The Industry of Things World USA conference in San Diego in its third year is becoming a premier Internet of Things (IoT) event in the US. Organized by weConnect in Berlin, Germany, it attracts a few hundred attendees, excellent speakers, and me (of course). The organizers leverage worldwide contacts–organizing similar events in Berlin and Singapore. They also have similar events in other technology areas.

Topics cover a range of IT and OT subjects. I make sure to get to the OT people who are here. This is a quick recap of what I’ve seen so far.

Charlie Gifford spoke at a breakout session on ISA95. He updated us on the latest changes proposed to the standard. His other focus was to promote event-driven architecture. He suggested that we build a library of operations events such that when an event occurs information about the change with the updated data is broadcast to subscribers. This is a great bandwidth saving over continuous point-to-point connections. He is also concerned with how to interconnect the many existing databases within a plant or production location.

Jagannath Rao, SVP of IoT and MindSphere for Siemens, discussed the evolution of MindSphere and its latest incarnation. Key point–Siemens has committed to openness–providing for open APIs especially in its MindSphere platform and adoption of open technologies such as OPC UA.

MindSphere v 2 enabled people to go out and do Proof of Concept (PoC) projects. From these Siemens could determine what customers were interested in and what the problems were that they were trying to solve. This all fed back into the product development process leading to the recent release of v 3.

V3, now a product, builds on open technologies–open being the key word. The platform moved from SAP Leonardo to Amazon Web Services (AWS) providing a more robust cloud experience. AWS is a Infrastructure as a Service, while MindSphere is Platform as a Service containing open APIs and data models. The next step on the journey is for Siemens to build out an ecosystem of 3rd party applications.

When asked about TSN, Rao also brought up 5G, both of which point out the importance of the Edge for initial processing of IoT data. Siemens is preparing for this next step, for example its Sinumeric Edge contains much analytics power, then ability to communicate information not just vast streams of data.

OPC vice president of marketing Stefan Hoppe, during his breakout session, discussed the acceptance of OPC UA in industry and the power of the release of publish/subscribe with OPC UA. His strong discussion point was to emphasize that OPC UA is not a protocol. It is an information model. It uses protocols—AMQP, MQTT, DDS, JavaScript, whatever to communicate the information from one device to another (or many). Proponents of a protocol who suggest that a protocol is superior to OPC UA miss the point that it’s not a protocol but actually an information model.

One key potential misunderstanding…Hoppe’s presentation made OPC appear to be German-centric and tied to the German Industrie 4.0. We need to keep in mind that the OPC Foundation Board is only 33% German, and that OPC UA lends itself to the digitalization efforts of any of the countries developing standards. It has become the official communication technology for many standardization efforts including the Open Process Automation Forum. It is truly global.

Lin Nease, IoT technologist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, chatted with me at a one-on-one meeting about the edge and the power of Xeon server technology in its edge devices as well as software-defined control. I think I’ll be seeing more from HPE as it builds out its IoT infrastructure.

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