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Could CoAP be the future for EtherNet/IP devices?

by HMS Staff Writer | Jun 01, 2017

This blog was taken from the whitepaper, "Resource-constrained Industrial Things- Proposal for the Adaptation of CoAP to EtherNet/IP", presented at the ODVA 2017 Industry Conference by Bjorn Otterdahl and Jonas Green from HMS.

The Internet of Things is all about connecting devices. With millions of devices to be connected in the coming years, the Internet of Things has encouraged the development of new technologies.

These new technologies are specifically looking at ways to target resource constrained devices. The Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) is a protocol that can reduce the communication overhead and achieve low complexity without compromising the reliability of the network for certain use cases.  


What is a constrained device? 

A constrained device is a device that has low processing power, limited memory footprint and sometimes running on batteries. The majority of devices that are being connected both in the consumer and industrial sectors are expected to be constrained in terms of power capacity, memory and CPU.  Constrained devices have resource restrictions that may have a limited set of functionalities.  

What is CoAP? 

The Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP) is a newly developed protocol targeting IoT devices found between the UDP layer and the application layer. CoAP is designed for constrained devices with low CPU and memory resources and has been designed with security in mind. 

Example setup

EtherNet/IP to CoAP example

An EtherNet/IP to CoAP gateway device translates standard EtherNet/IP to EtherNetp/IP over CoAP. This type of gateway enables retrofitting of EtherNet/IP over CoAP adapters into a regular EtherNet/IP network. A standard CoAP client implementation can be used from either inside the OT network or from the IT network via a Gateway or Router. 

Why Consider CoAP?

The major benefit of CoAP would be that simple EtherNet/IP adapters could be built much cheaper due to lower CPU processing power requirements and lower memory footprint. It would also make the adapters reachable from a standard CoAP client in the enterprise network. CoAP is a protocol designed for devices with low CPU and memory resources and has been designed with security in mind. 

To read the full whitepaper presented at the ODVA 2017 Industry Conference & 18th Annual Meeting titled, "Resource-constrained Industrial Things - Proposal for the Adaptation of CoAP to EtherNet/IP" written by Jonas Green and Bjorn Otterdahl from HMS Industrial Networks AB, visit: http://www.iebmedia.com/IEBDigital/0517IEB100/pubData/mobile/index.htm#/36/ 

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