Complexity Kills Agility: Why the German Reference Architecture Model for Industry 4.0 Will Fail

The German ZVEI (Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektroindustrie), the association of the electrical and electronic industries, and the VDI (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure), the association of German engineers, has published a concept called RAMI (Referenzarchitekturmodell Industrie 4.0). This reference architecture model has a length of about 25 pages, which is OK. The first target listed for RAMI 4.0 is “providing a clear and simple architecture model as reference”.

However, when analyzing the model, there is little clearness and simplicity in it. The model is full of links to other norms and standards. It is full of multi-layer, sometimes three-dimensional architecture models. On the other hand, the model doesn’t provide answers on details, and only a few links to other documents.

RAMI 4.0 e.g. says that the minimal infrastructure of Industry 4.0 must fulfill the principles of Security-by-Design. There is no doubt that Industry 4.0 should consequently implement the principles of Security-by-Design. Unfortunately, there is not even a link to a description of what Security-by-Design concretely means.

Notably, security (and safety) are covered in a section of the document spanning not even 1% of the entire content. In other words: Security is widely ignored in that reference architecture, in these days of ever-increasing cyber-attacks against connected things.

RAMI 4.0 has three fundamental faults:

  1. It is not really concrete. It lacks details in many areas and doesn’t even provides links to more detailed information.
  2. While only being 25 pages in length and not being very detailed, it is still overly complex, with multi-layered, complex models.
  3. It ignores the fundamental challenges of security and safety.

Hopefully, we will see better concepts soon, that focus on supporting the challenges of agility and security, instead of over-engineering the world of things and Industry 4.0.



KuppingerCole Select

Register now for KuppingerCole Select and get your free 30-day access to a great selection of KuppingerCole research materials and to live trainings.

Stay Connected


How can we help you

Send an inquiry

Call Us +49 211 2370770

Mo – Fr 8:00 – 17:00