I’m tackling Internet of Things Edge computing in the first of many posts as I finally have some time to gather my notes and thoughts after an intense four days in Orlando at the ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum.
Announced during the Monday press conferences and later at a special breakfast presentation, Inductive Automation announced a series of products designed to take more power to the edge of the network. Certainly much work has been done regarding computing at the edge for the past couple of years.
So, Inductive Automation announced a March release for a line of products built on an embedded version of Ignition—Ignition Edge. Inductive Automation was recently in the news with an announcement that growth has been so good that it bought a building to house its growing workforce.
Ignition Edge by Inductive Automation is a line of lightweight, low-cost Ignition products to be embedded into field and OEM devices at the edge of the network. Ignition is designed to work on central servers and deploy to multiple clients, while Ignition Edge products can be installed on devices at the edge. With Ignition and Ignition Edge together, organizations can build scalable and affordable enterprise-wide systems.
“To truly have IIoT, industrial organizations need a new architecture,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “A big part of that involves collecting data near the source, at the edge of the network. It means polling as close to the devices as possible, rather than from the SCADA system. Ignition Edge is a very affordable way to get data from the edge and into a database so it can be leveraged for analysis and better decision-making.”
One of the products features embedded MQTT protocol. Cirrus Link Solutions is based in Kansas City, Kan. Arlen Nipper, president of Cirrus Link, is a co-inventor of Message Queueing Telemetry Transport (MQTT). MQTT is a lightweight pub/sub messaging transport that’s perfectly suited to the IIoT. MQTT provides fast, bi-directional communication in a very simple manner, so it requires minimal network bandwidth.
Nipper co-invented MQTT with Andy Stanford Clark of IBM specifically for real-time, mission-critical SCADA systems. Ignition Edge capitalizes on MQTT for more efficient, easier access to data. “Having the power of Ignition extend down to edge devices in the field offers a disruptive approach to how industrial network infrastructures are designed, deployed, and managed,” said Nipper.
Ignition Edge Panel enables creation of local HMIs for field devices. It enables edge-of-network HMI functionality with robust Ignition features, including one local client, one remote web client for mobile access, and alarming features including email notification. It includes one week of data buffering for trending and local client fallback for mission-critical applications.
Ignition Edge Enterprise acts as an Agent Gateway in a multi-Gateway Ignition system by leveraging the Ignition Enterprise Administration Module (EAM). So it requires that the EAM be installed on the central Ignition Gateway. It’s got powerful features such as remote backup, restoration management, centralized monitoring of performance and health metrics, and remote alarm notification. Edge Enterprise comes with up to a week of data buffering, and it can synchronize local tag history to a central Ignition historian for store-and-forward.
Ignition Edge MQTT by Cirrus Link was developed by Cirrus Link Solutions, a strategic partner of Inductive Automation. Ignition Edge MQTT enables publication of field device data through MQTT. It turns virtually any field device, such as a touch panel or a client terminal, into a lightweight, MQTT-enabled edge gateway. Ignition Edge MQTT uses MQTT to transmit data to any MQTT broker and supports the Sparkplug data-encoding specification.