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Architecting Cyber-Physical Systems in the Age of the Industrial Internet

  • This presentation was created for a conference series or symposium and does not necessarily reflect the positions and views of the Software Engineering Institute.
  • Abstract

    Industrial systems and the internet have been increasing in complexity since the mid-1990s and are now at a turning point where a new revolution is evolving. The convergence of the global industrial ecosystem, advanced computing and manufacturing, pervasive sensing, and ubiquitous network connectivity has set the stage for an industrial internet revolution where complex, complete cyber-physical systems (CPS) are coming online. The deployment of these systems will infiltrate a broad spectrum of domains, including energy generation and distribution, health care, transportation, manufacturing, and defense.

    The industrial internet is posited to have a major impact on economic growth similar to that spurred by internet connectivity and computing investments in the second half of 1990s. Additionally, this new revolution will change the way CPS are managed, monitored, optimized, maintained, and inevitably decommissioned. Consequently, architecting next-generation CPS must address a myriad of architecture challenges related to complexity, capability, quality, and technology. We identify a critical set of these challenges.

    Abstraction: The scale of CPS and interdependency among its elements will mandate a greater emphasis on systems-level, end-to-end thinking about solution architectures that stakeholders of different organizations, disciplines, and expertise can use. Architecting the software backbone of a network of CPS will require skills beyond those related to the software craft.

    Standards: Enabling communication and collaboration among a wider community of stakeholders will require standardization beyond the software architecture community. Standardized architecture tools and nomenclature should include other engineering disciplines such as mechanical engineering, physics, natural sciences, mathematics, manufacturing, and others.

    Big Data: The sheer number of machines expected to come online and the volume of data expected to be generated and transmitted through the industrial internet as a result will bring about big data challenges. A major architecture challenge will be to decide what gets thrown away, processed at the edge (i.e., point of contact of the CPS with the physical world), or transmitted and processed away from the point of generation (i.e., the cyber world).

    Cloud: Cloud-based computing enables scale and elasticity—two essential elements of the expending and evolving nature of CPS. Cloud computing offers an affordable, efficient strategy to come aboard the industrial internet early to ensure a continued competitive edge. However, privacy issues related to export control, intellectual property, corporate identity, governance, ownership and others must be addressed.

    Engineering: Stove-piped, single-discipline-focused engineering of products and services that form the components of CPS will no longer fit within an industrial internet-enabled environment. Time to market, cost, complexity, and competitiveness will require a much more robust engineering design methodology. The potential to transform how engineering is conducted by adopting a collaborative, crowdsourcing-driven approach to engineering and manufacturing is becoming a reality.

    In light of these challenges, we will discuss the impact on architecture practice in the age of the industrial internet and seek discussion about the way forward from the audience.

    The industrial internet is posited to have a major impact on economic growth similar to that spurred by internet connectivity and computing investments in the second half of 1990s. Additionally, this new revolution will change the way CPS are managed, monitored, optimized, maintained, and inevitably decommissioned. Consequently, architecting next-generation CPS must address a myriad of architecture challenges related to complexity, capability, quality, and technology. We identify a critical set of these challenges.

    Abstraction: The scale of CPS and interdependency among its elements will mandate a greater emphasis on systems-level, end-to-end thinking about solution architectures that stakeholders of different organizations, disciplines, and expertise can use. Architecting the software backbone of a network of CPS will require skills beyond those related to the software craft.

    Standards: Enabling communication and collaboration among a wider community of stakeholders will require standardization beyond the software architecture community. Standardized architecture tools and nomenclature should include other engineering disciplines such as mechanical engineering, physics, natural sciences, mathematics, manufacturing, and others.

    Big Data: The sheer number of machines expected to come online and the volume of data expected to be generated and transmitted through the industrial internet as a result will bring about big data challenges. A major architecture challenge will be to decide what gets thrown away, processed at the edge (i.e., point of contact of the CPS with the physical world), or transmitted and processed away from the point of generation (i.e., the cyber world).

    Cloud: Cloud-based computing enables scale and elasticity—two essential elements of the expending and evolving nature of CPS. Cloud computing offers an affordable, efficient strategy to come aboard the industrial internet early to ensure a continued competitive edge. However, privacy issues related to export control, intellectual property, corporate identity, governance, ownership and others must be addressed.

    Engineering: Stove-piped, single-discipline-focused engineering of products and services that form the components of CPS will no longer fit within an industrial internet-enabled environment. Time to market, cost, complexity, and competitiveness will require a much more robust engineering design methodology. The potential to transform how engineering is conducted by adopting a collaborative, crowdsourcing-driven approach to engineering and manufacturing is becoming a reality.

    In light of these challenges, we will discuss the impact on architecture practice in the age of the industrial internet and seek discussion about the way forward from the audience.



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