What is IIoT?

IIoT Made Easy

5 min video  /  4 minute read

Travis Cox from Inductive Automation breaks down IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things). Learn what IIoT is, the problems it solves, what it means for enterprises, as well as how MQTT and Ignition make it easy.



Let's talk about big industrial data, starting with something small.

Say you want to capture industrial data from a local PLC in your SCADA system. Traditionally you'd couple your application directly to your PLC using a communication protocol – no problem.

Now let's say you also want to get data from remote field devices. Well, you'll need to couple those devices to your SCADA application as well – a bit more work, but not too bad.

But what if you want to capture data from thousands of devices locally and remotely, and you also want to access that data with your ERP and MES systems? That's a lot of devices and applications to couple together! And what happens when you want to add more devices or more applications? See the problem?

This old way of doing things doesn't work for big data, and unfortunately, this is the situation many large enterprises find themselves in today. Without a better way to handle the data, much of it gets siloed off, so it's inaccessible from the rest of the enterprise; This is where the IIoT comes in. IIoT stands for the Industrial Internet of Things. 

Like the Internet, which connects smaller computers and networks, the Industrial Internet of Things connects intelligent industrial devices so they can collect and share data. All of that collected data gets sent to a central server, where other devices and applications can access it.

IIoT makes it possible for enterprises to access big data more efficiently and faster than ever, unlocking its hidden value by eliminating data silos and opening the door for advanced analytics. That sounds great, right! So, how do you get started?

Well, with Ignition, IIoT it isn't just possible; it's easy; let's take a look at how it works. Let's start by looking at the device level. To get the devices talking to each other, you will need MQTT, the industry-standard data transfer protocol for machine-to-machine communication. 

Like HTTP is the protocol for transmitting data across the Internet, MQTT does the same thing for the Industrial Internet of Things. In fact, MQTT was invented for the industrial space; it's bi-directional, low bandwidth, secure, and stateful, so you know you can trust the data.

Next, to get the machines to understand each other, you need Sparkplug, the open-standard specification for MQTT from the Eclipse Foundation. Sparkplug defines the topic structure and payload definition of the data so that machines and applications speak the same language. Many greenfield sensors talk Sparkplug nativity, and for brown-field installations, Ignition has you covered.

Ignition Edge is a limited option perfect for the remote edge of the network; it even comes pre-installed on many field devices. For more data, the Ignition MQTT Transmission module can be installed on a server and comes with unlimited connections. Both use Sparkplug and include everything you need to capture and transmit data to a central MQTT server located locally or in the cloud. 

The MQTT server enables clients to connect, publish, and subscribe to data securely. There are many MQTT servers on the market, and Ignition works with all of them and even has its own, the MQTT Distributor Module.

As new IIoT devices connect to the broker, their data becomes instantly available to subscribers. You can think of MQTT like Twitter, allowing machines to publish interesting topics that applications and devices can subscribe to. With this publish-and-subscribe functionality, applications and devices can be decoupled, breaking the constraints of the traditional methods of application-to-device connectivity.

With the MQTT Engine Module for Ignition, applications can subscribe to whatever device data they would like without having to individually couple with that device; this enhances data integrity by allowing each device to function as the single source of truth for the data they provide. And if your organization follows the Purdue or ISA 95 data security models, Ignition IIoT has you covered. 

All MQTT Edge Clients have their inbound TCP Ports disabled, preventing attackers from accessing edge devices and equipment and keeping your data secure. Additionally, every major cloud provider, like AWS, Azure, IBM, and Google all support MQTT so that you can use their powerful data tools for advanced analytics. All of this is built on top of Ignition, the world's first truly universal industrial application platform. 

Using the data from your new IIoT infrastructure, you can create any industrial application – like SCADA, Alarming, MES, and more – and you can instantly web-deploy them to as many people as your enterprise needs.

With Ignition IIoT, your enterprise never needs to get bogged down by big data again. 

Add new device data, subscribe to data instantly, build the exact IIoT applications you need, scale, and grow your system without limits - with Ignition IIoT, you can.

Get the tools to build your data infrastructure of the future today with Ignition IIoT.


Posted on February 3, 2022