Vladimir Grechushkin, Schneider Electric: Interest in peripheral calculations grows very quickly
Questions of TAdviser on peripheral calculations were answered by Vladimir Grechushkin, the head on work with strategic customers of the energy sector and nuclear sector of division of Secure Power of Schneider Electric company.
When in the world mass interest in a subject of peripheral calculations (Edge computing) was for the first time shown? What causes interest in commercial application of this technology?
Vladimir Grechushkin: Interest is connected with global digitalization. In turn, development of digitalization was provided by such technology factors as wide circulation of Internet of Things (IoT), reduction in cost of computing resources, development of wireless communication.
But a pacing factor - purely economic. This gain of competitive struggle in all spheres of economy. It demanded reconsideration and business process optimization, increase in efficiency for the purpose of production of more competitive products. However to construct modern highly effective business without full use of digital technologies today it is impracticable.
Also digitalization got support and from the state implementing transition to new way of economy. At the time of the Soviet Union its electrification, and today - digitalization was the defining factor of competitiveness of production. Thanks to it the enterprises can reduce the risks connected with a human factor, increase efficiency, lower production costs, improve possibilities of control of observance of production technologies.
A certain date when peripheral calculations became a mainstream in the world to call difficult. In Russia mass interest, in terms of commercial application, began to be shown about three years ago.
Thus, growth of peripheral calculations – result of action of set of technology and economic factors …
Vladimir Grechushkin: Really, development of peripheral calculations was defined by both objective economic need, and technology development.
Distribution of complex tools of analytics, including predictive, for the industry, power and other spheres of economy, resulted in need to provide these systems with timely receipt of qualitative primary data for carrying out the analysis. It is, including, and about the analytics which is based on elements of artificial intelligence, machine learning, neuronets.
Internet of Things can provide such primary data. In a case with manufacturing enterprises – industrial Internet of Things. The sensors installed on industrial equipment allow to obtain information on an operation mode, performance, possible malfunctions, etc.
However, for a number of reasons, to send these data directly from end devices to the central DPC of the organization where applications of analytics are, as a rule, placed, it can not be represented possible. In that case it is necessary to create the peripheral computing nodes located in close proximity to the place of creation of data.
Can you give examples of the tasks solved based on peripheral calculations in specific industry?
Vladimir Grechushkin: In chemical production, for example, it is possible to trace what amount of raw materials is spent for a certain amount of products, and if the disproportion is revealed, it is possible to correct it timely and quickly. On serial production it is possible to control better work of industrial equipment, to predict its probable breakdown and to perform preventive repair on the basis of the primary data collected from the machines processed using applications of predictive analytics.
Whether it is possible to solve similar problems based on exclusively cloud computing in their understanding which developed for today?
Vladimir Grechushkin: For a number of reasons, cloud approach in its classical option is not suitable for the solution of these tasks. First, to send data from the equipment directly to a cloud – often technically unrealizable task as the sensors installed on the equipment work under other protocols, than than classical computer networks. Owing to this fact a certain controller or the gateway on which one side there are sensors working, for example, under RS-485 protocol, and on another – an information system is necessary.
Critical, in respect of direct application of cloud computing for peripheral calculations, the moment is connected by the second with security: for a number of infrastructure facilities it is not possible to send data from sensors in not encrypted form on security policies. Respectively, it is necessary to create the local communication hubs providing data protection by their transfer, for example, due to enciphering.
The third reason – 'crude' data can 'weigh' much. For example, the data received at geological exploration can take a lot of place, and communication channels where it is carried out, can be inadequate quality. In that case preprocessing will need to be carried out 'on site'.
At last it is impossible to forget also about independent operation of the enterprise. If work of systems is inseparably linked with permanent existence of communication with a cloud, then in case of an emergency situation, for example, physical damage of communication lines, for lack of autonomous local computing nodes, it can lead to production idle time, or customer service, so - to direct economic loss for the organization.
In what qualitative differences of local or peripheral environments of calculations from the distributed IT environments which customers built earlier?
Vladimir Grechushkin: It is possible to select two big scopes of traditional distributed computing. The first – a cluster of computers integrates in network and works on one, general task. Actually it is one computing node though distributed in space. However this construction is not hierarchical: it is homogeneous computing environment.
The second example – a hierarchical system: DPC and the remote platform on which the local file server or other system which however does not have the same criticality for business as a system core is placed, for example. Therefore customers, in a sense, sacrificed reliability of such remote nodes that was economically reasonable.
In a case with peripheral calculations a situation complex. Available the hierarchical structure – is the central DPC and peripheral nodes which transfer data to higher levels, and them can be significantly more than two.
However important feature is that at the same time remote nodes are so critical for business, as well as the central DPC. If the analytics ceased to come from sensors quickly, business ceases to understand what occurs on objects.
And it is other concept of creation of a system in general when IT and business – a single whole. The similar situation was always characteristic of banking sector because if touch with department is lost, the bank is not capable to service clients. In this sense industrial enterprise today everything more begins to work as bank.
Thus, penetration depth of IT in business became much more than than the level of automation of office tasks or accounting, it reached basic production processes …
Vladimir Grechushkin: Absolutely truly, and online. Recently I talked to the head of large industrial holding. He was recognized that he feels working in the large IT company or in bank because the quantity of IT systems which it needs to manage, grows exponential.
