The Art of the Possible: Build an MQTT network super fast

Posted by Josh Eastburn on Mar 29, 2022 11:45:40 AM

Want to get started with MQTT today? Ian Skerrett of HiveMQ shows you how, as our guest series on the open automation ecosystem continues.

Many companies are turning to MQTT and Sparkplug to simplify the process of acquiring their industrial data. MQTT provides lightweight, publish/subscribe communication that allows you to decouple hardware from software. By removing these dependencies, you can also remove the data silos that have existed in many industrial deployments. Sparkplug provides a common format for industrial operators to send data that can be processed by different applications. The openness and data interoperability of Sparkplug makes it possible to start implementing many IIoT use cases.

At the heart of an MQTT or Sparkplug network, there is always an MQTT broker, which is responsible for coordinating the messages between the publishing and subscribing clients. MQTT brokers are a new concept for many in the industrial automation industry, but there are many options for getting started. HiveMQ and Opto 22 make it easy.

Here, I’ll present the four ways to deploy an MQTT broker for your MQTT and Sparkplug networks and help you pick the one that’s best for your company.

1. Managed MQTT broker service

For some companies, managing an MQTT broker is not something they want to worry about. This is why HiveMQ makes available a managed MQTT broker called HiveMQ Cloud. It’s the easiest way to use an MQTT broker, and you can get started in just 3 steps:

  1. Set up an account on HiveMQ Cloud.
  2. A broker cluster is automatically created for you along with a unique URL that you can use to access the cluster from each MQTT client.
  3. Set up and distribute client credentials (username and password) for each client that needs to access the broker. With HiveMQ Cloud your clients always need to authenticate with TLS in order to secure the communication between the client and broker.

HiveMQ Cloud is ready to receive MQTT messages immediately. It really is that simple. You don’t need to worry about installing any software. Best of all, HiveMQ Cloud is free to use for up to 100 devices and 10GB of data per month.

Rust Automation & Controls uses HiveMQ Cloud to connect their remote tank monitoring network.

2. Open source MQTT broker deployed in a data center

For other companies, it is important that their MQTT broker resides within their factory or corporate data center. These companies have the skills to deploy and administer an MQTT broker on their own.

There are many MQTT brokers available from the open source community, including HiveMQ Community Edition. Be aware, though, that open source brokers don’t typically have a support team to help you with production issues. If you deploy an open source broker into production you need to be confident that:

  1. Downtime can be tolerated for a period of time.
  2. You have the knowledge to resolve production issues that may occur.

For companies that don’t require commercial technical support, integration options, or scalability infrastructure, open source licensing makes it easy to build their own MQTT solution.

3. Commercial broker deployed in a data center

On the other hand, purchasing a commercial MQTT broker is highly recommended for companies that are deploying business-critical systems. An MQTT broker can be a single point of failure in a system, so it is essential that it has the ability to provide high availability and fault tolerance to ensure continued operation. 

Deploying a commercial broker in a corporate data center or in a factory allows for optimal control of the broker and the data flowing through it. Many companies will choose to deploy brokers in multiple locations for redundancy and then bridge these brokers to a centralized data center broker.

HiveMQ Professional and Enterprise Editions offer the reliability and scalability features required for production deployments of business-critical applications. HiveMQ clustering technology allows for a broker cluster to operate in a reliable manner to offer very high availability and fault tolerance.

Daimler runs its Vehicle Diagnostics System through HiveMQ located in more than 20 factories around the world. 

4. Commercial broker deployed to a cloud platform

Finally, many companies are looking to deploy their MQTT broker to one of the major cloud platforms. A recent IIoT World survey suggested that more than 57% of respondents plan to use a cloud computing platform for their IIoT strategy. Cloud platforms allow companies to outsource the operation of their data centers. Companies still need to operate the software to run their applications.

HiveMQ allows for easy deployment of the HiveMQ MQTT broker on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. HiveMQ can be deployed to Kubernetes or run on standard instances. Kubernetes deployment is supported by a Kubernetes operator and Helm charts.

Berlex decided to run HiveMQ on Azure for remote monitoring of their R6 mobile traffic lights. 

Get connected

Introducing an MQTT broker into an OT environment may be a new concept, but getting started is pretty easy. If you want to try it for yourself, I would recommend you sign-up for a HiveMQ Cloud account and discover what is possible with a fully managed MQTT broker.

Regardless of which method you choose, moving industrial data into a HiveMQ instance is simple using the native MQTT publishing capabilities in any of Opto 22’s groov RIO or groov EPIC edge devices. 

Once an MQTT broker is deployed for your company, the art of the possible becomes so much easier to implement.


-- Ian Skerrett, VP of Marketing, HiveMQ






Topics: MQTT, groov EPIC, groov RIO, Art of the Possible, HiveMQ

Written by Josh Eastburn

After 12 years as an automation engineer working in the semiconductor, petrochemical, food and beverage, and life sciences industries, Josh Eastburn works with the engineers at Opto 22 to understand the needs of tomorrow's customers.
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