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InfluxData expands time series database capabilities

The open source-based InfluxDB platform is adding capabilities to better handle data coming from industrial sensors and devices that enable organizations to optimize operations.

Database platform vendor InfluxData added a series of new capabilities to enable IoT and industrial internet of things applications for the open source InfluxDB time series database.

The new capabilities are generally available today.

InfluxData, based in San Francisco, is the creator and lead commercial sponsor of the InfluxDB open source time series database, as well as a series of complementary projects including the Flux query language and Telegraf metrics agent.

InfluxData provides InfluxDB in open source, enterprise and cloud models. Among the new IoT and industrial IoT features in the platform is the ability to more easily handle data coming from operational technology in industrial settings and IoT sensors via the MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT) protocol.

InfluxData also made it easier for organizations to deploy a smaller footprint time series data agent onto edge devices, to help enable data collection.

In an era in which many databases are going after adjacent markets, InfluxData is investing in its time series specialization, said RedMonk analyst Rachel Stephens.

IoT settings often present unique challenges around the scale, velocity and variety of data inputs, and efficiently handling time series data can be crucial in these environments.
Rachel StephensAnalyst, RedMonk

"IoT settings often present unique challenges around the scale, velocity and variety of data inputs, and efficiently handling time series data can be crucial in these environments," Stephens said. "InfluxData's investments around expanded IoT and edge capabilities are designed to deepen the platform's functionality for the IoT use case."

Enabling more time series data capabilities for InfluxDB

Brian Gilmore, product manager for IoT at InfluxData, said MQTT is becoming the messaging standard for IoT and operational technology.

The MQTT standard was first published in 1999 to help enable a standardized layer of messaging for SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) industrial control systems.

Gilmore noted that InfluxDB has provided some support for MQTT before, though he said it lacked a number of capabilities for scalability and management. Among the capabilities that are now part of the InfluxDB platform is an easier way for users to connect to MQTT message brokers that disseminate sensor and other forms of industrial device data.

Going a step further, InfluxData has updated its Flux scripting language so the InfluxDB platform can output MQTT data as well as consume it to enable users to both collect and update data as needed.

Gilmore said he typically recommends deploying the Telegraf data collection agent at the edge of the network alongside sensors and devices, with the data going back to a centralized InfluxDB database. He noted that Telegraf is now able to format and optimize MQTT data as it is streamed into the InfluxDB time series database.

Screen shot of new InfluxDB features
New InfluxDB time series database features help to improve sensor data integration and analysis

Building out observability with InfluxDB time series data capabilities

Time series data collects a series of data points over a period of time.

For industrial deployments, time series is commonly used for operational applications such as, for example, anomaly detection that can identify if a device is operating outside of normal parameters.

Time series data can also be used to help determine usage and operational trends for a given device or set of devices over a period of time. In recent years, companies have used time series data from industrial devices to help train machine learning models for predictive maintenance.

"People are using InfluxDB to track the performance of oil rigs, manufacturing lines or whatever their assets might be," Gilmore said. "It helps to give operators visibility to make the decisions required to successfully operate and maintain those assets."

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