Programming the Industrial Internet of Things is getting interesting. After the Opto 22 news on REST and Node_RED along with the Inductive Automation conversation on using MQTT middleware and Sparkplug for data description, I’ve dived into these technologies.
These things are all standards and widely used. Some have been around for a little while. I’ve got to say that Node_RED is really cool. And as open source, it has a fantastic library of functions.
So, my next question is, “How are these used?”
And mainly I am comparing to OPC UA.
I have been in conversation with several people from the OPC Foundation. They told me, “OPC UA is about multivendor secure reliable interoperability for data and information integration from the embedded world to the cloud. It’s more than just a communication protocol for moving data between points a and b.”
Granted, OPC UA is based upon XML technology, not JSON. It is XMPP. There were probably many good reasons for using this at the time the specification for OPC UA was being designed. For one thing, it is secure. Build in. And security is a major point of discussion when you talk with OPC people.
But, let’s talk about the multivendor and interoperability issues. When data is described in OPC UA, any other OPC UA device knows what is in the information packet. That is a power that many vendors–but especially end users–were searching for. Interoperability is the method that many industries have used for growth and innovation. Think railroads or cargo containers, for example.
So, even though REST, Node_RED, JSON, MQTT, and Sparkplug are all in themselves open, I throw the ball back into their court.
Is the principal use of these technologies for tying proprietary applications and devices together so as to lock out competition? To what degree is there an industry movement to describe devices and information in an industry-wide manner such that an interoperability of devices may be obtained?
I suppose there is a side note that I hear from some quarters about using open technologies, but using them in such a way that a customer is locked into one system integrator. Although this does not look so complex as to lock a customer in, it’s a question I need to ask.
I guess as the ad says, “Inquiring minds want to know.”