Microsoft Makes Huge Investment In OPC Open Source Code

Microsoft Makes Huge Investment In OPC Open Source Code

OPC UA was everywhere in the Digital Factory and automation areas of Hannover Fair 2017.  Not only was the expanded OPC Foundation stand busy, an “OPC Wall” at the Microsoft stand was constantly packed. Microsoft executives took attendees on a digital path using OPC UA from the factory to the Azure cloud.

Spokespeople pointed out that OPC UA was crucial to a solution that was open, secure, and agnostic. While waiting for the finalization of OPC UA pub/sub (publish / subscribe), they wrote a transport in JSON and AMQP to get there.

The OPC Foundation announced an open-source implementation of the OPC UA technology, available on GitHub to truly enable the OPC community successful adoption of OPC UA across all markets and all platforms.

Microsoft contributed a huge amount of lines of code to this open source effort.

OPC UA is the set of standards for multivendor multiplatform secure reliable interoperability for moving /information from the embedded world to the cloud.   The testimonial to the standards is a complete reference implementation that is now been posted as an open-source implementation, replacing the original OPC Foundation .NET deliverables that were developed and maintained for the last 10 years.

The original OPC Foundation .NET OPC UA reference implementation has been available to OPC Foundation members and last year was provided as an open-source implementation on GitHub. This version was targeted and limited to Microsoft Windows only.

The new OPC Foundation reference stack, based on the new .NET Standard Library technology, was developed and optimized by Microsoft to serve as the complete platform-independent infrastructure, from the embedded world to the cloud. This new version is enabled on the following supported platforms: Various Linux distributions, iOS, Android, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Phone, HoloLens and the Azure cloud.

One of the important features of the .Net Standard stack is the expansion of the security features to meet the needs of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications, as well as the requirements of “Plattform Industrie 4.0”.

Additional benefits of the OPC UA .Net Standard Stack include:

  • The .Net Standard stack is cross platform specifically enabling OPC UA applications.
  • The .Net Standard API portability strategy is all about developing once and running everywhere: No need to special-case OS-specific functionality.
  • The architecture of the .Net Standard stack focuses on managed code, which translates to rapid application development.
  • Microsoft deliberately enabled the creation of NuGet packages, which allows suppliers to quickly integrate OPC UA support into their application with a few simple clicks.
  • The .Net Standard stack includes increased security inclusive of support for SHA512.
  • The .Net Standard stack enable support for cross-platform UI design tools through Xamarin.
  • Microsoft has provided, in conjunction with the OPC Foundation, an extremely rich set of sample applications, inclusive of reference clients, reference servers, an aggregation server, an OPC classic wrapper and a web application to quickly display OPC UA telemetry data sent to the cloud.
  • Microsoft has also provided, in conjunction with the OPC Foundation complete samples demonstrating Azure connectivity leveraging the OPC UA publish/subscribe technology (the specification of which is currently being finalized).

Microsoft’s Sam George, Director of Microsoft Azure IoT said “OPC UA has truly established itself as the interoperability standard for Industrial IoT. We are honored to work with the OPC Foundation on the continued evolution of the standard. The response from the Industrial IoT community to our .Net Standard reference stack contribution has been very positive.”

OPC Foundation’s President Thomas J. Burke said, “The Microsoft commitment to open standards, and specifically to the OPC Foundation is absolutely amazing. Microsoft is clearly a pioneer and a leader in developing and bringing to market the best technology that truly enables multivendor information integration and interoperability. It has been a pleasure to work with the Microsoft development team, and how they are enabling so many of the suppliers to have seamless connectivity to the Azure cloud, through their development and commitment providing an open-source implementation of the OPC UA technology”.

