Alliances Advance Edge to Cloud Analytics and Computing

Alliances Advance Edge to Cloud Analytics and Computing

Much of the interesting activity in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) space lately happens at the edge of the network. IT companies such as Dell Technologies and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have built upon their core technologies to develop powerful edge computing devices. Recently Bedrock Automation and Opto 22 on the OT side have also built interesting edge devices.

I’ve long maintained that all this technology—from intelligent sensing to cloud databases—means little without ways to make sense of the data. One company I rarely hear from is FogHorn Systems. This developer of edge intelligence software has recently been quite active on the partnership front. One announcement regards Wind River and the other Google.

FogHorn and Wind River (an Intel company) have teamed to integrate FogHorn’s Lightning edge analytics and machine learning platform with Wind River’s software, including Wind River Helix Device Cloud, Wind River Titanium Control, and Wind River Linux. This offering is said to accelerate harnessing the power of IIoT data. Specifically, FogHorn enables organizations to place data analytics and machine learning as close to the data source as possible; Wind River provides the technology to support manageability of edge devices across their lifecycle, virtualization for workload consolidation, and software portability via containerization.

“Wind River’s collaboration with FogHorn will solve two big challenges in Industrial IoT today, getting analytics and machine learning close to the devices generating the data, and managing thousands to hundreds of thousands of endpoints across their product lifecycle,” said Michael Krutz, Chief Product Officer at Wind River. “We’re very excited about this integrated solution, and the significant value it will deliver to our joint customers globally.”

FogHorn’s Lightning product portfolio embeds edge intelligence directly into small-footprint IoT devices. By enabling data processing at or near the source of sensor data, FogHorn eliminates the need to send terabytes of data to the cloud for processing.

“Large organizations with complex, multi-site IoT deployments are faced with the challenge of not only pushing advanced analytics and machine learning close to the source of the data, but also the provisioning and maintenance of a high volume and variety of edge devices,” said Kevin Duffy, VP of Business Development at FogHorn. “FogHorn and Wind River together deliver the industry’s most comprehensive solution to addressing both sides of this complex IoT device equation.”

Meanwhile, FogHorn Systems also announced a collaboration with Google Cloud IoT Core to simplify the deployment and maximize the business impact of Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications.

The companies have teamed up to integrate Lightning edge analytics and machine learning platform with Cloud IoT Core.

“Cloud IoT Core simply and securely brings the power of Google Cloud’s world-class data infrastructure capabilities to the IIoT market,” said Antony Passemard, Head of IoT Product Management at Google Cloud. “By combining industry-leading edge intelligence from FogHorn, we’ve created a fully-integrated edge and cloud solution that maximizes the insights gained from every IoT device. We think it’s a very powerful combination at exactly the right time.”

Device data captured by Cloud IoT Core gets published to Cloud Pub/Sub for downstream analytics. Businesses can conduct ad hoc analysis using Google BigQuery, run advanced analytics, and apply machine learning with Cloud Machine Learning Engine, or visualize IoT data results with rich reports and dashboards in Google Data Studio.

“Our integration with Google Cloud harmonizes the workload and creates new efficiencies from the edge to the cloud across a range of dimensions,” said David King, CEO at FogHorn. “This approach simplifies the rollout of innovative, outcome-based IIoT initiatives to improve organizations’ competitive edge globally, and we are thrilled to bring this collaboration to market with Google Cloud.”

Industrial Internet Consortium Releases Endpoint Security Best Practices White Paper

Industrial Internet Consortium Releases Endpoint Security Best Practices White Paper

Security comes first to mind whenever we begin discussing connecting things in an industrial setting. And, of course, nothing connects things like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). One place we often fail to consider in our security planning is at the endpoint of the network. Organizations and companies have been providing valuable assistance to developers by releasing best practices white papers. Here is one from a leading Industrial Internet organization.

