It's common in the automation space to just throw out the term "OPC" without any qualifiers when talking about what a software solution supports with respect to open connectivity to other software. But what does "OPC" mean for your specific software solution?
This blog post will discuss how important it is to know what an OPC tunneling solution is actually compatible with when talking about "OPC" since not all tunneling solutions use the same methods.
If your automation software supplier claims they handle remote OPC connectivity without DCOM, you really need to ask them what method they use to accomplish this, as there can be several methods to technically accomplish this but not all provide the same level of flexibility.
Currently in the process of choosing an OPC tunneling solution? Learn more about compatibility considerations and other variables in our free whitepaper "25 Considerations when choosing a tunneling solution".
Some suppliers of industrial automation software include a remote connector software component that is placed on a remote computer running OPC clients or servers and they use their own protocol to retrieve the data to their application. It’s common for such remote OPC connectivity to be proprietary in nature and to only be supported between that specific supplier’s applications.
Now, if you intend to stay with one supplier for all your software, this is fine. However, most users ultimately have more than one automation software supplier over the course of time.
If, for example, you have three different software applications and they all offer their own proprietary tunneling, and they need to connect to your OPC Server data sources, then you will have three tunnels to configure, maintain and secure. That means three times the traffic, three things to learn, and three things to worry about. Not very scalable, right?
However, if the tunneling solution actually does support tunneling data from any OPC Server to any OPC Client, regardless of vendor, you avoid that constraint. You end up with one solution to configure, maintain and secure. And you gain the efficiencies of scale and throughput by only having one solution.
And, as one additional point of clarity, your automation software supplier needs to elaborate on what actual OPC specifications are supported for tunneling with their solution. Does the tunneling solution support only OPC DA Classic? