ABB and HPE narrowing the OT/IT gap

Posted on 29 Nov 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Robotics giant ABB is accelerating its move into the IT space with a new partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). The goal is to make on-site data-driven decision making faster and more actionable through HPE’s expertise in edge computing.

ABB Robotics refurbishes training centre to reflect the new era for UK manufacturing
The relationship between ABB and HPE is designed to maximise data functions at the edge- image courtesy of ABB

Nick Peters reports live from Madrid where the announcement was made yesterday (28 November) at HPE’s annual Discover expo.

ABB began its move from being a purely OT (Operations technology) player into IT in 2016 with the development of its ABB Ability system, followed soon after by a partnership with Microsoft’s cloud division Azure.

The goal was to create an open platform for a raft of independently-produced digital apps.

The relationship with HPE is designed to maximise data functions at the edge – that is, high-powered computing placed on or next door to machines – in order to create an on-site data loop that allows machines to learn from their own behaviours.

The partnership will enable ABB Ability apps to run on hybrid platforms such as HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack, enabling customers to deploy applications to their preferred location – on HPE infrastructure in industrial plants and data centres or in the Microsoft Azure public cloud

Edge computing is an important factor where immediate decision-making is required due to the latency implicit in a cloud service, or where it is important for compliance, security and reliability.

Potential applications include remote sites where Internet connections are patchy, or where a company wishes to keep certain blocks of data private while using the cloud for anything that is not so time- or security- critical.

Research firm IDC forecasts that worldwide spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) will grow to $1.4 trillion in 2021 from an expected $800bn in 2017.

The largest investments are being made in areas such as manufacturing, transportation and utilities(1). To tap into the opportunities of the IoT, companies are investing in new solutions that digitize their industrial equipment and integrate it with their broader IT environments.

“This alliance between two global leaders is unprecedented in terms of breadth and depth, and it will be ground-breaking for the progress of the Industrial Internet of Things,” said Meg Whitman, CEO, HPE.

Whitman added: “Together with ABB, we will shape a digital industrial future where everything computes, equipping machines with intelligence to collaborate, allowing plants to flexibly adapt to changing demands, and enabling global supply chains to instantaneously react to incidents.

“This partnership will create exciting business opportunities for our joint customers.”

“This strategic partnership marks the next level of the digital industrial transformation. Together, we will bring intelligence from cloud-based solutions to on-premises deployments in industrial plants and data centres for greater uptime, speed and yield,” said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer.

Spiesshofer added: “ABB and HPE will deliver solutions that span the entire range of computing required by enterprises today, from the edge to the cloud to the core.”

(1) IDC Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide see here.