How SD-WAN Sorts Edge Computing vs. Cloud Computing in the IIOT


The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), sometimes called Industry 4.0, is a subset of the Internet of Things that primarily pertains to innovations in manufacturing. For instances, lean manufacturers that have already curbed waste throughout their production lines might harness the IIoT for further efficiency gains through measures such as:

  • Monitoring critical equipment over IP networks.
  • Integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning into their operations.
  • Redesigning their overall supply chains.

While it does not alwauys garner the hype of its consumer-facing equivalent, the IIoT is quickly becoming a fixture of the manufacturing economy, with Grand Review Research estimating it will be a $933 billion market opportunity as soon as 2025. This growth could fuel an influx of real-time applications at the network edge, where intelligent devices, new data privacy regulations and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) architectures have created ideal conditions.

The Economist has even predicted 2018 will be the year that the cloud’s dominance in IT – ascendant since the mid 2000s, when public clouds like AWS first rolled out – will end, thanks to the rise of edge computing. That forecast may prove correct, especially since emerging use cases in the IIoT, like mission-critical industrial Ethernet programs and even specialized autonomous vehicles, cannot afford any appreciable latency that might stem from a cloud connection.

What is Edge Computing? A Rival and a Companion to Cloud Computing

None of this is to say cloud services will suddenly become diminished, not even in the IIoT itself, where they will continue to support many key apps. Instead, edge computing and cloud computing will exist side by side in the IIoT and ideally benefit from connectivity enabled by failsafe, transport-agnostic SD-WAN solutions.

Each one will be particularly suited to for specific workflows. Let’s look at a few examples on both sides:

Edge Computing

Real-time IIoT data must be processed at the edge to ensure its sufficient speed and accuracy. Activities such as caching, basic data visualization and machine-to-machine communications are ideal candidates for edge processing. A modern SD-WAN can shore up performance on this front by delivering multi-path selection via any mode of transport (MPLS, Internet, cellular), along with encryption and bandwidth optimization.

Cloud Computing

For the IIoT, the cloud is akin to video editing software, with the sensors embedded throughout factories and supply chains serving as the cameras capturing raw footage. Information that begins its journey on a factory floor will pass through and be stored in cloud infrastructure, which will help sustainably scale its management and ensure secure accessibility to authorized users.

Cloud is highly cost-effective for IIoT initiatives. In the production of Twizzlers, Hershey’s was able to cut $500,000 in expenses for every 1 percent gain in efficiency it realized through a combination of IoT sensors and cloud platforms, according to TechRepublic.

An SD-WAN overlay is an ideal architecture for connecting the many different actuators, gateways and devices sending transmissions from the IIoT into the cloud. In particular, SD-WAN provides unique advantages in policy-driven orchestration, centralized management and security integration. Learn more today about how Talari Networks can help you take manufacturing operations to the next level, by requesting a demo or taking a look at the eBook below.

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