OPC Foundation and Object Management Group (OMG) Announce Collaborative Strategy for the OPC UA and DDS Connectivity Standards

April 6, 2016
OPC Foundation and Object Management Group® today announced a collaborative strategy for marketing and technical interoperability for the two leading standards for the Industrial Internet of Things.

OPC Foundation and Object Management Group® (OMG®) today announced a collaborative strategy for marketing and technical interoperability for the two leading standards for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The OPC Foundation and OMG have developed a technical positioning and FAQ document for usage of both the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) and the OMG Data Distribution Service™ (DDS) standard.

The positioning document explains that the OPC UA and DDS standards are largely complementary and compatible. Both are important to the future of the IIoT. The document is a joint recommendation; it helps companies quickly implement an IIoT strategy.

The Standards

OPC UA is an industrial communication architecture for platform independent, high performance, secure, reliable, and semantic interoperability between sensors, field devices, controllers, and applications at the shop-floor level in real-time as well as between the shop floor and the enterprise IT cloud. OPC UA allows SoA based easy “plug and produce” scenarios. The information about the system, its configuration, topology, and data context (the meta data) are exposed in the collective “address space” of the individual OPC UA servers. This data can be accessed by authorized OPC UA clients that can see what is available, and choose what to access. OPC UA truly supports timeless durability as new networking technology is developed it can be plugged into OPC UA seamlessly. Client/Server, Pub/Sub and cloud protocols are integrated into OPC UA.

DDS provides location transparent, interoperable, secure, platform independent, real-time data sharing across any kind of network. DDS lets applications define and share user data with controlled “Quality of Service” (QoS) such as performance, scalability, reliability, durability and security. DDS hides network topology and connectivity details from the application, providing a simple yet powerful data-sharing abstraction that scales from local area networks to fog and cloud computing. It can support even large fan out and sub-millisecond latency. DDS defines a "common data-centric information model" so that applications can run "plug & play" with very little or no deployment configuration. System configuration details are deemphasized to ease redundancy and interoperability.

Today, there is little overlap between OPC UA and DDS in applications. Even when used in the same market (e.g. energy) the use cases are quite different. Today OPC UA provides client-server interaction between components such as devices or applications. DDS is a data-centric “bus” for integration and peer-to-peer data distribution. Because the focal applications and approaches for DDS and OPC UA are different, most applications clearly fit better with one or the other.

“The Internet of Everything, inclusive of IIoT, IoT, M2M, Industrie 4.0 (and the list goes on) is rapidly changing the way people think and operate in this new world of information integration and complete connectivity,” says Thomas J. Burke, OPC Foundation President & Executive Director. “The OPC Foundation is truly committed to information integration and interoperability, and the partnership and collaboration between the OPC Foundation (with OPC UA) and OMG and IIC provides the complete infrastructure and solution necessary for the suppliers and end-users to achieve complete connectivity and information integration.”

“The OMG® Data-Distribution Service™ protocol is the proven data-connectivity standard for Industrial Internet applications ranging from smart grids, healthcare, transportation, military and aerospace, simulation, unmanned vehicles, automation to smart energy,” said William Hoffman, president and COO of the Object Management Group®. “We are delighted to work with the OPC Foundation as the two communities continue their long history of bridging IIoT standards.”

“The OPC UA and OMG DDS standards complement each other. They are important to the success of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT),” said Dr. Richard Soley, executive director of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC). “One of the critical standards requirements coming out of the IIC testbed program is the need to link between standards. Today’s announcement is a milestone in bridging complementary standards.”

The OPC Foundation and OMG are working together on integration and have developed two ways for the technologies to work together. First, an “OPC UA/DDS gateway” will permit independent implementations to work together. Second, “OPC UA DDS Profile” will enable integrated use cases. Initial work to define both approaches is underway at the two standards organizations.

Customers must choose a standard path now to implement a successful IIoT strategy. By working together, the OPC UA and DDS communities will provide a non-proprietary path to interoperability, regardless of the customer’s choice of starting technology.

This press release and the accompanying document are supported by the standards development organizations responsible for both standards OPC Foundation and OMG. It is a truly cooperative result of our joint drive to enable the IIoT.

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