It’s the classic Industrial IoT problem – a 40-plant network of old-school manufacturing and production lines, run digitally by 9,000 outdated programmable logic controllers running on legacy Windows industrial PCs, was having difficulty in minimizing downtime.

According to fog computing and automation startup Nebbiolo Technologies – which declined to name the client directly, saying only that it’s a “global” company – the failure of one of those Windows IPCs could result in up to six hours of downtime for said client. They wanted that time cut down to minutes.

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It’s a tricky issue. If those 9,000 machines were all in a data center, you could simply virtualize the whole thing and call it a day, according to Nebbiolo’s vice president of product management, Hugo Vliegen. But it's a heterogeneous environment, with the aging computers running critical control applications for the production lines – their connections to the equipment can't simply be abstracted into the cloud or a data center.

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