I had been talking Open Source with Bill Lydon, who, like me, has been around many places in manufacturing and media in his career most recently as editor of InTech. He referred me to an article he wrote on automation.com.
This release actually points to two important technologies that will combine to improve management’s ability to operate a more profitable and efficient plant. One is the open source. The other is DataOps. I had begun hearing about that from IT companies and was just beginning to wonder about applications specifically to industry when I was approached by John Harrington, one of the founders, with the initial story of HighByte.
On to the actual news:
HighByte announced the release of HighByte Intelligence Hub version 1.2. The release expands the software’s support for open standards and open platforms, including MQTT, Sparkplug, and OpenJDK. Open standards and platforms simplify industrial data integrations and accelerate the time-to-value for Industry 4.0 solutions.
“The MQTT Sparkplug specification is critical to ensuring information interoperability and governance in the plant and throughout the enterprise,” said HighByte CEO Tony Paine. “By deploying HighByte Intelligence Hub with Sparkplug support, our customers are able to standardize and streamline their data infrastructures from factory to cloud.”
HighByte Intelligence Hub is the first DataOps solution purpose-built for industrial environments. DataOps is a new approach to data integration and security that aims to improve data quality, reduce time spent preparing data for analysis, and encourage cross-functional collaboration within data-driven organizations.
In addition to MQTT Sparkplug and Open JDK support, HighByte Intelligence Hub version 1.2 includes model and instance categorization, enhanced security, and more flexible presentation of information models and output formats.
The software is available as an annual subscription and is priced per instance or per site. highbyte.com
From The HighByte Blog
The future of Industry 4.0 is open: open standards, open platforms, and open thinking. In today’s ecosystem, realizing the full potential of Industry 4.0 requires a mesh of products working together to fulfill each layer of the technology stack. Open standards and platforms simplify these integrations and speed up the time-to-value for Industry 4.0 solutions.
Open Standards. This release adds Sparkplug support over MQTT. Sparkplug is an open standard built on top of MQTT that defines the message format for Sparkplug-enabled applications. Many industrial sensors and systems have adopted the Sparkplug specification with MQTT as a means of integrating systems due to Sparkplug’s prescriptive topic namespace, payload definition, and state management. Using Sparkplug, customers can instantly consume and publish data models to and from other Sparkplug-enabled systems.
Open Platform. This release also supports OpenJDK v14, a free and open-source implementation of Java, extending the reach of HighByte Intelligence Hub to any OpenJDK-enabled platform. OpenJDK support for the underlying JAVA virtual machine ensures the longevity of the solution and reduces the cost of ownership of the solution for our customers.
HighByte Intelligence Hub version 1.2 offers the following new features:
- Enhanced security. Securely connect and configure HighByte Intelligence Hub using HTTPS.
- More flexible output formats. JSON output can now be further customized, allowing users to flatten or expand the hierarchy. Flexible presentation of information models is essential when supporting multiple use cases and target applications. While MQTT is becoming the de facto protocol for IoT data and many applications support it, each application has nuances in how they expect JSON to be structured. Applications and data storage engines also have unique needs regarding update frequency and how much information is included in the update. Flexible presentation of information models addresses these interoperability challenges.
- Publish only data that changes. Enable a flow to only publish model data that has changed, reducing the amount of data sent to applications.
- Easily organize models and instances. Models and model instances can now be organized into categories, making it easier to manage hundreds or thousands of models across your enterprise. The organization of models and instances is critical as companies scale the size of their deployments.
Tony Paine Blog Post
Communication within a start-up is pretty straightforward. If you have a question about a new product launch, you go directly to the owner or CEO. Problems with a design flaw? Talk to your lead engineer. As that business scales, your lines of communication become more complex. You may need to send information through multiple channels to get an answer. Without an easy way to send or retrieve information, it might get lost or misinterpreted or you may wait days for an answer. Anyone who has worked in that environment knows the inherent challenges.
Similarly, when organizations implement new industrial IoT solutions, they may work fine at first but become less effective as the project or company scales. The more capabilities you add, the more connections you create throughout your data systems.
For example, today you might need one or two pieces of production data, such as downtime or line speed, from a machine that feeds information into a business intelligence system and an analytics software package from different vendors. As your organization grows, accessing this information becomes more complex because you now have thousands of connection points. Each time you add an application to the system, you need to build connections between the new software and the other systems with which it must communicate. This dramatically increases integration costs and slows deployments.
To scale your industrial IoT implementation, you need a unified namespace. A unified namespace is a software solution that acts as a centralized repository of data, information, and context where any application or device can consume or publish data needed for a specific action. Without a centralized data repository, it could take months to deploy a new analytics application across the entire enterprise versus hours with a unified namespace.
For nearly two decades, MQTT has served as an effective messaging protocol that allows any program or device to publish data but doesn’t offer interoperability between third-party devices and applications. Technology companies have brought data interoperability to MQTT devices and applications through the development of the Sparkplug specification.
At HighByte, we view our unified namespace as a middleware solution that allows users to collect data from various sources, add context so there’s meaning to it, and transform it to a format that other systems can understand. That is why we are adding support for Sparkplug in the upcoming October release of HighByte Intelligence Hub.
This is where you begin to unlock the real value of machine learning because you now have the connectivity you need to optimize your systems, devices, and processes in real time and scale your IoT capabilities without costly, time-consuming implementations.