What problems can the customer at creation of infrastructure for Edge-nodes face?
Vladimir Grechushkin: The customer needs to rethink approach to creation of remote computing nodes, to realize criticality for business of their continuous and reliable work. On the remote platform it is necessary to construct failsafe infrastructure. And, on places can not be the selected server premises, and the equipment, at the same time, needs to be provided with the cooling system, the reliable power supply deleted with monitoring, to create protection against the aggressive external environment – for example, hits of dust or moisture in the expensive equipment that can cause its failure.
Therefore the integrated, finished solutions with a full range of the built-in engineering systems and the corresponding IP protection of the installed equipment can be required that can be especially relevant for productions with an aggressive environment: such as metallurgy, chemical or oil and gas industry.
The centralized monitoring of parameters of the environment, status of the IT equipment and IT infrastructure extremely vazhnen for big network of remote objects as it is impossible to provide permanent finding on each of them of change of the qualified specialists understanding and in the server hardware, both in conditioning, and in other subsystems.
Requirements to a response time on the arising problems as idle time of peripheral nodes, so and everything, the related systems, can lead to significant losses for business grow.
Can you give examples of projects of successful creation of peripheral calculations? Main directions?
Vladimir Grechushkin: It is possible to select three big directions of peripheral calculations from the point of view of the sphere of their application – commercial, or office, telecommunication and industrial.
As an example of the commercial direction, it is possible to give retail network which, within the program of decrease in losses from theft of goods, implements a video surveillance system with image identification. For this purpose, in the selected premises the rack with the equipment for collecting of video signal, computing nodes for its processing and storage system for archive materials will be placed.
Creation at the enterprise of a wireless network for collection of information from the sensors installed on industrial equipment can be an example of the second direction. Controllers for connection of radio receiving stations can be placed in specialized telecommunication cabinets with the built-in uninterrupted power and ventilation.
At last the project creation of the ASCAPC system when in unprepared premises the cabinets specialized, protected from influence of the external environment where controllers gateways to which all necessary measuring devices are connected are installed are established can be an example of the third, industrial direction. At the same time these cabinets provide protection of the equipment against dust, moisture, have the built-in UPS, the cooling system, power distributions and remote monitoring.
I will emphasize that on each of three directions in Russia we already implement projects.
What key factors for successful project implementation of creation of peripheral calculations in the geographically distributed company can be selected?
Vladimir Grechushkin: The first key factor – standardization. The account of computing nodes can go on hundreds and even on thousands. Therefore if to do unique solutions on each of them, it can lead to huge organizational, logistic, financial problems at a stage both implementation, and operation.
What is meant standardization? How exactly it is performed?
Vladimir Grechushkin: At the initial stage of the project it is necessary to inspect all platforms where the equipment is planned to installation and to carefully document all requirements. It is necessary to specify features of installation, restriction on dimensions, weight. Features of the environment – availability of dust, moisture, non-standard temperature conditions, etc.
On the next stage all variety of requirements comes down to several standard solutions.
What other critical factors?
Vladimir Grechushkin: The second factor is the remote centralized monitoring that is especially important for remote objects without permanent presence of the prepared personnel.
At last, the third is a data security provision at a stage of their transfer and physical protection of the server hardware. First of all the speech should go about ensuring access control to the server hardware. Now it is easy to solve such problem, having put locks with the reader of cards of access.
Vladimir Grechushkin: It, certainly, depends on the customer's profile, however the risk can be rather high, and this aspect needs to pay not smaller attention, than security in DPC. Parts depend on specifics of the specific project, but it is possible to select several general tasks. The first - protection of infrastructure on an information hub from remote access of the malefactor. It becomes specialized means of protecting. The second important point requiring control is a monitoring and logging of actions of those who have direct access to the equipment that the malefactor insider could not arrange sabotage. For the solution of this task Schneider Electric has a wide portfolio of well proved solutions. At last, the third aspect of security – protection of the data transferred on network not to allow illegal access in the course of their transfer.
The new standard of mobile communication of a 5G can press or even to drive peripheral calculations out of the market? Do you see such risk?
Vladimir Grechushkin: Today the 5G occasionally is positioned as "a silver bullet" for Internet of Things, but problems about which we spoke above – incompatibility of protocols, too large volume of 'crude' data, secured provision of independent operation, and some other - anywhere will not leave.
One more serious problem 5G is a limited covering. On remote objects, out of localities, the covering can be absent. But even in the large city, on large enterprise, there can be problems with a signal because of a large number of heavy industrial equipment which can shield a cellular signal.
In these cases creation of a local 5G of network can be required that, in turn, will demand creation of the corresponding infrastructure. In my opinion, technologies 5G and peripheral calculations can effectively supplement each other.
In general, it is possible to tell with confidence that interest in peripheral calculations grows very quickly, but, together with it, also the accumulated experience, and a portfolio of ready-made solutions grows. Therefore now, at emergence of a problem of creation of peripheral infrastructure, it is not necessary to create everything 'from scratch' any more – it is possible to use rich examination of both foreign, and Russian projects. We are ready to share with pleasure this experience to minimize risks of our customers.