Sunday, June 22, 2008

Business is booming for Wonderware

Wonderware hired another 200 employees this year for a total of around 500. I'm no expert, but this still seems "small" for a software company and big for "nitch" software. They're developing and marketing toward specific industries and growing worldwide. They're fighting for legitimacy in the "Enterprise", even while companies like their "partner" SAP tries to compete directly, and powering the olympics. They even recently started selling Panelview style hardware to run Intouch 10 on. Great job from the leading SCADA company.

Read more here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

OPC UA Coming to life!

Lots more OPC UA buzz - looks like it'll be really materializing soon - hopefully later this year. I personally can't wait! Remember, Iconics and Kepware already pledged to bring an end to end UA solution soon.

Edit - more contributions pointed out by Eric Murphy of Matrikon OPC portal

Another SCADA security vulnerability

What a great day - another SCADA security vulnerability uncovered! I don't want to see any industrial software fail, but I know the nitch products were written in a vacuum without security in mind. HMI packages are buggy and susceptible to attack - particularly the older ones still in use! We need to get over it, confront the issue, and fix it! Hopefully vendors have the integrity to self-test and release patches on their own, but this won't solve the problem. A developer simply can't find all of his own bugs in a test environment. The more computer security research groups start looking into these "little" but significant applications the better.

This time it was Citect, Wonderware had the last one. SCADA vendors be ready - you're next! That's you: Rockwell, GE, and Inductive Automation!

Friday, June 13, 2008

FireFox Download Day announced

Tuesday, 17JUN is Download Day (FireFox 3 if you havn't been paying attention)! Check out a graphical world pledge map here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rockwell Automation selects Matrikon OPC for FactoryTalk Suite

Press release from Matrikon and Rockwell Automation submitted to

It looks like Rockwell is finally learning not to try to reinvent the wheel with every product (ie homecooked remote DCOM via RSLinx Gateway) in favor of getting professional support from those that know best. Customers will be getting the benefit of OPC Tunneller (very important now for most remote cases, they could have already used but probably didn't know it, should become obsolete with OPC UA). They also get the benefit of various DCS, telemetry, and PLC drivers. I'm not sure what "IT" drivers are but it sounds good. New (and highly promoted) are building automation drivers such as: BACnet, Johnson Controls, and LonWorks, which is a welcome natural fit to HMI and SCADA systems.

I believe Rockwell has been working with Kepware's KepServer EX for RSView. Correct me if I'm wrong - I don't think it would help with programming tools (read RSLogix) or the FactoryTalk versions of their software (read RSView SE series).

It's nice to see more collaboration between industrial software companies.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The significance of updates

Software updates - What a sticky topic! Do you pay? Are they free? How frequently should you install them? Should they be installed automatically? In some cases you find yourself vulnerable to exploits by not upgrading. In this case, you might "brick" your home router. Yes, we're talking about Windows XP Service Pack 3. Changes to the network stack manage to send Billion "BiPAC 5200-series routers to go into a constant crash and reboot cycle".

Here's my take. In general, it's good practice to stay updated. I'd hold off on critical systems, especially in closed environments (not on the Internet). For those cases you might consider a policy of first upgrading a test environment. At the very least, schedule upgrades during times that will minimize downtime impact. And - have a backup!

The power of the people

I find myself frequently trying to convince industrial professionals to be active in their communities! Besides trade shows, I'm referring to forums. Specifically, MrPLC and PLCTalk. If you're not registered, go there! If you're not active - post a few. Try it, it's addictive!

In this case a member got a little voting help for a free home makeover. His place looked pretty bad and he deserved it, but it was the PLCTalk folks that made it happen.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Building Automation and OPC

An interview with Tom Burke of the OPC Foundation and Sean Leonard of Matrikon.

The interesting thing to me is how similar building automation is to industrial automation, yet how "stove piped" their respective products have been. Even the protocols, Leonard mentions "BACnet, Johnson Controls, and LonWorks", are totally different.

The interview rolls the grandiose OPC UA ambition into our sister industries, in addition to the direction you're used to, "up", namely Enterprise Integration. It focuses on OPC campaigning, providing interesting insight on what The Foundation is focusing on.

Good to see things moving forward. Early OPC UA buy in is going to be important.