The increasing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) within industrial settings will trigger new data management needs and substantial growth in the number of connected industrial devices, according to a new report from ABI Research.

Indeed, the number of connected programmable industrial controllers will triple -- growing at an average rate of 20% from 2014 to 2020, the firm estimates. Data created at the network edge -- and information flowing between the edge and centalized data centers -- will create new IT management and analytics needs.

“Compared to the general-purpose conventional networks, industrial networks are characterized by a large variety of technologies and communication protocols, whose combination is determined by the requirements of the specific application they address,” Eugenio Pasqua, research analyst at ABI Research, said in a statement.

“As a consequence, there is typically little interoperability with conventional networks, but also between different industrial networks,” Pasqua said. “Sharing data among different facilities or with the higher levels of an enterprise remains a very challenging task within this context.”

The technological advances of the past decade are slowly changing this, however. The diffusion of Ethernet and IP-based industrial protocols, as well as the improved intelligence of industrial devices, have reduced the differences between conventional and industrial networks, ABI says.

This allows an easier interconnection between enterprise IT applications and industrial equipment and the associated software.

“Through the adoption of IoT technologies, industrial organizations can make better use of the huge amount of data generated inside their facilities and extract more meaningful information,” Pasqua said. “This allows a better vision of what happens along the whole supply chain, achieving better performance at lower operating costs and the ability to react faster to changes or issues.”

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