OPC UA Defined

What is this new OPC Unified Architecture that everyone is talking about? Tom Burke, OPC Foundation president and executive director, explains OPC UA technology and its role in secure, interoperable communications across the manufacturing enterprise.

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The OPC Unified Architecture is the OPC Foundation’s next-generation technology designed for secure, reliable interoperability from the shop floor to the top floor. It embodies the functionality of the existing—and successfully adopted—OPC standards based on Component Object Model (COM)/Distributed COM (DCOM) standards. OPC UA is designed to be independent of programming languages and platforms to address the needs of the embedded device market, as well as facilitate information exchange with the enterprise systems. 

OPC UA has been designed by the leaders of our industry. It embodies the industrialized, open versions of many of the existing proprietary architectures from the significant vendors in the automation industry. The UA developers integrated all the OPC specifications into a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that facilitates interoperability across corporate firewalls and across platforms in a secure, reliable fashion. OPC UA represents the migration from COM/DCOM to Microsoft’s SOA-based .Net technology. At the same time, it provides a complete infrastructure to support the collaborative opportunities for information discovery and information exchange between devices and applications in the support of a completely integrated open architecture.  

One of the primary measures of success for an industry standard is market adoption. The OPC standard enjoys significant market penetration, with more than 17,000 different OPC-based products available from more than 3,500 companies. Thousands of companies use OPC technology for secure, reliable, interoperable communications. OPC UA provides a solid migration plan for these existing OPC-based solutions and applications. By front-ending data as a wrapper on top of the existing legacy OPC installed base, OPC UA defines the wrapper technology that supports legacy OPC installations. Members of the OPC Foundation Early Adopter Program have jointly developed common OPC UA wrappers for existing Data Access (DA), Alarms & Events, and Historical Data Access (HDA) servers. 

Learn more at DevCon 

To find out more about OPC UA, the OPC Foundation invites you to attend the upcoming OPC UA Developers’ Conference, scheduled for June 25-28 in Scottsdale, Ariz. The focus of the conference is to provide end-users and vendors—particularly those that are the visionaries, designers, and architects at their respective companies-—the opportunity to understand the OPC Unified Architecture. 

The conference will highlight the importance of the collaboration undertaken with the information model providers, including the Hart Communication Foundation, the Fieldbus Foundation, the Profibus trade organizations, MIMOSA for machine health monitoring, and various groups with the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society (ISA), such as S95, ProdML, PackML and B2MML. The OPC Foundation is collaborating with these organizations to be the service-oriented architecture for the information models. OPC UA provides the necessary services for the exchange of information in a secure, reliable integrated environment between devices and applications. 

To register for the OPC UA Developers’ Conference, please click here.

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