in offering scalable, real-time critical solutions.

  • Innovation is needed from device makers. Device makers need to buck the trend of legacy protocols and explore alternative options. Companies like WirelessHart, Dash7 and Weightless, all have strong potential in a number of building and manufacturing applications.

The report, titled “Understanding the Structure of Communication: Sorting Through the Protocols Behind the Industrial Internet,” is part of the Lux Research Autonomous Systems 2.0 and the Efficient Building Systems Intelligence services.