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) announced publication of the Endpoint Security Best Practices white paper. It is a concise document that equipment manufacturers, critical infrastructure operators, integrators and others can reference to implement the countermeasures and controls they need to ensure the safety, security and reliability of IoT endpoint devices. Endpoints include edge devices such as sensors, actuators, pumps, flow meters, controllers and drives in industrial systems, embedded medical devices, electronic control units vehicle controls systems, as well as communications infrastructure and gateways.

“The number of attacks on industrial endpoints has grown rapidly in the last few years and has severe effects. Unreliable equipment can cause safety problems, customer dissatisfaction, liability and reduced profits,” said Steve Hanna, IIC white paper co-author, and Senior Principal, Infineon Technologies. “The Endpoint Security Best Practices white paper moves beyond general guidelines, providing specific recommendations by security level. Thus, equipment manufacturers, owners, operators and integrators are educated on how to apply existing best practices to achieve the needed security levels for their endpoints.”

The paper explores one of the six functional building blocks from the IIC Industrial Internet Security Framework (IISF): Endpoint Protection. The 13-page white paper distills key information about endpoint device security from industrial guidance and compliance frameworks, such as IEC 62443, NIST SP 800-53, and the IIC IISF.

Equipment manufacturers, industrial operators and integrators can use the Endpoint Security Best Practices document to understand how countermeasures or controls can be applied to achieve a particular security level (basic, enhanced, or critical) when building or upgrading industrial IoT endpoint systems, which they can determine through risk modeling and threat analysis.

“By describing best practices for implementing industrial security that are appropriate for agreed-upon security levels, we’re empowering industrial ecosystem participants to define and request the security they need,” said Dean Weber, IIC white paper co-author, and CTO, Mocana. “Integrators can build systems that meet customer security needs and equipment manufacturers can build products that provide necessary security features efficiently.”

While the white paper is primarily targeted at improving the security of new endpoints, the concepts can be used with legacy endpoints by employing gateways, network security, and security monitoring.

The full Endpoint Security Best Practices white paper and a list of IIC members who contributed can be found on the IIC website.

Production Optimization and Process Automation In ARC Forum Spotlight

Production Optimization and Process Automation In ARC Forum Spotlight

Today’s news from the ARC Forum concerns AspenTech and Emerson as we focus on process systems and asset optimization.

Only a few years ago it appeared that AspenTech was destined for some sort of demise—sold for parts or something. It has rebounded nicely since and last week announced enhancements to its production optimization solution and this partnership with Emerson. Collaboration being one of the sub-themes of the conference.

Emerson and AspenTech have teamed up to deliver asset optimization software solutions along with global automation technologies and operational consulting services.

AspenTech’s asset optimization supports Emerson’s Project Certainty and Operational Certainty initiatives. “Emerson’s global footprint, automation engineering services and software, extensive large-scale project execution and consulting capabilities complement AspenTech’s technology footprint. Collectively, these capabilities can be deployed as solutions in both conventional and cloud-based architectures.”

“Emerson and AspenTech are both highly focused on digital technologies and services that deliver measurable improvements and value to our customers’ bottom line,” says David N. Farr, chairman and CEO of Emerson. “Together, we are well positioned to help our customers navigate the best path in this era of digital transformation and achieve Top Quartile performance.” Top Quartile is defined as achieving operations and capital performance in the top 25 percent of peer companies.

The alliance will initially focus on three key areas: engineering software, including high-fidelity simulation to help validate project design and train operators before start-up; manufacturing and supply chain software, including advanced process control software designed for highly complex operations; and asset performance management software to improve plant reliability.

“Working with Emerson, we will help more organizations drive higher total shareholder returns with a relentless focus on operational excellence,” says Antonio Pietri, president and CEO of AspenTech. “We look forward to helping make the best companies even better by optimizing the design, operation and maintenance lifecycle with software and insight to run assets faster, safer, longer and greener.”

