How Does One Define an Architecture For an Internet of Everything?
In the 1980s, the International Standards Organization took upon the seemingly impossible task of bringing a feisty group of special interests together in an effort to replace proprietary networking protocols (of which there were dozens) with a common, standard set of protocols that could satisfy the needs of a wildly diverse set of applications, network genres (wide-area, local-area, satellite, fixed wireless and more), and commercial interests. Recognizing the challenge this posed, the committees responsible for this task decided to break the problem into layers. In 1984, it published its document ISO 7498, the Open Systems Interconnect Basic Reference Model which introduced the famous 7 layers that have girded the vocabulary of networking technology and culture in the decades since.
As influential as the OSI reference model was, it is worth noting that almost no one uses any of the protocols that were developed by those committees to implement that model, but the model itself stood the test of time because it accurately predicted the various problem domains that a diverse set of networking technologies would have to navigate and allowed different vendor to tailor their specific solutions to those needs while still interoperating with the technologies other vendors provided at other levels.
This is the goal of the XPDR reference model. It's founding member, RefractN, has developed specific technologies and protocols (minor extensions, really, of existing industry standards) to address current problems dealing with efficient transport of management information and enabling self-healing capabilities within intelligent devices. But the problem is much broader than simply transporting data and, as powerful the idea is to empower devices to take charge of their own health under the tutelage of a hands-off central server, there are still problems to solve at other layers. There may be better solutions at the layers that RefractN has proposed.
So in the best spirit of OSI's seven layer model, we propose the XPDR Reference Model and its own layers, each designed to address the specific realms they are defined to cover.
Several of the layers run end-to-end across the network from the back office to the local network:
The Local Layer - Covers communications with devices in the home, branch office or remote site.
The Fabric Layer - Provides high efficiency, low latency, reliable communication of a variety of kinds of data with security, scalability and complete failover support.
The Control Layer - Responsible for data integrity across the network ensuring that upstream data is reliably delivered to the right back office systems and that downstream data is reliably delivered to devices.
The Self-Healing Layer - Interprets data from a variety of sources, both in the device and in the environment to diagnose problems quickly and take appropriate action to remediate those problems.
Additionally, there are a couple layers that have been focused on integrating back office functions to provide a superior support experience:
The Analytics Layer - Consists of powerful tools to analyze data, locally in the device or subnet and globally in the back office to provide guidance to the other layers and to provide business intelligence for marketing, capacity planning and other purposes.
The Escalation Layer - Provides interfaces and tools for escalating problems that cannot be resolved through self-healing, generating cross-vendor tickets for collaborative problem solving, supports real-time, audited and problem-associated chat between organizations and tracking of problems through problem resolution whether simple customer education or software/firmware update.
To learn about each of the layers, simply click on the preambles to each of the above paragraphs.