As we welcome spring, we at Stratus wanted to reflect on our five most popular blogs of the last few months of winter. It’s no coincidence that they all had a common theme: the industrial internet of things (IIoT)—a clear indication that the IIoT is gaining traction as the next stage in the evolution of industrial automation.

Here are some of the key highlights from all five blogs:

This blog laid out our suggestions to help manufacturers set their sights in the right direction to begin adoption of IIoT. Priority one is to understand where IIoT fits in your existing business framework. Then, when you start your journey, we recommend going for the low-hanging fruit—short-term projects that produce quick benefits. And by building your IIoT project on a continuously available, easy to manage solution, you can focus solely on the business value, not the underlying technology.

How do you introduce a major architectural shift like IIoT without disrupting your legacy systems? We propose doing it one layer at a time. For example, start by layering analytics onto your existing historian, which helps institute this kind of change technically and organizationally. The next step is for IT and operations to work together harmoniously and deploy a virtualized, continuously available solution.

Not surprisingly, many of our blog readers want to quickly realize business value from IIoT without a complete infrastructure overhaul. Our answer: take a step-by-step approach. First, no IIoT initiative will return value if your operational technology infrastructure is outdated. So, start by upgrading your supervisory control systems environment. Then gradually introduce IIoT to individual sensors, actuators, and control valves to take automation and predictive management to a whole new level.

Our reporting from the 21st annual ARC Industry Forum in February further revealed just how much we are an industry in transition. Old traditions of strict physical separation between layers of the business—as illustrated in the Perdue model—are breaking down as IIoT begins to take hold. Lines have blurred as IT solutions, like analytics, find their way deep into the operations and process control world. Once again, we saw how convergence of IT and operational technology—or at least cooperation—is fundamental to IIoT success.

One of the biggest benefits of IIoT is reducing unplanned downtime. We offer four IIoT best practices to turn downtime into uptime. First, know the cost of downtime for your company and determine how much is tolerable. Next, look to prevent outages wherever possible rather than just recover after the damage has been done. Lastly, simplify your life by consolidating IT and operational technology using virtualization—but be sure to do this on a continuously available system. And finally, always build on industry standards to make future changes easier.

A consistent thread running through these blogs is that you can’t do IIoT all at once. Take a thoughtful, incremental approach. And keep it simple by choosing a virtualized, continuously available infrastructure for your IIoT projects—just what Stratus offers. We hope these ideas plant some healthy seeds for IIoT projects you can pursue the rest of this year.