A couple of OPC items just crossed my inbox. I wrote previously about the Express Interface (Xi) developed mainly by Emerson Process Management (along with other companies) in response to a desire for a scaled down, Microsoft compatible OPC UA migration path and that OPC Foundation was investigating. Well, it’s been approved. Meanwhile, as OPC UA moves from the developer community to general use, training becomes an issue. OPC President Tom Burke addresses this. Details below.

The OPC Foundation Board of Directors voted earlier this month to add Express Interface (Xi) to the OPC Foundation technology portfolio, complementing OPC UA and COM-based OPC Classic technologies. OPC Xi is a new interface based on Microsoft.Net Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) technology. It is specifically designed for secure reliable access to real-time, historical and alarm and event based information.

The OPC Xi interface is the result of collaboration among several OPC vendor companies from the process industry to develop an easily integrated and secure solution for a variety of plant communications. OPC Xi was developed with the primary goal to provide a .Net-based migration path from OPC Classic. OPC Xi may also be used as a standard .Net WCF interface for newly developed OPC servers.

“The OPC Foundation Board of Directors has adopted Express Interface (OPC Xi) as a standard OPC interface. OPC Xi has been designed as a complementary interface that enables both .Net clients and existing COM-based OPC Classic clients to access OPC Classic servers at the same time.  OPC Xi can also be used as a standard OPC interface for newly developed .Net servers,” says Thomas J.  Burke, OPC Foundation President. “The OPC Board of Directors has taken this action in response to feedback from members asking for a backwards compatible .Net interface for OPC Classic servers.”

From Tom’s Blog on training

I have been getting a lot of questions in the last several months from end-users wanting to learn about OPC UA, now that there are some very significant companies developing and shipping OPC UA products. So I started doing some research to find training targeted towards end-users. Most of the training being offered by OPC and the OPC vendors was geared towards vendors (specifically developers). Other companies offer training as part of their product training. The requests I was getting was from end-users looking for OPC UA vendor neutral training. Then I came across OPCTI having added OPC UA to their portfolio of training classes, so decided to dive in to see what they are offering.

The OPC Training Institute recently announced their OPC UA training course. This is the only course I found that targets end-users and integrators. I have had the opportunity to work with principals of the company for quite a while.

The hands-on class covers all OPC UA specifications, performance and benchmarking tests, the companies who provide OPC UA products, as well as the new security model that improve Classic OPC capabilities. Along the way, attendees explore OPC UA’s new data information model and how it enriches access to industrial records. They also get to inspect the new data transportation model that uses Web Services and binary protocols to eliminate reliance on Microsoft’s DCOM technology. Through numerous hands-on exercises, students gain the necessary knowledge to provide solution architectures and handle OPC UA integration on their own.

The courses are executed around the world, so I encourage you to check out their website and take a look at their list of training locations.

If you are a vendor building an OPC UA product, make sure you get your product to OPCTI for them to use as part of the hands on training.

If you are an end-user or system integrator register and attend one of their OPC UA training classes and learn what OPC UA can do for you.

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