Emerson Updates

Meanwhile, Emerson hits themes of security, close to the edge (of the network), and OPC UA among many updates to its process automation system. It is expanding its Plantweb digital ecosystem with the launch of DeltaV version 14, a cybersecurity-certified control system designed to deliver new value in capital projects and make plant operations more connected and productive. The latest release provides significant innovations to the entire DeltaV architecture and was built with customers’ digital transformation initiatives in mind.

This major update to the DeltaV automation system includes several enhancements to eliminate costs and reduce complexity in capital projects, plus improve productivity during operations through enhanced access to production and equipment data, improved usability and greater security.

“More than ever, an integrated plant data environment is essential to achieve digital transformation. With DeltaV, we’re reducing the engineering effort required to securely connect plant, operational and information systems,” said Jamie Froedge, president of Process Systems and Solutions, Emerson Automation Solutions. “Our customers will have more capabilities in their distributed control and safety systems to help them successfully execute capital projects and optimize operations.”

Capital Project Flexibility

Continuing to advance the impact of DeltaV Electronic Marshalling with CHARMs on capital project engineering, CHARM I/O Block takes CHARMs—which achieved more than one million deployments at more than 1100 sites in only five years—closer to the field. Small enclosures with up to 12 CHARMs can now be installed closer to field devices, significantly reducing wiring and overall installation costs by as much as 60 percent and providing more engineering flexibility.

Smart Commissioning, launched in 2016, took one of most engineering intensive operations off a project’s critical path. Traditionally, commissioning has been a manual task that requires more than two hours per device for thousands of devices. Smart Commissioning reduced commissioning time to 25 minutes. Emerson is now expanding these capabilities and reducing device commissioning time to as little as 10 minutes, a nearly 93 percent reduction in costly commissioning time that could save several hundred-thousand dollars in engineering costs.

Mobility and User Experience

DeltaV Live Operator Interface is a modern, built-for-purpose operations experience that is easy to understand and modify. The HMI comes pre-engineered with the industry’s best practices for user experience including ISA 101.01 and is based on research with the Center for Operator Performance, a consortium of vendors and academia focused on human factors engineering. The HTML5 interface enables scalable graphics and gives operators the flexibility to adjust their displays to focus on process data that is most important for each situation. The new operator interface helps improve overall situational awareness and decision-making speed. Emerson is helping companies prepare for the shift to mobility with DeltaV Live by building a foundation for graphics to be transferrable across desktops, laptops, and mobile devices—all without additional engineering or custom scripting.

A Secure, Connected Plant

DeltaV will offer its users a new level of confidence and protection from cybersecurity threats by being one of the only systems to have a top-to-bottom cybersecurity certification. DeltaV v14 will be certified ISASecure SSA Level 1 by the International Society of Automation (ISA), signifying that Emerson developers are trained to write secure code and the system as a whole is hardened against cyber threats.

Emerson is making connecting a plant’s OT systems with IT systems seamless by expanding OPC UA access in its DeltaV hardware and software offerings. DeltaV is the pathway for most plant data and now using the IIoT’s most prevalent protocol, OPC UA, DeltaV applications and servers can securely share data to cloud analytics applications, remote monitoring solutions, and third-party technologies.

OPC Foundation Cites Advancements at Recent ARC Forum

OPC Foundation Cites Advancements at Recent ARC Forum

The OPC Foundation was active during the recent ARC Industry Forum in Orlando as a Platinum Sponsor and presenting a press conference. With OPC UA released and in use and the publish/subscribe about to be release, OPC Foundation’s emphasis has been on companion specifications. It had a joint press conference with the FieldComm group to discuss its joint working group and then released news of a released companion specification with Ethernet Powerlink. The last release, something I was able to work on pre-release review, concerns a study with ARC Advisory Group on adoption of the UA specification.

Below are some details. More at the Foundation website.

OPC and FieldComm

The OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group announced an alliance to advance process automation system multi-vendor interoperability and simplified integration by developing a standardized process automation device information model.

