OPC Goes Global with Expanded Training, Standards Efforts

Thomas Burke, president and executive director of the OPC Foundation, summarizes major OPC developments in 2008 and looks forward to new opportunities for 2009.

Aw 3464 Burke Photo
Welcome to the November edition of OPConnect, the official newsletter of the OPC Foundation. As this is the final issue of OPConnect for 2008, I’d like to wrap up some of our recent successes and highlight our plans for 2009.

One of the major items the OPC Foundation has been working on is OPC Unified Architecture (UA) development. By facilitating vendor adoption of OPC UA, we anticipate that by the end of 2009 there will be more than 40 vendors who have support for OPC UA built into their products. This adoption curve is critical as OPC UA provides all the technology to completely interoperate and integrate existing classic OPC products into next-generation solutions.

Some of the ways the OPC Foundation is promoting vendor adoption include the OPC UA early adopter program, several OPC UA jumpstart programs, and interoperability workshops and plug-fests. In addition we are working with many vendors who are providing toolkits and/or consulting services to accelerate adoption and quality deployment of OPC UA-based products. This “happy family” of competitors working together in a cooperative and collaborative fashion insures the development of high-quality multi-vendor interoperable products, similar to the way the adoption of standards in the consumer electronics industry has led to plug-and-play systems.

In order to interoperate, products must be certified for OPC UA compliance. While in the past compliance may have been an afterthought, we currently have a strategy where OPC UA compliance information is designed into the base architecture, providing rock-solid reliable interoperability out the gate.

Expanded training events

The OPC Foundation has been proactive in the marketing and evangelism of OPC technology with the goal of improving the end-user experience. In 2008 the OPC Foundation hosted eight OPC vendor-neutral training events that were sponsored by 15 vendors. Next year the OPC Foundation will host training events in eight more cities in North America, as well as four cities in Germany. These no-cost training events—tailored for end-users, systems integrators and OEMs—provide education and entertainment, with food and prizes part of the standard fare.

In addition to an expanded training focus, the OPC Foundation will expand its efforts in 2009 to drive open standards internationally. We have aggressive growth plans for China, India, France, Africa and South America, and will continue expansion in Europe, North America and Japan in 2009 and 2010 with additional events and programs, including vertical industry trade shows and vendor-sponsored user conferences.

From a technology perspective, the OPC Foundation has enhanced OPC UA by extending the base and information models supported. To promote collaboration, the Foundation has formed several official working groups focused at developing companion specifications for various vertical markets. Specific working groups include EDDL, FDT, and the combination of EDDL & FDT called FDI. We also have working groups established for OpenO&M and PLCOpen. We are always looking to collaborate with other standard organizations that share our vision of secure reliable interoperability, and measure success by the level of adoption of the specifications and technology.

The OPC Foundation extends this attitude of cooperation and collaboration to the OPC community by welcoming your feedback. Please feel free to email me at thomas.burke@opcfoundation.org, with any suggestions or questions you may have. Stay tuned to the OPC Foundation Web site, newsletters and various emails for the latest opportunities for you to leverage the power of OPC.
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