Software Platform for Open Control Systems Emphasizing IoT

The latest attempt at building an open control platform is driven by ExxonMobil and given some support by the ARC Advisory Group by offering a venue for meetings. I wrote about the meeting during the ARC Forum in Orlando.  What I find most interesting is linking this to the Internet of Things.

It will be interesting to see where this leads. I’ve seen attempts in the past to try to get suppliers to ditch their computing or control platforms to go with a generic open system where end users could drive pricing down to commodity levels. Of course, such a system would require lots of engineering—a boon to systems integrators.

Although the dream of complete plug-and-play requiring no integration is a problem waiting a solution. We’ve seen this scenario play out in the computer business. The result was locked down hardware with a measure of interoperability of systems. I think that this is where standards are most valuable.

WindRiver has cast its lot with the ExxonMobil-led Open Process Control initiative and has announced a product in support of the effort. It has announced availability of a software virtualization platform enabling critical infrastructure companies to cost-effectively evolve aging legacy control systems not previously designed to support the connected nature of IoT. Wind River Titanium Control empowers the next generation of on-premise analytics to optimize industrial processes.

“ARC believes the influx of new IIoT technologies now entering the automation market has the potential to be a major disruption to existing business models that have been relatively stable for decades,” said Harry Forbes, research director at ARC Advisory Group, a leading technology research firm for industry and infrastructure. “An excellent example is Titanium Control, which combines Wind River’s long experience in real-time operating systems with on-premise cloud computing technology. This combination enables the virtualization of real-time automation applications that until recently could only be implemented in embedded systems hardware. The implications of this capability for the manufacturing automation market are very far-reaching, and automation suppliers are noticing.”

Because traditional industrial control systems were not designed to support IoT, most are rigid, single purpose, and have a high cost to deploy, integrate, and maintain. Additionally, the obsolescence cycle is driving system updates that require new systems to keep pace with innovation while maintaining or lowering capital costs.

Titanium Control is a commercially deployable on-premise cloud infrastructure that virtualizes traditional physical subsystems using a platform based on open standards. It delivers the high performance, high availability, flexibility, and low latency needed to reduce capital and operating expenses, as well as minimize unscheduled downtime for industrial applications and control services at any scale. Unlike enterprise IT virtualization platforms, it provides high reliability for applications and services deployed at the network edge, for example in fog deployments.

Key features of Titanium Control include:

  • De facto standard open source software for on-premise cloud and virtualization, including Linux, real-time Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) and OpenStack
  • High performance and high availability with accelerated vSwitch and inter-VM communication, plus virtual infrastructure management
  • Security features including isolation, secure boot and Trusted Platform Module enabled through Enhanced Platform Awareness
  • Scalability from two to over 100 compute nodes
  • Hitless software updates and patching with no interruption to services or applications

“With the emergence of Industrial IoT, companies are looking to deploy next-generation open and secure control systems; Titanium Control addresses this need, and is in active trials with customers in industries ranging from manufacturing to energy to healthcare,” said Jim Douglas, president of Wind River. “Our software has been providing these companies with powerful ways to increase efficiency and bolster safety, security, and reliability for the last 35 years. With the addition of Titanium Control to our product portfolio, Wind River is driving a new industrial era through virtualization, real-time performance and edge-to-cloud connectivity.”

Titanium Control is part of the Wind River Titanium Cloud portfolio of virtualization products for the deployment of critical services from operations to data center environments that require real-time performance and continuous service availability. It is optimized for Intel Xeon processors, and is pre-validated on hardware from the leading providers of Intel-based servers.

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