App Management on the Edge


The Industrial Internet of Things has well and truly arrived, with manufacturers around the world having access to a vast assortment of smart machines with clever app features for tailoring their functionality perfectly to their needs. But where to start? To really kick off the connected, app-driven, and smarter industry of tomorrow, end users need an app marketplace that they trust and know how to use, with apps that they know will work on their equipment, and everything with confidence in legal, commercial, technical and – not least – security terms. The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, Hilscher, and Wibu-Systems have come together to showcase how this can be done with the OI4 Community App Store, Docker containers for interoperability, and CodeMeter for safe operations and secure intellectual property.

Today, the world of industrial applications is very diverse and forms a complex ecosystem that entails a multitude of technical requirements. Due to the current complexity of the brownfield environment, a broad acceptance of existing applications and their ease of use are bogged down, if not made even impossible.

The overarching goal is to place the user experience first and foremost so that end users can move to the ecosystem of their choosing, without being permanently tied to a particular infrastructure. Wider choice, more flexibility in deployment, and rapid response to changes are the direct results of these greater freedoms.

As we all know, digitalization is now in full swing. Triple-digit billions are being invested in this sector, with everyone, regardless of their role in the value chain, expecting increased productivity and shorter delivery and setup times.  The end game:  improved inventory management, shorter market entry cycles, reduced batch sizes, and sustainability in the form of energy efficiency and optimization of the resources utilized.

The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance (OI4) gathers manufacturers and providers of Industry 4.0 solutions and services worldwide aimed at successfully transitioning customers to the Industrial Internet of Things. The group has developed a joint approach with all its members to reach tangible results on the path towards a complete digitalization of the manufacturing industry.

Three main stakeholders come into play:

  • The application providers, who bundle their expertise in professional apps and make them available to a broad market;
  • The store operators, who provide the end users with a large number of applications and map legal, commercial, and technical aspects in their systems;
  • The end users, who don’t want to deal with the complexity of different store systems and expect trustworthy platforms.

Hilscher, a name that has stood for trendsetting automation solutions for over 35 years, and Wibu-Systems, a global leader in software monetization via protection, licensing, and security, are members of OI4 and ready to demonstrate this constructive attitude during this live masterclass.

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A significant contribution to digitalization projects comes from systems that bundle machine and equipment data and make it available in a framework based on well-established standards.

The basis for data acquisition in the overall architecture is provided by edge devices, where data access to the plant is granted, and the overlying device and container management such as that offered by Hilscher's netFIELD ecosystem.

Production environments and plants are always individually structured and require different additions and extensions with which the data acquisition and processing can be adapted for the respective use case. For an easy, efficient, and secure access to such extensions, the OI4 Community App Store will provide a broad-based and reliable solution compliant with the definitions of the Application Management Working Group in the OI4. In this webinar, we will show a sample deployment of an app on an edge device.

The mission of the OI4 Community App Store is to offer a multitude of apps from different publishers running on a wide spectrum of devices from several vendors. To achieve this goal, the (Docker) container approach was chosen, which then brought up two key requirements:

  • A simple integration of protection and licensing in a wide variety of applications.
  • A secure binding of the license in container environments like Docker.

This is where Wibu-Systems came into play to address these challenges. Wibu-Systems’ portfolio includes CodeMeter Protection Suite, a toolkit for easy integration of protection and licensing for different applications: .NET, JavaScript, Python, Java, as well as native applications developed in C/C++. The AxProtector module, included in CodeMeter Protection Suite, wraps itself around the app to be protected like a protective envelope and the protection layer is added automatically when the app is uploaded to the Store. With that, software publishers can simply concentrate on their genius work and leave the protection mechanism entirely to the system playing in the background.

For containerized systems like Docker, Wibu-Systems offers the option to bind licenses to the device and use them via a license manager that also runs in a container. In this webinar, we will give a practical demonstration using a .NET app as an example of how automatic protection works and how to use it in a local Docker environment.

During the live session, you will hear from the top experts of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, Hilscher, and Wibu-Systems. The speakers will provide an overview of the edge landscape and the work in progress with the OI4 Community App Store, as well as demonstrations of the mechanisms that the vendors have jointly put in place. Have your questions ready: we will reserve some time at the end of the session to address any topic you may want to bring up. Let’s make digitized automation work for all.

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