Ten Key Considerations for Selecting an MQTT Broker for UNS

Ten Key Considerations for Selecting an MQTT Broker for UNS

author Kudzai Manditereza

Written by Kudzai Manditereza

Category: UNS IIoT MQTT

Published: August 23, 2023

MQTT has emerged as the predominant messaging protocol for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This open-standard protocol is lightweight, operates on an event-driven mechanism, and employs the publish-subscribe model for device communication. In this setup, data producers and consumers communicate through specific topics, all facilitated by a central entity, the MQTT broker.

One of MQTT’s standout features is its efficiency in supporting the Unified Namespace (UNS). This architectural design standardizes how a manufacturing business organizes its structures and events. Essentially, the UNS becomes the single source of truth for all data and information in the enterprise, ensuring every network participant knows where to locate the information it requires. It stands as the core hub for all information exchange within the organization.

For such a seamless integration, the choice of the correct MQTT broker becomes pivotal. This article will shed light on the vital considerations you should make when selecting an MQTT broker for UNS implementation.

1. Support for Standard MQTT Protocol

An ideal MQTT broker for Unified Namespace should comply with the OASIS Standard MQTT Specifications, specifically the MQTT 3.1, MQTT 3.1.1, and MQTT 5.0 protocols. By doing so, organizations can establish a UNS Ecosystem compatible with numerous devices and software applications. This compatibility empowers them to select top-tier tools for their UNS implementation.

2. MQTT Sparkplug Specification Compliance

The MQTT Sparkplug specification offers a standardized topic namespace, state management, and data structure. By using this specification in UNS implementation, organizations can reduce engineering effort and costs associated with managing MQTT topics to form UNS hierarchical structures, as well as in data mapping and transformation.

In addition to standard Sparkplug compliance, an MQTT broker can include Sparkplug features that extend the state management approach of Sparkplug to enhance a UNS architecture.

3. MQTT Bridging

Typically, to achieve low latency processing and enhanced flexibility in UNS implementation, manufacturers want to deploy an MQTT broker at the edge with its individual local UNS at each location, and subsequently use MQTT bridging to consolidate all the local UNSes into a single, enterprise-wide UNS structure on a central MQTT broker.

4. Scalability and Performance

An MQTT Broker plays a huge role in UNS implementation as it may contain the entire UNS with a large number of devices connecting to it and depending on it for real-time of the organization’s current state. As an organization advances its digital transformation, the MQTT broker must scale accordingly. To meet these growing demands, it’s ideal for the MQTT broker to have clustering capabilities, ensuring high availability and the capacity to manage an expanding volume of data for UNS.

5. Enterprise Data Integration Capabilities

The Unified Namespace offers a real-time view or a snapshot of your business’s current status. Yet, for future reference, advanced analytics, and training machine learning models, this data must be archived. An optimal UNS MQTT broker should seamlessly integrate data into both time-series and structured databases for this purpose. For instance, HiveMQ offers an extension system that facilitates enterprise-level data integration.

6. Observability, Management, and Monitoring Capability

In a UNS ecosystem, the observability, management, and monitoring tools provided by an MQTT broker can be the deciding factor between seamless operations and extended disruptions. Essential features such as dashboards, logging, and real-time monitoring are pivotal. They enable teams to trace messages across the complex systems within UNS, offering a comprehensive view of each message’s journey. This traceability aids teams in quickly identifying issues, determining impacted systems, and addressing them before they escalate into substantial challenges. Notably, HiveMQ’s Distributed Tracing Extension integrates directly with OpenTelemetry, a leading open-source observability framework.

7. Reliable Data Delivery

When selecting a Unified Namespace MQTT broker, ensuring reliable data delivery is paramount. This is vital for the efficient operation of the UNS system, especially over unstable networks. For guaranteed message transmission, the broker should support all MQTT Quality of Service (QoS) levels: QoS 0 for “at most once”, QoS 1 for “at least once”, and QoS 2 for “exactly once” deliveries. HiveMQ’s features, like advanced message retention and offline message queuing, are crucial in addressing network latency challenges.

8. Enterprise-Grade Security

When implementing a Unified Namespace, security is of utmost importance. Opt for an MQTT broker specifically designed to protect Industrial IoT data from the device level to enterprise systems. It’s essential for the broker to provide a comprehensive range of security features. These should include:

  • TLS/SSL Encryption: Ensures encrypted data transfer.
  • Secure Websockets: Offers secure communication channels.
  • Multiple Authentication Methods: Support should range from traditional username/password to advanced methods like X.509 certificates and IP-based authentication.
  • Access Control Lists (ACLs): Provides fine-tuned authorization, determining who can access what data.

In addition to the above security mechanisms, HiveMQ sets itself apart with an API that facilitates custom security processes, such as integrating OAuth 2.0, enabling custom authentication, authorization, and permission strategies.

9. Cross-Platform Deployment

For a Unified Namespace MQTT broker, adaptability across deployment environments is essential. Whether it’s the type of cloud, the orchestration platform, or the operating system, having an MQTT broker that is adaptable across the board simplifies deployments, reduces compatibility issues, and ensures a smoother data flow in the Unified Namespace.

HiveMQ exemplifies this adaptability. It’s deployable on private, hybrid, and public clouds. With pre-built images, it seamlessly integrates with platforms like Kubernetes, OpenShift, and DC/OS. Moreover, it’s compatible with major public clouds like AWS and MS Azure and runs natively on Linux, Windows, and OS X.

10. Community and Support

When evaluating an MQTT broker for UNS, it’s essential to consider not just that broker’s technical merits but also the strength and vibrancy of its community ecosystem and professional support avenues. An active community offers a wealth of shared knowledge, best practices, and resources, facilitating quicker problem-solving and adaptability. Meanwhile, access to professional support ensures tailored solutions for complex challenges.

Conclusion

As the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) continues to evolve, MQTT has positioned itself as a pivotal protocol for efficient communication within this complex ecosystem. The Unified Namespace (UNS), an integral part of modern IIoT architecture, hinges on the capabilities of the chosen MQTT broker. This article has laid out ten crucial factors that organizations must consider to ensure optimal UNS implementation.

From scalability and reliable data delivery to observability to cross-platform deployment, these factors are fundamental to harnessing the full potential of the IIoT. Selecting the right MQTT broker not only simplifies UNS integration but also solidifies the foundation for a future-ready, scalable, and secure IIoT infrastructure. HiveMQ offers an enterprise-grade, full-featured MQTT broker that meets all of these requirements. Download it today to try it out as the foundation of your UNS.

author Kudzai Manditereza

About Kudzai Manditereza

Kudzai is an experienced Technology Communicator and Electronic Engineer based in Germany. As a Developer Advocate at HiveMQ, his goals include creating compelling content to help developers and architects adopt MQTT and HiveMQ for their IIoT projects. In addition to his primary job functions, Kudzai runs a popular YouTube channel and Podcast where he teaches and talks about IIoT and Smart Manufacturing technologies. He has since been recognized as one of the Top 100 global influential personas talking about Industry 4.0 online.

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