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Fast, Simple and Secure Orchestration of Operational Technologies at the Edge with HPE Edgeline
By Bharath Ramesh
Product Management & Marketing Director
HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems
The edge can be categorized as anywhere that’s not the data center or cloud, and consequently encompasses a variety of environments - a manufacturing floor, oil rig, truck or a power plant. It is one of the biggest sources of “big data”, since much of this data is simply parameters measured from the physical world e.g. pressure, temperature, light, vibration etc. Customers desperately need an efficient method to acquire, store, analyze and act on this data in order to be successful. To this end, they are looking to deploy IT technologies into the OT environment such as a manufacturing floor or oil rig, and physically converge the two domains and go further than simply an organization or process change. In this post we will look at how HPE is leveraging our strengths in enterprise IT hardware and software into the OT space, and making it fast, simple and secure for customers to achieve this goal.
The challenge with automation:
Setting up converged OT is confusing and suboptimal
Take a scenario where the customer wishes to deploy an IT system on a manufacturing floor to collect data from sensors on equipment, analyze it to get insights, and immediately take control action to improve the outcome. First, they need to identify the appropriate edge platform that can talk to the OT devices already in the environment, but yet has sufficient horsepower and capabilities to manage huge volumes of data and run demanding analytics.
This system must then be physically installed into the factory floor, have firmware updated to the latest versions, the Operating System (OS) installed from bare metal, and applications loaded on top of it. When a high-performance enterprise class system is setup, this activity may necessitate expensive IT specialists to be deployed onsite to manage each and every deployment. Furthermore, basic systems like gateways or Industrial PCs, will force a manual installation of firmware and software on each system, leading to long setup times and possibly inconsistent end states.
Once the system installation is done, the customer needs to figure out how to “talk” the right industrial protocols to interact with the equipment they’d like to monitor. For example, they will need to find the correct driver for the OT I/O hardware (e.g. CANbus, MOBDUS or TSN) integrated in their edge system and spend significant time to ensure that it can be consistently installed, performs to expectations and is secure. Then the user needs to find drivers for the endpoint devices inside the monitored equipment such as a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) or Distributed Control System (DCS), understand how to extract data from its registers, and map these to data tags that an application can use. The collected data tags need to be routed via a workflow to the appropriate analytics application, and once insight is obtained, the entire flow must be reversed to control the equipment. Much of this requires custom coding today and results in a solution which has not been stress-tested, hardened or secured to enterprise IT levels. The ability to scale this blueprint easily to other lines, sites or companies is also doubtful.
Finally, once the solution is deployed it must be managed and maintained, and this is not a typical skillset found within the OT engineers and technicians working on the manufacturing floor. But it is also frequently not cost effective to station IT specialists at each site to handle issues as they emerge, putting customers in a conundrum.
The solution: HPE delivers the system, software and services to make converged OT easy
HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems is a new class of high-performance, high-density, Converged OT systems that are ruggedized to be deployed in harsh edge environments. In addition to bringing full datacenter-grade enterprise IT compute, storage, networking, and systems management capabilities to the edge, Edgeline can also directly interoperate with operational technologies (OT) (i.e. “Convergence of IT and OT”) typically found at the edge e.g. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) or SCADA systems. This physical integration of data acquisition, control systems, and industrial networking into an Enterprise IT platform, enables the Edgeline to “talk” with industrial equipment on the oil rig or manufacturing floor over MODBUS or PROFINET, as easily as it can send Augmented Reality (AR) overlays to a tablet over WiFi.
HPE Edgeline EL300 Converged Edge System for compact, managed and secured Converged OT
The HPE Edgeline EL300 is the newest addition to the Converged Edge Systems product line, and introduces HPE’s new edge-optimized Integrated System Manager (iSM) hardware and firmware solution with capabilities like managing systems over WiFi or LTE connections and remote system disable or data erase, layered on top of HPE differentiators such as silicon root of trust - all presented via the same familiar Redfish, SSH CLI or WebGUI interface that existing HPE iLO users will find comfortable.
It also fits configurable OT I/O modules allowing direct connectivity to CANbus, MODBUS, Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) and General Purpose I/O (GPIO) devices and sensors. A selection of CPU, memory, NVMe SSD, wireless and accelerator options (such as the Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU), make it a great starting system for unmodified enterprise-class edge analytics, especially on OT data. All of these features are delivered in a very compact, highly rugged (fanless, IP50, MIL-STD-810G, -30C to +70C operating temp) system, suitable for deploying into harsh edge environments.
