Bridging OT and IT: Cloud-based Orchestration for the Distributed Edge

Industrial IoT gets a boost from a software solution that sits between the OT and IT worlds. The SaaS-based cloud console brings silicon-based security, network stability, an open base, and support for virtual machines, clusters, and containers, accelerating the shift from legacy to cutting-edge networking.

 

Image credit: ZEDEDA

The energy industry lags behind manufacturing when it comes to the digital transformation of its operations. The rise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and edge computing is pushing energy companies to modernize. However, finding a cloud-based solution to collect data from legacy systems and new containers can be problematic.

Sitting in that sweet spot is ZEDEDA, which makes an open, vendor-neutral cloud-based controller that bridges the OT and IT worlds. Operators or managed service providers can deploy ZEDEDA’s solution to extend cloud computing principles to the distributed edge environment.

 

The Cutting Edge

“We handle the management and orchestration of the applications and the hardware at the edge,” says Jason Shepherd, ZEDEDA’s vice president of Ecosystem.

ZEDEDA’s solution is based on EVE-OS, an open-source design that includes a “bare metal” OS, hypervisors, and container runtimes for policy-based communications between applications, hardware, and the network. EVE, short for Edge Virtualization Engine, was developed within the Linux Foundation’s LF Edge. Open APIs enable secure remote management from multiple sources.

ZEDEDA uses a layered security model with a hardware root of trust: the silicon-based cryptosecurity process prevents security breaches and doesn’t require passwords. It has a distributed firewall and two copies of the EVE-OS run on each device to ensure uptime. It can handle bulk updates and software rollouts remotely, and on-site access is permitted and tracked once established through the cloud. When the device pings the cloud for updates, changes are sent and tested on one OS before rolling over to the second OS.

An open API enables developers to create specific applications, which can be accessed through ZEDEDA and support virtual machines, legacy applications, and new containers. EVE-OS can talk to Windows, SCADA, HMI, and other control system architectures, allowing those devices to be managed remotely.

The SaaS-based cloud controller enables operators or service providers to see their fleet of devices, even in highly distributed environments. Operators can view a dashboard to check edge devices, applications, and alerts in real-time.

Blurred Lines

As edge devices become smarter, the divide between OT and IT becomes less defined.

“Separate hardware and software—those worlds are converging,” Shepherd says. “Edge hardware is more capable and standardized like in Intel® chipsets and architecture.” That blurs the lines between OT and IT and poses challenges in industrial environments.

ZEDEDA and Advantech enable IIoT customers to optimize and help protect their networks and gain greater operational visibility with hardware-based security, detailed comparative data, and predictive analytics. ZEDEDA partners with Advantech, which couples a broad portfolio of industrial hardware devices with an agent-based device management solution. Advantech’s Intel®-powered industrial hardware enables data acquisition, intelligent connectivity, edge processing, control, and secure backhaul across highly distributed environments. 

The tight integration between ZEDEDA’s software and the industrial hardware protects the customer’s investment. “Down to the silicon, we build a complete shroud around your applications,” Shepherd says. “You can’t brick it in the field.”

ZEDEDA works with Arrow Electronics, an Intel® IoT Solution Aggregator, to find the best hardware partners for its solutions. In addition to an IIoT ecosystem, Arrow prepares, delivers, and provides support services for system integrators (SIs) with a goal of reducing the complexity of digital transformation projects.

The Edge in the Field

Swiss-based BOBST manufactures industrial packaging machines with embedded computers. As the business grew, manual updates were getting expensive and time-consuming. The company deployed ZEDEDA with full stack configuration and device monitoring for the entire fleet of devices. BOBST is using it to automate updates and manage its equipment remotely, saving time and money and ensuring all machines are up to date.

Image credit: ZEDEDA

The entire rollout took five weeks, according to Shepherd. “When they go to production and scale, what we do becomes apparent,” he says. “We’re a critical piece of the puzzle.”

Another client, a large oil services company, uses the ZEDEDA solution on trucks to modernize its field operations. “They have mini data centers on wheels,” Shepherd says. “We help them manage Kubernetes clusters. We help manage the network virtualization, the SD-WAN applications, and set up new applications.”

ZEDEDA enables the oil company to merge its existing appliances with new containers and consolidate the workloads. Shepherd says the company is now looking at use cases for oil rigs and other aspects of the business.

 

Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries.

Find Intel® IoT Market Ready Solutions

Search the Intel® IoT partner ecosystem and discover 130+ end-to-end IoT solutions.

Become a Member of the Intel® Partner Alliance

If you are delivering repeatable and scalable IoT offerings using Intel technology, the Intel® Partner Alliance program gives you more opportunities to build your business. Get started.