Stefan Hoppe, OPC Foundation’s Vice President said, “Microsoft is the strongest open-source contributor to the OPC Foundation’s industrial interoperability standard, OPC UA. Microsoft’s integration of the OPC UA code with Microsoft Azure IoT as well as Windows IoT allows companies to bring millions of devices and apps to the public cloud and manage them with one single application, no matter if the devices run on Windows, Linux, iOS or Android. Using this OPC UA implementation, IT and Manufacturing will merge seamlessly”.

Siemens’ Thomas Hahn said: “As a founding member, Siemens has supported the OPC Foundation for years. For us, open connectivity – from shop floor to the cloud – is a must. We therefore appreciate the availability of OPC UA technology as open source!”

The OPC Foundation will continue to develop, maintain and extend this new .NET technology as the new OPC Foundation endorsed open-source .NET reference implementation. Some of these significant new features to be added include the publish/subscribe extensions as well as support for important IoT protocols like AMQP and MQTT.

Hannover Messe Was All About Internet of Things Platforms

Hannover Messe Was All About Internet of Things Platforms

Internet of Things platforms were all over Hannover Fair last week as I put on more than five miles a day walking checking out as much as I could see.

A few years ago, Industrie 4.0 was unveiled. Last year it was Digitalization. This year Industry 4.o is assumed. Internet of Things is assumed. The race is on for the platform for Internet of Things this year.

One consistent technology, though, that almost all platforms tout–OPC UA. You saw that logo everywhere. [Note: OPC Foundation paid most of my expenses to attend.]

What do I mean by platform? It is the central technology by which everything connects. Most of the time it is what we call proprietary, that is, controlled by one company. It builds a database with connectors to the world. All protocols (they encourage everyone to participate in their own system) bring in data. Sometimes the provider does all the analysis and provides all the applications. Sometimes the provider allows connection to other apps, as well.

I’ve written about the Dell / Linux Foundation effort–after I got through the hype and found the meat. This effort is all open source allowing tie ins with individual company applications.

Microsoft also has an ecosystem or platform that is open with some open source. It relies heavily on OPC UA for data input. Microsoft has its Internet of Things applications but can allow connection to others.

Siemens has its platform called Mindsphere. Siemens is a major proponent of OPC UA.

GE Digital has Predix. It likes OPC UA, too.

SAP is building a platform entirely within its umbrella but encouraging other companies to join it and allows the other apps to run. It also employs OPC UA.

A company I just got a deep dive with for the first time is Exosite. It is a database/analytics developer. At present it is not as broad as the others, but it has the desire to grow to that status.

And then there is Cisco. Yes, the company that builds the network components and OS that control the flow of all your data. Since they know where your data is, it can tap into it and it also has an IoT platform, database, and analytics engine.

By comparison, Rockwell Automation’s Connected Enterprise is totally inbred to Rockwell. I’m sure that in places such as North America where it has huge market share the connectivity works well. It will use some OPC UA next year, so a spokesman told me.

If this is any indication, the Internet of Things has become a “real” thing. Many of these platforms more or less existed before. But Internet of Things adoption obviously is attracting such good things as competition and innovation.

More from Hannover the rest of the week. I’m still compiling notes.

Augmented Reality and Internet of Things Meet In Hannover

Augmented Reality and Internet of Things Meet In Hannover

Let’s talk augmented reality and Internet of Things (IoT) today.

The first day of Hannover Fair began with much buzz about the Dell / Linux Foundation announcement (see yesterday’s post) about the open source “unify the IoT” project. But that buzz died off after people digested the news and determined that for the time being it was not going to disrupt the industrial world.

I have only a little time between appointments today, so I’ll do a quick recap of some highlights.

OPC Foundation has brought me along to investigate and write about what’s happening with OPC UA and especially with Time Sensitive Networks (TSN).  This will not be easy–I see the OPC Foundation logo everywhere. More on this later.

I devoted much time to the Microsoft stand yesterday and again already today.  It had the “OPC wall” showing a number of products serving OPC data. Microsoft’s play is moving OPC UA to the Azure cloud. It also showed integration with Time Series Insights, a real-time data base. It also has an IoT suite and recently added IoT Central which is an SaaS application that walks customers through the process of setting up analysis and visualization of the operations data through the OPC UA connection to Azure.

