Industrial Internet Reference Architecture

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) comprises energy, healthcare, manufacturing, public sector, transportation and related industrial systems. Many Industrial Internet systems operate in mission critical environments and demand high standards of security, performance and scalability – different from those in the consumer and commercial sectors.

In summers 2015 Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) released the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA). The IIC is the largest of the Internet of Things (IoT) consortia with over 170 members ( targeted  for Industrial Internet. The Industrial Internet Reference Architecture is the product of hundreds of hours of work by the members of the Industrial Internet Consortium Technology Working Group.

The first public release of the IIRA is a formal overview of the systems architecture from a high-level perspective: It covers everything from business goals to system inter-operability. The reference architecture explicitly identifies four separate but interrelated sets of concerns and points of view: The business viewpoint, the usage viewpoint, the functional viewpoint, and the implementation viewpoint.

Although it is written in high-level perspective, it establishes many key technical guidelines – and specifically eliminates many approaches that are not desirable. An architecture is as much about what you can’t do as what you can do. This is a good start towards accelerating the realization of value from Industrial Internet Systems.

Ultimately, the IIoT is about building distributed systems. Connecting all the parts intelligently so the system can perform, scale, evolve, and function optimally is a complex task that IIRA tries to clarify. The core standard is very much a distributed concept: Some endpoints can connect directly to the core standard. Other endpoints and subsystems connect through “gateways”. The core standard then connects them all together without having to bridge between all possible pairs (only one bridge to the core).

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The standard defines Industrial Internet Systems (IIS). We may want to quibble with the definition, but it’s certainly a good start, and a useful term.

For those who are looking for more technical details, the document identifies a three-tier IIS Architecture: an Edge Tier, a Platform Tier, and an Enterprise Tier. There three different networks connecting the tiers: Proximity Network, Access Network, and Service Network.


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The above model look very sensible. You can compare this model to IoT model I posted a year ago in My IoT model posting:

When building Internet of Things systems, you can’t forget security. To make security work correctly, it must be intimately married to the architecture. There is a good analysis of key system concerns, such as safety, security, and data management, including an in-depth discussion of security, trust, and privacy requirements. All those are important points to consider.

The IIRA outlines several data quality of service capabilities for the connectivity core standard. These ensure efficient, reliable, secure operation for critical infrastructure.


This animated video provides the background and explains the benefits of the Industrial Internet Consortium’s (IIC) Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA):

For more details, go to Industrial Internet Reference Architecture page and give out some information to DOWNLOAD A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OF THE INDUSTRIAL INTERNET REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE.

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  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IIC Releases Updated IIoT Reference Architecture

    The Industrial Internet Consortium has developed and released IIRA Version 1.8, an update of its reference architecture.

    Using the internet for industrial purposes has just become a tad easier. The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) – the member-driven global organization that promotes the accelerated growth of the IIoT – has published version 1.8 of the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA). The new version builds on version 1.7, which was originally published in June 2015. Version 1.8 incorporates emerging new IIoT technologies, concepts, and applications.

    The update was created by studying the deployment of IIoT systems that used the earlier version of the IIRA. “We’re trying to capture cross-industry use cases and refine the architecture we released in 2015,” Mark Crawford, open standards strategist at SAP, told Design News.

    Not Just for Industrial Internet Systems

    Crawford explained that those multiple industries include consumer IoT as well as industrial IoT. “While we have a partnership with Industry 4.0 for manufacturing, people need to understand that the IIC is dealing with a broader scope,” said Crawford. “Even within the consumer IoT, there are forms of industrial internet. We’re going to see more and more of those relationships between the consumer IoT and the IIoT, so the reference architecture and the security need to be available for both the industrial and consumer sides.”

    The new version of IIRA focuses on the process of developing IIoT system rather than the actual technology involved. “The hurdles with 1.7 were not technical. There was no cry from members on the concepts needed to architect an IIoT system. We were getting praise from systems architects,” said Crawford. “We’ve improved the architecture so that each viewpoint leads into the next viewpoint and as systems architects move through it. It helps to validate and revise the previous viewpoints.”


    Why a New Version of the IIRA?

    Like all Industrial Internet Consortium publications, the IIRA is a living document that will continually represent the latest thinking of the Industrial Internet Consortium and the IIoT community. Industrial Internet Consortium publications are addressing every aspect of the emerging IIoT and our Working Groups are committed to delivering practical, implementable deliverables that reflect new technologies, new concepts, and new applications as they emerge.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:


    We are pleased to announce the Industrial Internet of Things Analytics Framework (Industrial IoT Analytics Framework) for system architects, technology leaders and business leaders looking to successfully deploy industrial analytics systems.

    Advanced analytics is at the core of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). When analytics are applied to machine and process data, they help optimize decision-making and enable intelligent operations. These new insights and intelligence can be applied across any level of any industry if the appropriate data can be collected and analytics are applied correctly. If data is the new oil, data analytics is the new engine that propels the IIoT transformation.

    Leading the way

    Enterprises using analytics produce products and services much more quickly and safely and maintain quality with full accountability for their processes much faster than their competitors (2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index report by Deloitte & Touche). The Industrial Internet Consortium is leading the way in offering industrial analytics guidance in evolving fields such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

    The Industrial IoT Analytics Framework is the first document to offer the broadest scope of requirements and concerns for analytics for IIoT systems.

    The Industrial Internet of Things
    Volume T3: Analytics Framework

    This document supplements the IIC
    Industrial Internet of Things Reference Architecture (
    detailing Industrial Analytics crosscutting concerns.
    the concepts
    and components
    required to create a viable analytical system and the charact
    eristics of
    so the technologies
    provide the necessary services to perform successfully and correctly in an industrial
    This document presents an architectural
    of Industrial Inter
    net of Things
    systems using
    approach as the IIRA
    the architecture viewpoints
    (business, usage, functional and implementation), which in turn was based on
    architecture concepts.

  3. Prasad M N says:

    Hi Tomi Engdahl,

    Really a Great Article, Keep up the good work.


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