Microsoft is working with the OPC Foundation to enable greater application of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the manufacturing industry.
In supporting the OPC UA standard across IoT offerings, including Azure IoT Suite and Universal Windows Platform, Microsoft will further enable its industrial IoT customers to connect a broad range of manufacturing equipment and software, according to the company.
Interoperability between devices and assets is critical for today's factories, which are increasingly bringing new and legacy systems online and modernising their plants and facilities, Microsoft says.
OPC UA provides a standardised 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. In addition, Windows 10 devices running the Universal Windows Platform can connect and openly communicate with other IoT devices via OPC UA.
"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," says Sam George, Microsoft Azure Internet of Things director.
"Microsoft's support of OPC UA in Azure IoT and Windows IoT will reduce barriers to industrial IoT adoption and help deliver immediate value,” he says.
"OPC UA is widely recognised as a key communication technology for the Industry 4.0 initiative," says Thomas J. Burke, OPC Foundation president and executive director.
"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,” he 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," says Stefan Hoppe, OPC Foundation vice president.
"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,” he says.