Software Toolbox Technical Blog

Tech Update: New Releases, DCOM Alternatives & Tech Tips

5 min read

By John Weber on Mar 9, 2023 2:00:00 PM

This week's post is a technical update to share news about updates released for DataHub and OPC Data Logger, reminders about the value of the Tech Support corner, and your last warning about DCOM Hardening before the Windows update next week!

The team is working on some more tech tips and video tutorials that you'll start seeing later this month. Meanwhile, here's this week's update.

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DCOM Hardening & Your Alternatives to Eliminate Security Risk & Stress

10 min read

By Kevin Rutherford on Jun 16, 2022 2:00:00 PM

If you’re reading this post, you’ve almost certainly at least heard of DCOM. And, possibly, you’re one of many who have struggled over the years with the trials of configuring remote OPC Classic connections between machines where DCOM inevitably increased your time and difficulty for what should be a relatively painless task.

DCOM Hardening is Permanent in 6d 1h 34m 0s

DCOM hardening with no option to disable it is coming up fast - March 14, 2023. If you haven't already made a plan to either migrate away from DCOM communications entirely or address how to keep your process systems that will still rely on remote OPC Classic over DCOM working reliably, time is running out. Downtime is costly and a system that is using OPC Classic and hasn't been evaluated to determine the effects of DCOM hardening could be vulnerable to communication breaks.

This blog post discusses 6 types of options to relieve DCOM hardening pain. These include alternatives to DCOM that cover a range of use cases depending on what software you already have installed and your existing system architecture. We also have a comprehensive guide that you'll be able to request that addresses what DCOM changes will be needed if you're not in a position to migrate currently.  Our technical support team are also willing to discuss your specific requirements with you, so you're not on your own out there! 

Software Toolbox Products DCOM Readiness and Action FAQs

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5 Key Considerations For Choosing Tunneling Solutions for Remote OPC

7 min read

By Win Worrall on Jul 16, 2020 2:00:00 PM

OPC continues to be the standard of choice for interoperability between software and hardware in the multi-vendor real world, with wide adoption of OPC DA Classic still in the majority compared to OPC UA. Accessing remote OPC Classic data sources (i.e. OPC clients and servers are on separate machines and, sometimes, even networks) can be challenging due to a reliance on Microsoft DCOM technology for security and authentication on remote OPC connections.

Anyone who has ever heard of or dealt with configuring DCOM security for remote OPC connections knows it has its challenges.  The good news is that there is an alternative to DCOM for remote OPC Classic connectivity - a solution referred to as OPC tunneling.  In the blog post, we'll discuss five of the key considerations to remember as you're evaluating the best OPC tunneling solution for your projects.

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Tech Support Corner: DCOM Resources for Easier Troubleshooting

5 min read

By Kevin Rutherford on Jan 9, 2020 2:00:00 PM

DCOM security and its headaches continue to be a popular support topic - our DCOM tutorial videos consistently receive the most visits each month.  Speak to any OPC Classic user in the industrial automation space and they always have their own horror stories about fighting the woes of DCOM.

In our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post provides you with a high-level review of the troubleshooting resources we make available to our users including a DCOM companion checklist that can be used with our DCOM tutorials.

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Tech Support Corner: DCOM Horror Story - Part 2 - Locked Out With No Key

5 min read

By Kevin Rutherford on May 30, 2019 2:00:00 PM

DCOM Security and the headaches it tends to create are undoubtedly familiar to any OPC Classic user in the industrial automation industry. Stories about experienced DCOM woes are just part of the territory.

In this second part of a "DCOM Horror Stories" sidebar to our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers a DCOM user scenario where the user was a little too thorough in locking down their DCOM configuration, resulting in a locked out system. And it includes a reminder of options that help you avoid DCOM configuration altogether.

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Tech Support Corner: DCOM Horror Story - Part 1 - When Cortana Loses Her Voice

6 min read

By Kevin Rutherford on May 16, 2019 2:00:00 PM

Any OPC Classic user in the industrial automation industry has almost certainly had their interactions with Windows DCOM security.  And most, if not all, are stories that we all shake our heads at and nod in understanding of the difficulties of traversing the pitfalls of DCOM security configuration.

In this first part of a "DCOM Horror Stories" sidebar to our continuing Tech Support Corner blog series, this blog post covers a DCOM user scenario involving the Microsoft Windows Cortana search capabilities being sidelined by DCOM security misconfiguration. Additionally, it covers what options are out there for avoiding DCOM entirely for situations like this.

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OPC Connectivity & Security Concerns in IT/OT Convergence

6 min read

By John Weber on Dec 20, 2016 2:00:00 PM

Complications of Domains, Workgroups, & Mixed Windows Versions & Solutions

In the Operations Technology or OT world that most of our users live in, it’s normal to have multiple versions of Windows and systems that may not always be setup consistently but we have to make it all work anyway.   Connecting OPC clients and servers when the Windows computers are not on the same version, not in an Active Directory or, using older terminology, a domain, and having everything work well takes skill, and keeping it secure involves a lot of details.

In this blog post, our team asked me to explore with you the details involved to assist you with better understanding Windows Security and to converse more productively with your IT Team.  I’ll also share how you can learn more about how to make things easier on yourself through the use of OPC UA or with Tunneling.

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How Redundancy Can Define Success or Failure in a Control System

3 min read

By Win Worrall on Jul 12, 2016 2:01:29 PM

This is Part 9 of our “25 Things to Consider when Choosing an OPC Tunnel” series.  Will a tunneler support redundant tunnel paths?

Redundancy is typically a more complex topic than it might sound especially if your automation control architecture is extensive and has multiple layers.  Redundancy has different meanings to different people for different applications.

This blog post will outline reasons why it's important for an OPC tunneling solution to support redundant paths for applications where it is essential minimize the risks of failure when transferring your control data and what questions to ask.

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