The first part of this two-part blog post described the digital transformation of manufacturing that is occurring as part of Industry 4.0 – the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It also discussed how the combination of Red Hat OpenShift and the IBM Cloud Pak solutions provide the complete set of capabilities for building, deploying, managing, and securing a data-driven, digitally-enabled manufacturing platform, and the importance of being able to deploy that as part of a hybrid multicloud strategy.

Having a complete hybrid multicloud platform and the requisite industry domain knowledge, however, is not always sufficient to creating successful solutions. You also need access to engineers with the deep skills and knowledge to build a cloud native digital platform.

Industry challenge: Cloud skills gap

A common challenge in adopting cloud native deployments is in understanding that traditional architectural approaches — particularly in the areas of scalability, resilience, and high availability — cannot be directly applied to cloud native deployments. Traditional designs often assume a static, inelastic platform and utilize workload approaches that assume persistence over restarts. By contrast, cloud native approaches are often stateless in order to benefit from the cloud platforms auto-provisioning, auto-scaling, and auto-redundancy.

Obtaining the correct skills is increasingly becoming a constraint for enterprises looking to transform their business. The logicworks 2020 Challenges in Cloud Transformation survey shows 94% of IT decision-makers face barriers to cloud success, with 86% reporting that a shortage of qualified talent will stall cloud projects in 2020. A 2019 report from 451 Research shows that “IT infrastructure teams face a DevOps and cloud-native technology skills gap,” showing shortages across the full spectrum of skills, from DevOps and application development through to container and Kubernetes administration.

This skills gap can be mitigated and the acceleration of cloud native transformational patterns can be achieved through adopting and using pre-existing, industry-specific solution patterns, configured for your needs and requirements, build on an enterprise grade industry platform.

Industry solutions: IBM Industry Architectures

IBM provides a set of Industry Solution Architectures — pre-defined patterns and extensible and customizable common solutions for a wide set of use cases across a number of industry verticals. These include Finance, Manufacturing, Retail, Supply Chain, Automotive, Insurance, Telecom, Healthcare, and Life Sciences.

These Industry Architectures are based on extensive industry expertise, knowledge, and best-practises and have been developed working in conjunction with some of the worlds’ largest enterprises in each industry segment. They provide a structure to provide hybrid cloud, data, and AI reference architectures that are specifically designed to address key industry requirements and business capabilities needed by industry clients. Furthermore, these are the foundation to a solution for common, repeatable industry use cases and patterns that are top of mind for the majority of clients within respective industries.

These patterns exploit Red Hat OpenShift and the IBM Cloud Pak solutions as the complete platform for building hybrid, multicloud solutions, and narrow the cloud skills gap by providing solutions that are already infused with cloud native best-practises, including availability, scalability, resilience, security, and observability:

These greatly improve time to value for adopting transformational patterns in each industry, whilst ensuring repeatability across a clients’ enterprise and solution portability across hybrid and multicloud environments.

In the Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 segment, there are nine solution patterns and scenarios. Each of those is built around a common architecture for the three-layered distributed architecture integrating the Edge environment on the Shop Floor with the Enterprise platform, shown below:

This architecture enables collection, normalization, and visualization of data, managing the integration and data exchange with existing Manufacturing systems. This enables data scientists to analyze production data using a metadata model for manufacturing and to deploy application patterns for specific use cases, such as intelligent workflows.

The architecture includes IT and OT security, rule-based cross-plant configuration management, and centralized logging, monitoring, and management.

IBM Industry 4.0: Plant Service Bus

One of the core components of this architecture is the Plant Service Bus (PSB). The PSB is positioned between Level 2 and level 3 of the Purdue model, at the Plant level, and provides the integration layer between OT and IT.

The PSB enables several integration patterns, including the following:

  • Data collection, transformation, and routing
  • Execution of workflows based on events.
  • In-factory, rule-based decision making and microservices deployment, enabling multi-layered decision logic
  • Service platform

Furthermore, it can be considered and applied for almost all Industry 4.0 use cases:

  • Monitoring of production infrastructure and production by fueling dashboards at various levels, with real-time and accurate information.
  • Feeding of operational data stores and corporate data lakes with production-related data in order to train advanced analytics predictive or prescriptive models, such as predictive maintenance or production optimization.
  • Intelligent workflows — such as production line changeover or line equipment maintenance action — allowing the operator to interact with OT equipment, plant, and enterprise applications

The PSB is a complex piece of software, and there are very limited IT skills in the plants. The combination of the PSB and hybrid cloud capabilities contributes, through automation and central management, to make the deployment, management, and operations of PSB components and related plant applications transparent to the plant operator,  and affordable from a TCO perspective.

The Plant Service Bus utilizes both the IBM Integration Bus (IBM App Connect Enterprise), and IBM MQ Series from the IBM Cloud Pak for Integration as the engine of the integration, transformation, and routing layer. Additionally, it exploits the IBM Operational Decision Manager from the IBM Cloud Pak for Automation, enabling flexible configuration to occur at the edge or shop floor, integration layer, and enterprise level based on rules defined in natural language that can be validated and deployed by a production planner and other non-IT staff:

The Plant Service Bus is built using cloud native design and architecture patterns, providing infrastructure as code configuration and deployment, continuous integration, and deployment pipelines. This enables simple, automated configuration, deployment, and management of the Plant Service Bus and the Cloud Pak middleware services across hundreds of manufacturing plants, with controlled configuration and software rollouts throughout the manufacturing multi-tier topology.

Additionally, the Plant Service Bus has built-in audit, logging, and metrics capabilities along with operational templates, providing central visualization and analytics and management capabilities across global hybrid cloud infrastructure.

This takes the time to deploy an integration layer from weeks to a few hours.

Industry 4.0 with OpenShift and the IBM Cloud Pak solutions

The IBM Industry Solution Architectures, including patterns like the Plant Service Bus, make it possible to leveraging IBM’s extensive industry domain knowledge and deep enterprise cloud native skills. This enables rapid transformation to Industry 4.0, mitigating skills gaps, reducing risk, ensuring best-practises in scalability, resilience, and security, and ensuring application portability.

Combined with Red Hat OpenShift and the IBM Cloud Pak solutions, this provides industry vertical solutions that can be deployed on a fully hybrid multicloud basis, enabling application portability between private and public clouds and between cloud providers.

Find out more about the Industry 4.0 Architecture Patterns on the IBM Cloud Architecture Center or read the Industry 4.0 & Cognitive Manufacturing white paper.

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