A joint working group between OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group, tasked with developing a protocol independent companion specification for process automation devices, was formed in late 2017. The goal of the working group is to leverage the extensive experience of FieldComm Group with the HART and FOUNDATION Fieldbus communication protocols to standardize data, information, and methods for all process automation devices through FDI using OPC UA. The OPC UA base information model and companion Device Information (DI) specification will be extended to include the generic definition and information associated with process automation devices.

The OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group have worked together for over a decade, initially working on the development of the EDDL specification and most recently on the creation of FDI technology.

“FDI provides the new standard for device integration to deliver a protocol independent path to configuration, diagnostics and runtime operation for process devices,” states Ted Masters, President and CEO of FieldComm Group. “The partnership between OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group further builds upon the common information model of both to deliver process automation data in context which is the key to enabling value from enterprise systems and analytics. The 350+ suppliers of devices and applications that are members of FieldComm Group have an opportunity to benefit from the key initiative to develop a standard process automation information model by their adoption of FDI and OPC UA technologies.”

“I’m excited that the OPC Foundation and FieldComm Group are working together on this important initiative, and will be partnering with other organizations, end-users and suppliers to make the dream of a standardized process automation device information model a reality. This is truly a breakthrough in our industry that will provide significant operational benefits across all points of the value chain,” states Thomas J. Burke, OPC Foundation President and Executive Director.

“This important collaboration will provide a solid foundation for standardization of devices that will serve as the base infrastructure for the numerous other collaborations that the OPC Foundation is doing across international boundaries,” says Stefan Hoppe, OPC Foundation Global Vice President.

The joint working group plans to release an extensible, future-proof process automation information model specification during the first quarter of 2019.

OPC and Powerlink

An OPC UA companion specification is now available for POWERLINK according to a joint announcement by the OPC Foundation and the Ethernet POWERLINK Standardization Group (EPSG). The companion specification describes how payload data is exchanged between POWERLINK and any OPC UA platform. The result is integrated communication from the sensor to the cloud.

“As technologies, OPC UA and POWERLINK complement each other perfectly,” emphasized Thomas Burke, President of the OPC Foundation, in his announcement. “POWERLINK is among the leading real-time bus systems used in plants and machinery. Together with OPC UA, POWERLINK networks can now communicate seamlessly and securely with the IT environment and into the cloud.”

“This specification allows OPC UA and POWERLINK to fuse into a single network,” added Stefan Schönegger, Managing Director of the EPSG. “We’re then able to join devices from different manufacturers and across different levels of the automation pyramid into a single, cohesive system.”

A joint working group between the OPC Foundation and the EPSG had been working on the specification since 2016. The document can be downloaded from the OPC Foundation website.

OPC UA Adoption

OPC Foundation announced today the release of an in-depth ARC Advisory Group report on the important role the OPC data connectivity standards play in control automation today and in future IIoT and Industrie4.0 based solutions.

Key ARC report findings confirmed that with an estimated global install base of over 45 million units, OPC is the de facto standard for open data connectivity and that OPC UA is well positioned to serve as the next data connectivity foundation for control automation applications in traditional industrial settings and new ones like building automation, transportation, and others. Key contributing factors to the continued success of OPC UA included the scalability, performance, and robustness of the technology and the large community of end-users, vendors, and other standards bodies actively working with the OPC Foundation to best utilize OPC UA in their applications.

According to Thomas Burke, OPC Foundation president, “the [ARC report] findings accurately reflect what we [OPC Foundation] have been seeing from an adoption and collaboration point of view. I highly recommend reading this ARC report for a high level perspective of what OPC UA is doing in the market and the future of data connectivity”

Commenting on the popularity of the OPC UA standard, Mr.Burke explained “OPC UA has something to offer for everyone from end-users and product vendors to other standards bodies. After people look at what is really out there as far as a single standard that has the scalability, performance, and flexibility to meet the challenges of modern data connectivity and interoperability and has the reputation and a large enough adoption base needed to make it a safe investment – they come to realize OPC UA is the real deal.”

