The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group


Edge Computing
Experience – Information technology

Ensure data sovereignty

Edge computing. Factory digitalization at the touch of a button – made simple and secure with just one “box”. The ONCITE edge cloud data centre takes care of it. Ertan Mutlu, Chief Sales Officer at German Edge Cloud, explains how in this interview.


Text Ulrich Kläsener ––– Photography

Mr. Mutlu, ONCITE earned first place in the Technology Innovation category of the Innovation Champions Award 2020. The panel of judges declared the product a lighthouse solution for German industry. What is ONCITE?
It is a data centre that is set up inside a factory, can be scaled to requirements and boasts high availability. It features a real-time capable cloud stack and a pre-installed, extendable portfolio of applications, for instance for processing and analysing industry data. It is located precisely where huge volumes of data are generated at a digital factory – in production.

Why there?
Market researchers estimate that the global volume of data will rise to 175 zettabytes in 2025. Some 80 per cent of that is being generated by growing digitalization in companies and a third of that data will need to be processed in real time. In highly automated production environments, the volumes of data are usually too large to be transferred raw to a far-off data centre – as usually happens. Moreover, the latency times associated with data transfer are simply too long for applications that are configured for real-time capability. By contrast, ONCITE is located directly on-site in production and it is this close physical proximity that makes real-time data processing and analysis possible. The solution stores and processes data virtually in real time and in production. It also harmonises the data for AI-based analyses, for example. The advantages of the cloud are thus combined with benefits for aspects such as data protection, autonomy, latency times and energy consumption.

Does ONCITE replace existing internal factory IT infrastructures?
Not really, even though existing software applications can be migrated to ONCITE. ONCITE supports co-existence in pre-existing IT landscapes that have usually grown organically and are not homogeneous. For example, it can use its Integration Service to ‘tap into’ machinery and plants that are fitted with sensors and feed the data into industry-specific applications that are available. ONCITE data can also be further processed in all public and private cloud systems. ONCITE operates on the plug & produce principle and can be put to use straight away.

What makes ONCITE really unique?
Our unique selling point is not one particular aspect but rather the solution as a whole. ONCITE is an all-in-one solution for processing and analysing industry data at your own production site. Companies don’t need to spend months and years working with a range of specialists for various parts of an edge-computing appliance. Instead, they get a combination of ready-to-use hardware and software.

In the automotive sector, data now needs to be transmitted to the digital production platforms of the major manufacturers. What can ONCITE do in terms of providing data to third parties?
You’re referring to the Volkswagen Industrial Cloud and the Open Manufacturing Platform used by BMW. Of course, suppliers can’t ignore demands from the OEM and top-tier supplier that these cloud platforms are filled with valid data – including in the sense of tracking and tracing. However, companies should be able to set their own rules. ONCITE automatically puts businesses in a position where they can easily provide data, but retain their data sovereignty. They decide whether anybody else can access their data at all and, if so, who can access which data and when.

Everything about the All-in-One-Edge-solution ONCITE can be found at oncite.io

What kind of IT systems does a manufacturer have to keep at their plant if they want to use ONCITE?
That depends entirely on the purpose of the application. We provide custom advice prior to the 15 to 30-day initial implementation and can work out the requirements in detail. Once the first steps have been taken, users can carry out additional implementations largely on their own.

  • Practical laboratory based on an edge cloud

    German Edge Cloud (GEC) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT situated in Aachen are developing an open research platform and test environment that can be used to research and test out solutions for digitalized production.

    The platform is named the Fraunhofer Edge Cloud (FEC) and is intended as a practical laboratory for science and industry. It is based on edge cloud technology from GEC and the International Data Spaces (IDS) architecture for secure data exchange that safeguards sovereignty.

    The first step in the project is to establish the Fraunhofer Edge Cloud for approximately 20 institutes. The next step involves plans to use the first distributed, real-time capable edge cloud network at Fraunhofer. The cloud is an important stepping stone towards standardising IT at Fraunhofer and making it fit for the future. The aim is to ensure that IT and cloud capacities can be put to a whole range of uses and that the necessary IT resources such as computing power, storage and network capacities can be easily scaled. At the same time, the cloud is to provide industry and research with a secure platform where data sovereignty is protected and where production solutions can be evaluated and developed more easily.

    The ONCITE edge cloud appliance is being used in the project. This plug & produce solution is based on a high-availability and scalable edge cloud technology in the form of a compact data centre. It gives companies the opportunity to make data usable in real time – on a highly secure basis that creates added value. The data generated is processed and saved on-site while a cloud supports data exchange. The company retains full sovereignty over its data throughout. “This means Fraunhofer staff can build and operate their virtual infrastructure entirely independently. The cloud framework gives them all the components and services they need for storage, computing and software-defined networking (SDN). The finishing touch is provided by a front end specially developed by German Edge Cloud that, among other things, simplifies access to the entire platform,” explains Dr Sebastian Ritz, CEO of German Edge Cloud.

     

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