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OPC Foundation Announces Developer Events, Certification Test Lab

Tom Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, discusses some 2008 highlights for OPC, including developer conferences, training events, independent certification testing and a technical advisory council.

Aw 2093 Opc Burke Photo

Welcome to the March 2008 edition of OPConnect, the official newsletter of the OPC Foundation. In 2008, the OPC Foundation is looking forward to many exciting events that are happening on both the technical and marketing fronts.

From a technical perspective, we are very excited about the launch of the OPC Unified Architecture. This is been an ongoing effort involving many volunteers to develop the OPC UA specifications and technology (reference implementation). The Foundation is now ready to allow the OPC vendors to release products based on the technology. By the end of this year, you will see a lot of vendors with products in the marketplace based on the OPC UA technology, including products for the embedded marketplace and products that support information exchange between control systems and IT.

Clear migration path

The most important thing to note with respect to the OPC Unified Architecture technology is the migration plan that has been established to the existing OPC systems. End users can be confident that their installed products will be carried forward to the new service-oriented architecture, taking advantage of the high reliability, quality and enhanced features of the OPC UA technology. Users can confidently continue to buy and deploy current OPC products with the assurance of a clear migration path.

As part of the rollout of the OPC UA technology, the Foundation will be hosting a hands-on developer workshop that provides a solid jump-start for vendors to build the best OPC UA products. This developer workshop will be held in North America in June. Complete details including logistics and registration for this important event are available on the OPC Foundation website.

In the fall of 2008, the Foundation will host an OPC Unified Architecture Developer conference in Europe. This particular event will feature many vendors showing products and product development. It will provide insight into the information model development activities that leverage the OPC UA as the service foundation for communication of respective data/information for multivendor interoperability. Targeted attendees for this event include participants of past developer conferences—to learn about the significant new announcements in the technology, security, platform independence and reliability—as well as people who have little or no experience with OPC UA. Featured at the event is a special session on the business-value proposition for multivendor interoperability using industry standards such as OPC UA. If your company develops software/hardware and has any interest in increasing revenue, lowering expenses or developing high quality products, you should attend this developer conference.

Independent certification testing

Another exciting technical development is the opening of the first OPC independent certification test lab in Europe, at the facilities of Ascolab lab in Erlangen, Germany. By the time you read this, we will have had approximately eight vendors who have tested their products in the independent certification lab. Currently, the focus of the lab is to test OPC products that have been deployed on the existing OPC data access, alarms and events, and historical data access specifications that were developed in the 1990s. The effort behind this is to increase the reliability and quality of the products already installed in the field.

We've also established a technical advisory council that helps drive the vision of where the OPC Foundation is going. A significant component of OPC is about collaboration and the partnerships that we are establishing with both vendors and other consortiums in the pursuit of multivendor interoperability. I’ve written in the past about the importance of collaboration. In 2008 we’ll see the fruits of our labors as many of the consortiums are actively developing companion specifications that will facilitate vendors building OPC UA products for their respective information systems.

On the marketing front, the OPC Foundation continues its widely successful OPC training events. This year we are holding eight events in North America and four additional events in Europe. Check the OPC Foundation website for details about these important events and the opportunity to learn how to optimize your use of the technology.

The OPC Foundation also sponsors a quarterly newsletter that highlights many of the successful deployments of multivendor products using OPC technology to solve real-world problems. As a matter of fact, this article you're reading right now is in the first edition of 2008. If someone forwarded this newsletter on to you and you would like your own copy, check the OPC Foundation website at to subscribe for your own free copy.

Please feel free to contact any of the OPC Foundation representatives, and make sure that your company is an active member of the OPC Foundation to capitalize on building and using OPC products.

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