Microsoft had many partners showing authentic working applications of its Hololense augmented reality product–mostly for the enhancement of service technicians including TetraPak and Thyssen Krupp among others.

SAP took me for a walk around its IoT wall. It is building a system where, if all other suppliers opt in and put all their documentation and data into the SAP cloud, then it can serve up a variety of operations and predictive information to operators and maintenance.

ABB announced a partnership with IBM Watson to help customers improve productivity.

Parker has brought all of its products into a network uniquely called Voice of the Machine–an interesting take on IoT.

There’s more, but I’m late for another appointment.

Dell IoT Think Tank At Hannover Sees Bright Future

Dell IoT Think Tank At Hannover Sees Bright Future

Gary at Dell IoT Hannover         On Tuesday April 26 of the Hannover Fair, Dell and Intel gathered thought leaders from about ten partners into a “Think Tank.” We met in a conference room in the middle of the FairGrounds and discussed the Internet of Things for a solid two hours. It was my privilege to moderate the session.

Present IoT situation is robust

Was IoT relevant to each company or organization repimage002resented? As each person introduced himself and his company, it was clear that every company was deep into understanding what IoT meant for their business and for their customers. Or, as I stated, “I guess we can’t generate any debate on whether IoT is relevant, so we can move on to co26090873593_05918f2a06_znsidering why anyone cares about IoT in manufacturing business.”

You can tell by some of the pictures that even though most of us were wearing conservative dark jackets each was passionate about the impact of IoT in our business. As we discussed the business drivers, we began with how connectivity enables this entire area. New database technologies were discussed.

The consensus of opinions focused on how IoT is a disruptive element in today’s manufacturing climate. Several noted that we can now build new models of doing business. The people in the room were each in their own domain working on models that disrupt what they’ve been doing and pointing tow26090872753_0f5f5c54a0_zard new benefits for customers.

Organizational IT Challenges remain

But all is not sanguine in IoT land. Customers are confused about what the Internet of Things is. There are so many names and it comes in so many flavors that customers are beyond trying to figure it out on their own. Members of the panel agreed that it is incumbent upon them and their companies to be able to articulate the Internet of Things clearly and coherently to the market.

The problem of bringing the IT group and the OT group together into some form of meaningful collaboration, and even resp26668278906_78380425b6_zect, has been discussed for probably 20 years. Yet, this predominantly European group identified IT/OT convergence and the need for collaboration as a key challenge facing IoT implementation. This group of technology suppliers and integrators acknowledged that in26090873683_2784b0e557_z many of their customer’s sites, their meetings often are the first that bring the two groups together in the same room discussing a common problem.  More of the same is needed.

Customers and suppliers face the challenge of identifying opportunities where IoT will be a benefit to operations and business. This will require collaboration among many partners and groups.

The challenge “elephant in the room” was security. The topic was brought up gingerly, and no solutions were proposed other than security measures already in place. In other words, we probably need to continue to work on this topic.

Not unlike implementing other manufacturing IT projects, panelists noted the need for customers to rationalize their operations and understand architectures before beginning a comprehensive IoT strategy.

IoT in the future

What about the future of IoT and manufacturing? Some threw out ideas such as wearables and augmented reality (AR). I’ve been enchanted with the Silicon Valley use of bots—from Siri and Cortana to notifications. Panelists jumped all over the idea of bots. This technology is seen as the hot thing for the near-term future.


Dr. Valentijn De Leeuw, Vice President and analyst  at the ARC Advisory Group, brought up an initiative in the European Union—Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation.

