Microsoft adds OPC support to IIoT applications

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Company to support Open Platform Communications standard across IoT offerings 

Microsoft says it is working with the Open Platform Communications Foundation to enable almost any industrial internet of things network through interoperability between the millions of applications and industrial equipment compliant with the OPC Unified Architecture standard.

Microsoft will further enable its IIoT customers to connect a broad range of manufacturing equipment and software that can span decades of investment with extended support of the OPC UA open source software stack.

Interoperability between devices and assets is critical for today’s factories, which are increasingly bringing new and legacy systems online and modernizing their plants and facilities. 

OPC UA provides a standardized communication, security, and metadata and semantics abstraction for the majority of industrial equipment. It also serves as a gateway to cloud-enabled industrial equipment, including data and device management, insights, and machine learning capabilities for equipment that was not de­signed with these capabilities built in.

Microsoft’s extended support for the OPC UA open source software stack spans its IoT offerings, from local connectivity with Windows devices to cloud connectivity via the Microsoft Azure platform.

Integration with Azure IoT allows customers to send OPC UA telemetry data to the Azure cloud, as well as to command and control their OPC UA devices remotely from the Azure cloud, says Microsoft.

In addition, Windows 10 devices running the Universal Windows Platform can connect and openly communicate with other IoT devices via OPC UA.

Sam George, director, Azure internet of things at Microsoft, says: “As Industry 4.0 reaches a tipping point, we believe that openness and interoperability between hardware, software and services will help manufacturers transform how they operate and create solutions that benefit employees’ productivity.

“Microsoft’s support of OPC UA in Azure IoT and Windows IoT will reduce barriers to industrial IoT adoption and help deliver immediate value.”

Thomas Burke, OPC Foundation president and executive director, says: “OPC UA is widely recognized as a key communication technology for the Industry 4.0 initiative.”

He adds: “Microsoft’s support for standards that foster IoT innovation, and specifically for OPC and OPC UA, results in easy, direct and more secure communications from programmable logic controllers on the shop floor to the top-floor world of IT.”

Stefan Hoppe, OPC Foundation vice president, says: “OPC UA is the single, neutral, widely accepted standard to embrace the complex world of automation devices to easily and securely connect them everywhere.

“With the adoption by Microsoft to its Windows 10 operating system and Azure cloud, the OPC UA standard passes the critical milestone of general acceptance by the broader IT world.”

Microsoft made the announcement at Hannover Messe.

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