“OPC technology has become a de facto global standard for moving data from industrial controls to visualization up to MES/ERP and IT cloud levels”, according to Craig Resnick, Vice President, ARC Advisory Group. “The rapid expansion of OPC UA in automation, IIoT, and into new, non-industrial markets suggests that OPC will remain an important technology for multivendor secured interoperability, plant floor-to-enterprise information integration, and a host of other applications yet to be envisioned.”

Embedded and Edge Capture Attention At ARC Forum

Embedded and Edge Capture Attention At ARC Forum

I was so busy during the ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum last week, that I just couldn’t find time to write coherently. The keyword was digital supplemented by embedded, edge, IIoT, security, and transformation.

The Forum attracted perhaps not only its largest attendance but also its largest attendance of end users. The things that appeal to me are those that fit into the Industrial Internet of Things the most. Here are two related new product releases. The first one involves embedding HMI/SCADA software and the second involves using that embedded software in addition to many other technologies for an edge device.

First is the announcement from Inductive Automation concerning the creation of its Ignition Onboard program. The program involves device manufacturers embedding Ignition and Ignition Edge software in the devices they manufacture.

The program includes Ignition Onboard and Ignition Edge Onboard. Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition Edge is a line of lightweight, limited, low-cost Ignition software products which empower solutions designed for edge-of-network use.

“Device manufacturers have joined Ignition Onboard in response to their customers’ demands for an all-in-one solution that contains hardware and software at a reasonable price,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “These are companies that understand the importance of building a strong IIoT, and we’re very happy to be collaborating with them.”

The other announcement came from Opto 22. This is a significant advance in edge devices for industrial and SCADA applications.
The new groov EPIC system from Opto 22 combines I/O, control, data processing, and visualization into one secure, maintainable, edge-of-network industrial system. groov EPIC lets engineers and developers focus on delivering value, not on triaging loosely connected components.

“We are a company of engineers inspired and driven to create products that unleash our customers’ imaginations,” says Mark Engman, Opto 22 CEO. “groov EPIC is a culmination of that mission, a response to industry requests to more wholly integrate IT and OT technologies, simplify development and deployment, and provide a platform for long-term growth now and well into the future.”

Combining reimagined intelligent I/O with an embedded Linux real-time controller, gateway functions, and an integrated display, groov EPIC offers field-proven industrial hardware design with a modern software ensemble, to produce the results that visionary engineers want today.

Connecting legacy systems, controlling processes and automating machines, subscribing to web services and creating mashups, acquiring and publishing data, visualizing that data wherever it is needed, and mobilizing operators—all of these are now within reach. In addition, groov EPIC simplifies commissioning and wiring and helps engineers develop rapidly and deploy quickly.

“The groov EPIC system incorporates in one unit everything needed to connect and control field and operational devices and data, through on-premises IT databases, spreadsheets and other software, to cloud storage and services—and back again,” says Benson Hougland, Opto 22 vice president of Marketing & Product Strategy. “This ability to easily exchange data and use it where needed opens opportunities automation engineers have not had until now. This is a truly new system that builds on the past but looks fundamentally to the future of our industry.”

Of particular interest to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will be optional access to the Linux operating system through secure shell (SSH). This access, along with toolchains and interpreters for Java, C/C++, Python, JavaScript/Node.js, and more, allows OEM developers to execute their own custom developed applications on this ruggedized, edge processing control system.

The main point of discussion between Benson and me lately is whether Sparkplug (from the developer of MQTT) is adequate for IoT applications. He favors the lightweight (technical, not pejorative) protocol or I tend to favor OPC UA over MQTT as a better overall solution due to its interoperability. But that’s OK. He and I have had these technical discussions for almost 20 years now. I love pushback, and I think Benson does as well. It raises the energy level.


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