“The Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) was initiated by the European Commission in order to develop and support the dialogue and interaction among the Internet of Things (IoT) various players in Europe. The overall goal of the AlOTI is the creation of a dynamic European IoT ecosystem to unleash the potentials of the IoT. This ecosystem is going to build on the work of the IoT Research Cluster (IERC) and spill over innovation across industries and business sectors of IoT transforming ideas into solutions and business models. The Alliance will also assist the European Commission in the preparation of future IoT research as well as innovation and standardisation policies.”

The US government, by the way, under the Obama administration has begun a few organizations working on digital manufacturing and smart manufacturing. I haven’t seen an equivalent of this one. Please point one to me if you know it.

Dell / Partner Ecosystem

Dell holds these think tanks in a number of areas to foster networking and collaboration among its various partners. I’m sure some companies do something similar behind closed doors. Dell records theirs for public consumption, also.

From the Dell point of view one of the main take aways identified was the need to collaborate across a partner ecosystem of vendors and service providers to address customers’ appetite for more efficient and higher quality solutions. Customer centricity and customization of solutions was another point that received general agreement. The group also identified data utilization, edge analytics, standardization and workforce changes as opportunities for collaboration within the full ecosystem of IoT solutions partners.

The future is alre26695060105_c4f620f204_zady here.  As this market continues to evolve, staying on top of collaboration opportunities for advancements in IIoT, smart manufacturing and industry 4.0 and collaboration is key. The group agreed that better analytics will provide greater visibility to new revenue streams.

One last comment of mine regarding edge analytics. There was often an unstated assumption about the value Dell brings to the table with its IoT solutions. Not only is the IoT Gateway an adaptation of its PC technology, but Dell also brings such extras as embedded analytics and applications not to mention bringing to larger partners its global service and support network.

Participants include representatives from: · Azeti · Dell · Intel · Knapp · Kepware Microsoft · MPDV Mikrolab · OSIsoft · Relayr · SAP · The Manufacturing Connection, Gary Mintchell (MODERATOR)

Several of the participants recorded interviews. I’ve linked to several here.

Here are summaries:

Ole Borgbjerg, Kepware, “IT and OT have different roles and agendas, get inside that and talk to both, we are getting more IT experience, we are company working on factory floor, but need to take benefit of devices on the edge. It will take some time to take off. curious but holding back but will take off.”

Oliver Niedung, Microsoft, “We operate in all areas of the integration, hybrid solutions, devices/software, cloud subsystems. Dell is a valued partner.”

Joseph Brunner, Relayr, “There exists a skills gap. We need to make abusiness case (save money or make money). We need hardware providers to unleash data, middleware company like us to mix and send up to business. It’s an infrastructure sale, and a strategic decision changing the way companies do business.”

Tim Kaufman, SAP, “Importance is in getting end-to-end data. There are configuration issues, we need more plug-and-play. Potential exists in the horizontal supply chain including track and trace.”

Dirk Sommerfeld, Azeti, “Need to bring many different companies together for project. We found out that many companies are working on IoT from many different directions.”

ODVA Elects Leaders, Learns About Smart Factory

ODVA Elects Leaders, Learns About Smart Factory

ODVA, the organization that develops and promotes networking protocols such as DeviceNet and EtherNet/IP, recently held its 17th Meeting.

ODVA’s Board of Directors for its 18th term are:

  • Rolf Birkhofer, managing director for process solutions at Endress+Hauser,
  • Thomas Bürger, vice president of engineering automation systems at Bosch Rexroth,
  • Michael Höing, executive vice-president of cross divisional functions at Weidmüller Interface,
  • Fabrice Jadot, senior vice-president for innovation and technology and CTO for the industry business of Schneider Electric,
  • Tony Shakib, vice president of business development for the Internet of Things Business Development at Cisco Systems,
  • Masaru Takeuchi, general manager of controller business and automation systems for industrial automation business at Omron, and
  • Jürgen Weinhofer, vice-president for common architecture and technology for Rockwell Automation.

