OPC Launches SI Program, Provides Certification Updates

Tom Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, highlights today’s top OPC developments, including the announcement of a system integrator and distributor membership class and an update on the new certification program.

Aw 2093 Opc Burke Photo

Welcome to the May 2008 edition of OPConnect, the official newsletter of the OPC Foundation. Industry has been abuzz with the many exciting developments underway for OPC. Here’s a peek at some of those top stories.

System integrator and distributor program

System integrators and distributors have played a significant role in the success of OPC by developing custom components that tie together shrink-wrapped products from multiple vendors in cohesive solutions. To recognize this role, the OPC Foundation has created a new membership class to facilitate SI and distributor requirements for advanced OPC training, software development and certification.

As part of the program, SI qualifications and capabilities will be promoted on the OPC Foundation Website. OPC vendors benefit from this program because they can now identify the system integrators that are certified OPC professionals. End users benefit from the assurance that the SIs they choose from the OPC Foundation list will exceed their expectations in delivering solutions leveraging OPC technology. For more information on the program, see related article in this newsletter.

Technical Advisory Council at work for you

In the past I've discussed the formation of the Technical Advisory Council and the important role its members serve in developing and executing the mission and vision of the OPC Foundation. The TAC recently held a strategic meeting at Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., after which its members participated in the Microsoft Manufacturing Forum.

To keep you in touch with the inside scoop on OPC, the Foundation has created a special blog for TAC on its Website. I encourage you to check this out, add your comments, and send us your requests for the type of information you would like to see the TAC members blog about. http://lists.opcfoundation.org/TACblog/default.aspx

Certification is rewarding

The OPC Foundation opened the first independent certification test lab in February 2008. Vendors have been testing their products in the lab, with Cyberlogic the first vendor to receive the “Certified” logo. The second vendor to achieve the highest level of certification in the independent certification test lab was Software Toolbox.

Software Toolbox has been part of the long-term core team of supporters of the OPC Compliance and Interoperability process. The efforts the team has put into developing a quality product capable of passing these rigorous new tests have paid off in Software Toolbox’s receiving the first Certified for Compliance designation for an OPC DA client product. I appreciate this level of dedication to OPC and know certification will be of value to its clients who use OPC Data Logger for text and off-the-shelf database format logging applications. Overall, the OPC user community will benefit from more reliable and interoperable OPC client products as more vendors put their OPC client products through this level of testing.

I recently asked John Weber, President of Software Toolbox, about the company’s experience with the OPC certification program and the independent certification test lab. "Our engineers found that using the OPC Analyzer tool provided for OPC clients and working with the new OPC Compliance Lab test specifications helped them to add to the reliability and interoperability of our OPC client implementations,” said Weber. “We know there was a great deal of experience and thought built into the Compliance Test Lab Specifications, and it really shows when you sit down and work through the process. We encourage other OPC client suppliers to invest in this process. Even if someone has been working with OPC for years, there are things that come from the process that benefit the end user, integrator, and OEM clients and, ultimately, reduce the supplier's product support costs.”

Weber continued, “Suppliers who use this new process will tap the collective knowledge of a wide range of OPC experts who helped to write the Compliance Test Lab Specifications. At the same time, we need to be clear to the user community that it will take some time for large numbers of vendors to get through this new process, so until that happens, they can still look to see if the products they use have been OPC Interoperability tested, if they are OPC clients, and OPC Compliance Tested if they are OPC Servers. Our experience with those two test programs over the last eight years has been equally beneficial to users and our own support costs. This new program just takes it up to a next level."

For more information on these developments, or to access the TAC blog, please visit the OPC Foundation Website at www.opcfoundation.org.

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