HPE Edgeline EL300 Converged Edge System:
HPE Edgeline OT Link Certified Hardware Modules (read further to see what these are!)
HPE Edgeline Infrastructure Manager Software for edge multi-device management
Managing multiple HPE Edgeline systems at scale within a facility is made easy through the new HPE Edgeline Infrastructure Manager (EIM) software. It offers automated device discovery for fast identification of edge systems on a network, and provides a single-pane-of-glass visibility into health of all the managed systems. With just a few clicks IT administrators can now deploy firmware and software updates to numerous HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems in the same easy manner as they do on datacenter and cloud IT systems. The EIM software is based on open standards with full Redfish compliance, with a SSH CLI and WebGUI.
With EIM, all the manufacturing customer would need to do is drop numerous Edgeline systems on the factory floor, connect them to the network, click to set them all up automatically with a pre-defined profile of firmware and software, and be up and running in a short period of time. Additionally, most of these activities can now be done remotely, eliminating the costly need to send IT staff on site for installation or break-fix support.
HPE Edgeline Integrated System Manager (iSM):
HPE Edgeline Infrastructure Manager (EIM) Software:
HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform Software for fast, simple and secure Converged OT deployment
Finally, we are introducing the HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform (OTP) hardware and software, and HPE Edgeline Workload Orchestrator (EWO) software to make the deployment of Converged OT on any industry standard x86 platform very straightforward. The HPE Edgeline EL300 offers many OT Link certified OT I/O modules, for which hardened drivers have been developed and rigorous validation and security assessment has already been conducted. The OT Link Platform (OTP) software automatically recognizes and exposes all OT Link certified hardware in the system to the user without any manual intervention needed, making the days of hunting for an appropriate MODBUS or CANbus driver history! It can then do automatic discovery over these interfaces to detect endpoints such as PLCs or DCSs from dozens of top OT vendors, and then easily map data tags from these endpoints to measured parameters.
Ingested data can then be orchestrated into flows in an intuitive graphical drag-and-drop manner, and analytics can be performed either locally through containerized applications or through cloud connectors to common public/private clouds or on-premise software. Minimal to zero coding is needed to setup these flows, greatly easing adoption into OT environments that lack skilled developers.
HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform (OTP) Software
The HPE Edgeline Workload Orchestrator (EWO) is an optional site-level augmentation to the HPE Edgeline OT Link Platform software that runs on each system, and provides simple, centralized deployment and management of containerized applications, middleware, and flows. These device and data models can be defined and managed in one place, before being deployed over the network to individual edge systems, depending on their specific use case.
HPE Edgeline Workload Orchestrator (EWO) Software
HPE will provide Field Application Engineering (FAE) services through our HPE PointNext services organization to help customers plan, design, build and run Converged OT solutions on our industry leading technologies. We are also working with numerous IT and OT partners to add their specialized hardware and software technologies into the HPE Edgeline “OT Link certified” ecosystem, and can share the APIs, SDKs and design specifications to others who are interested.
HPE is building on our pioneering leadership in the Converged Edge Systems product space with the killer combination of the new HPE Edgeline EL300 system, remote edge-optimized Integrated System Manager (iSM), multi-system management with Edgeline Infrastructure Manager (EIM) software, and finally the revolutionary OT Link Platform (OTP) suite of hardware and software. This combination along with HPE Edgeline OT Link FAE services, greatly shorten the time for customers to go from concept to value, without compromising on reliability and security that is highly desired in the operations arena.
Are you attending HPE Discover 2018 in Madrid? If so, make sure to stop by the Edgeline Galleria, as well attending our Converged Edge System, Edge Systems Management and OT Link sessions and panels. If you are not attending, you can still watch executives from HPE, partners and customers at online live sessions and replays.
About the Author
Bharath leads WW Product Management & Marketing for the Converged Servers, Edge and IoT Systems Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). He’s currently driving adoption of HPE’s pioneering Converged Edge System products and solutions specifically designed to tackle the challenge of collecting, rapidly analyzing and actioning on the enormous quantities of data being generated at the various “Edges” such as Industrial IoT, Telco, Media and Enterprise. Over his 14-year career in HP/HPE, Bharath has worked on over 20 products in roles ranging from hardware engineering to program management. Prior to joining HP/HPE he designed avionics systems for spacecraft, and is a keen proponent of IT+OT convergence, especially at the edge.