In August 2022, Google Cloud announced that it will shut down its Internet of Things (IoT) Core services by August 2023.
The services are relied-upon by businesses around the world to support data analytics, machine learning, predictive maintenance and more. As these companies now face a decision on which replacement platform to choose, this is the ideal time to reevaluate any IoT needs.
Here, Stefan Reuther, Chief Sales Officer at automation supplier COPA-DATA, discusses why when it comes to IoT platforms, independence might be the best choice.
The announcement that Google will be shutting down its Google IoT Core services will inevitably impact those who use the service as an integral part of their IoT systems. The platform currently acts as a connection between customer devices and IoT applications, and supports companies’ data analytics, machine learning, predictive maintenance and more. Without it, businesses will no longer be able to access their devices or exchange data and will lose access to the service’s application programming interface (API).
The news means that companies that have already invested money, time, and staff into implementing the system will now need to revise their efforts or determine the most effective new system for their operations.
What lessons can be learned from this? One is that, while Google is undoubtedly one of the largest and most successful IT companies, the closure of its platform highlights that the size of a provider shouldn’t necessarily be a deciding factor. Larger companies have a wider range of services in their portfolio, but this also means they can cancel any of these services at any point.
Indeed, using IoT hub services from large companies has other limitations, too. Customers are dependent on IT infrastructures and applications from the company and its partners and must ensure their business’s own IT and operational technology (OT) components are compatible with the platform.
Companies that have built their IoT architecture around Google IoT core now face the decision of which alternative solution to choose, whether to start a new system with a new provider, or to migrate their data to another platform. Although some Google partners or public platforms offer migration services, which allow the customer to move their data from one platform to another, depending on the compatibility of the data with the new platform this process can be even more complex than starting from scratch.
Another option is to switch to a cloud-agnostic IoT solution, which allows the user to remain vendor-independent. That’s where using platforms from the OT field can be beneficial. Compatibility, interoperability and communication are already fundamental for OT companies working in industrial automation, which means they already understand the needs of the customer and how to meet them. In the automation industry there are hundreds of important historical and current protocols and systems in existence for commercial reasons already. IT systems in the automation industry also have long life cycles, which means that large amounts of data are often stored in them.
Understanding all these different systems and how to work across them to meet the requirements of IoT users is key and using the services of established OT companies that know exactly what customers need from a platform can be hugely beneficial. That’s why OT companies already have the knowledge and experience at the field level, and the capability to help their customers to extract important data.
COPA-DATA understands this, meaning that its IoT customers can expect a holistic and vendor-independent solution that is compatible with all their existing systems, both internal and external.
COPA-DATA has developed its zenon IoT service as an extension of its zenon automation software, to link with cloud architecture. The service allows users to exchange data between their assets and IoT applications, and to access and integrate all field data easily with other zenon or third-party applications. Its web-based management tool allows easier, centralised management for superior security and integrity.
The zenon IoT service is also easy-to-implement out of the box, with edge and cloud integration capabilities through Representational State Transfer (REST) application programming interface (API), an interface that allows interaction with REST web services. REST is a set of constraints that dictate how web applications communicate via the internet which confer speed and flexibility advantages for communication and software integration. With the process simplified, customers can focus on the applications they need, and zenon will keep the services maintained and fully up-to-date.
The platform is especially useful because it’s possible to integrate any third-party applications on the market, or for companies to develop their own applications that are compatible with zenon IoT services, for exceptional flexibility and operational agility.
Embracing IoT systems can help to optimise industrial operations while ensuring maximum flexibility and productivity. When deciding on a platform, it’s important to consider your current architecture and compatibility, and which system will best work with these to meet your requirements.
Moving to an OT Cloud-agnostic system like zenon is simple to implement and fully interoperable, without the limitations of being tied to a specific vendor. Though the cancellation of any widely used Cloud service is bound to be inconvenient for users, the closure of Google IoT Core will give users a chance to reevaluate their needs when it comes to automation and digitalisation. With automation on the rise, industrial operations need a system that’s flexible and agile and will evolve with their business – that’s why independence could be the way forward.