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Interface will simplify links between controls and the cloud

03 May, 2016

ODVA is to develop standards for gateway and interface technologies to move data between CIP-enabled industrial control systems (ICSs) containing EtherNet/IP and DeviceNet devices, and the cloud. The aim is to produce a specification for a “common industrial cloud interface”, based on open and interoperable standards supported by multiple vendors, that will allow cloud computing to support device management, process analytics, notifications, remote access, virtualisation, visualisation and – in the future – control. 

The interface will contain two main elements: a gateway appliance; and an application program interface (API) for transporting data from the gateway to the cloud, and from the cloud back to the ICS and its devices. ODVA does not plan to get involved in services and applications within the cloud itself.

The interface will lead to standards-based enterprise architectures, including cloud computing resources. It will optimise secure communications between devices, ICSs and the cloud, as well as simplifying common tasks that must be performed by the gateway.

Integrating a cloud interface into ODVA’s portfolio is part of its Optimisation 4.0 initiative, under which it is aggregating its vision of the Industrial Internet of Things.

ODVA president and executive director, Katherine Voss, announced the organisation’s plans at the recent Hannover Fair. “The addition of the Common Industrial Cloud Interface as a new ODVA technology,” she said, “paves the way for vendors of cloud-centric technologies to join with ODVA’s established community of device vendors in defining the Common Industrial Cloud Interface to accelerate the realisation of the fourth industrial revolution.”

Voss: accelerating the fourth industrial revolution

Craig Resnick, vice-president of the industrial analyst ARC Advisory Group, sees the cloud as “a critically important technology to manufacturers”, because it “provides a common, economical, globally accessible repository for plant data, drawings, layouts, equipment, and infrastructure information.

“However,” he adds, “what has impeded its growth with some manufacturers is questions regarding the security and reliability of the communication interfaces between the cloud and the automation infrastructure – and a lack of standards and guidelines focused on these critical issues.” ARC believes that ODVA’s cloud interface will address these issues, and give manufacturers the confidence to take advantage of the cloud.

ODVA will start work on defining its industrial cloud interface technology with the formation of a special interest group in mid-2016.

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