Experiences of edge computing driving business continuity
It is hardly surprising that the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing manufacturing and impacting on business continuity. The digitisation of industrial processes means that previously inaccessible data is now collected, stored and analysed. But where is this happening? Increasingly, the processing of data is happening local to the source, and this is generally by using edge computing. The volume of data processed locally depends on both security risks and latency, bandwidth and process reliability.
Schneider Electric reports that many companies are now piloting IoT use cases, but find they need to think differently to devise new ways of capturing unique digitisation-driven opportunities for business continuity.
Business continuity issues
One example of this new thinking emerged as one of their customers recently upgraded their manufacturing plant. As their legacy system transformed into digital, four critical success factors emerged: availability, backup and recovery, power protection and security.
To minimise such risks, planners, designers, and installers of industrial edge solutions should consider the following actions:
1. Ensure high availability of edge applications
A major competitive differentiator is a company’s ability to respond to customer needs and requirements. Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) edge computing systems should maximise systems availability. Understanding the trade-off between investments in redundancies (to enhance availability) and the risks of downtime becomes a critical success factor in a connected world.
2. Integrate a backup and recovery plan
When disaster strikes (natural or otherwise), how fast can industrial edge operations come back on-line? Does the business continuity plan account for a partial or total loss of digitalised edge assets? After installing new edge compute applications, disaster recovery plans are sometimes not considered. In the age of advanced connectivity, systems downtime can often have an unexpected cascading effect on operations. Proper business continuity planning can cut much of this risk.
3. Invest in proper power protection
Power systems such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), power distribution units (PDUs), circuit breakers, automatic transfer switches, isolation transformers, and generators provide uninterrupted, conditioned, clean power to the critical loads. These systems feed and protect a variety of electrical loads including lighting, heating, ventilation air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, elevators, large pumps, fans, motors, security systems, specialised machinery equipment and more.
4. Implement a physically secure and cyber secure edge
Cybersecurity starts with physical security, and there are several ways to mitigate the risk of cybersecurity breaches. If processing and storage hardware is not physically secure, it is vulnerable to malicious or unintended tampering, resulting in compromised data. Developing industrial edge physical security and cybersecurity best practices should involve both OT and IT experts and solutions that have attained proper cybersecurity certifications.
As industrial organisations digitise, attention focuses on how best to protect industrial edge systems from threats to business continuity. Access the Schneider Electric white paper on the benefits of adopting an edge computing are here “The Drivers and Benefits of Edge Computing,”.
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