Officers for the 18th term are:

  • Katherine Voss, president & executive director.
  • Joakim Wiberg, chief technology officer,
  • Christopher Lynch, secretary, and
  • Jürgen Weinhofer, treasurer.


ODVA’s Technical Review Board (TRB) are Mr. Rudy Belliardi of Schneider Electric, Mr. Paul Didier of Cisco Systems, Dr. Jörg Hähniche of Endress+Hauser, Dr. Ludwig Leurs of Bosch Rexroth, Mr. Shinji Murayama of Omron, Mr. Eric Scott of Molex, Mr. Dave VanGompel of Rockwell Automation, and Mr. Joakim Wiberg of HMS Industrial Networks. As ODVA’s chief technology officer, Joakim Wiberg will be the TRB chairperson.

Smart Factory

In a keynote speech given by Prof. Dr.-Ing Detlef Zühlke, executive chairman of SmartFactory, he announced that the 2016 SmartFactory Demonstrator will include a proof of concept implementation of ODVA’s machine data model. The proof of concept will be supported by ODVA principal member Bosch Rexroth, which is also an executive member of SmartFactory.

ODVA’s machine data model is a result of ODVA’s initiative for the Optimization of Machine Integration (OMI) which was first announced in 2011 in cooperation with Sercos International and the OPC Foundation.

The OMI initiative is focused on techniques to optimize the integration of manufacturing machinery with the industrial ecosystem. One of the key machine integration problems that OMI seeks to solve is the streamlining and standardization of heterogeneous communication interfaces, such as CIP and Sercos, in order to enable standard reporting methods and tools across machines and thus aid in the management of machines and the monitoring of their states.

To investigate and develop standards in this area, ODVA established a Special Interest Group (SIG) for Machinery Information with participants from ODVA principal members Bosch Rexroth, Rockwell Automation, and Schneider Electric along with invited experts from OPC Foundation and Sercos International. The SIG has now completed its first phase of work to define a standard approach to machine data models which will then be mapped to the structures in CIP, OPC-UA, and Sercos. The 2016 SmartFactory production cell sponsored by Bosch Rexroth will illustrate the benefits of this approach.

“The concepts and standards being developed as a result of ODVA’s initiative for the Optimization of Machine Integration are well aligned with the goals of the SmartFactory,” said Prof. Dr.-Ing Detlef Zühlke, executive chairman of the Technology-Initiative SmartFactory KL e.V. “The concepts for ODVA’s machine data model will be a welcome addition to the SmartFactory demonstrator in 2016.”

“Certain types of data are typical to machine-to-supervisory communication. This data can be placed into logical groupings such as base machine context, conditioning monitoring, energy, safety, machine diagnostics, machine states, production recipes and product information,” stated Dr. Ludwig Leurs, co-chair of ODVA’s SIG for Machinery Information and engineering manager of Ethernet convergence for Bosch Rexroth. “The SmartFactory demonstrator will allow the SIG participants to prove out the concepts in ODVA’s machine data model before completing final specification for the model and its mapping to the protocol standards.”

“The concept of ODVA’s machine data model is groundbreaking because it applies the concept of “Things” as conceived in the Industrial Internet of Things to the machine itself,” said Katherine Voss, ODVA president and executive director. “The alignment of SmartFactory with the Industrie 4.0 initiative, and thus the Industrial Internet of Things, makes the 2016 SmartFactory demonstrator an ideal venue to illustrate the benefits of ODVA’s concept of the machine.”

ODVA’s machine data model will be integrated into the Bosch Rexroth production cell for 2016 SmartFactory demonstrator that will premiere at Hannover Fair 2016 on April 25, 2016.

The Technology Initiative SmartFactory KL e.V. was founded in 2005 as a non-profit association to establish a network of industrial and research partners which initiate and implement together research and development projects ranging from base technologies to the development of marketable products.

Today SmartFactory is a manufacturer-independent demonstration and research platform and unique in Europe.