In an industrial context, the term edge management refers to the centralized and efficient management of a large number of edge gateways which are used in machines or production systems. Edge gateways perform various tasks, such as:
- remote access to user interfaces and APIs of the machines
- aggregation and analysis of machine data for industrial IoT applications
- run configuration and diagnostic tools
These edge gateways have one thing in common: they are small computers running an operating system and application software. The application software and the operating system must always be kept up to date. The operating system must meet today's security requirements. The application software is usually developed further on a regular basis, which means that new software updates have to be installed several times a year. The configuration of the software components is also subject to change, which should be rolled out and documented as efficiently and reliably as possible.
While such tasks can still be carried out manually for a few edge gateways, the task quickly becomes time-consuming and complex as the number of devices increases. A professional edge management system helps users to maintain an overview of the edge gateways and the software running on them. Software and configuration are rolled out efficiently and reliably with an edge management system.
Edge management systems offer a range of functions for this purpose. They enable the automatic onboarding of new edge gateways, monitoring of the device status, remote access to the edge gateway and underlying components, software distribution and configuration management. Ideally, industrial edge management systems already support the common industrial IoT protocols, such as OPC UA and MQTT, as well as the common fieldbus and real-time Ethernet protocols out of the box. An execution environment for edge software enables the smooth operation of in-house software applications; virtualization solutions such as container technologies have become established for this purpose.