Microservices — The Clever Solution for the Industrial Internet of Things

Microservices are an attractive option for anyone who wants to remain flexible and independent of platforms, programming languages or other companies in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

How exactly do Microservices work? They are small, self-contained services that are neither linked to a surface nor a technology. Within a system, microservices perform specialized tasks such as collecting machine data. The benefits: The software is modular and can be adapted freely. There are also few prerequisites for implementation into existing technologies. Microservices are, therefore, the right choice for everyone who wants to get started quickly and agilely with IIoT.

Looking more closely, a microservice is a sub-function of a larger system: the microservice architecture. This software architecture is based on many small self-contained services. The architecture subdivides a software system into a multitude of small services. These act independently, i.e. autonomous of a user interface or technology. In contrast, monolithic software centralizes all functions. This results in dependencies on a specific platform, programming language, protocols or a particular company. With monolithic software, the development is centered around a platform or technology.

Microservices, on the other hand, also offer a high degree of independence in their application, because a microservice is always self-contained and can be developed using any technology.

Many Small Services for Combined Success

Companies need various services if they want to master the challenges of IIoT efficiently and professionally: For example, an authentication and authorization service can be used to manage users and rights for all services across a system. Another gateway service collects all data from a machine, aggregates them and transfers them into the data lake. A data processing service is then used to extract the data from the data lake (e.g. through a data warehouse) making them available in aggregated form. Predictive maintenance service, in turn, is used to predict downtime. It analyses the data of a machine (partly in real time) and thus forecasts possible malfunctions. With the help of a GUI service, the collected readings are then displayed for the user (e.g. on a smartphone). These examples illustrate that a microservice does not perform several functions at once, but that each microservice is specialized in a specific task.

Conclusion: Microservices in IIoT

A significant advantage of microservices is that they guarantee autonomy from individual technologies or platforms. This autonomy is particularly important in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as few standards or platforms have been established to date. Companies need to respond to developments flexibly and independently.[TV1]

Microservices are particularly suitable for modular and individually scalable applications. Scalability, connectivity, data standardization & data management, data visualization, device and service management, external interfaces, development support and security features: The basic principles of a good platform remain intact — and the agility of the company is maintained.

Executive Board Member elunic AG // Industry 4.0 & IIoT Solution Firm

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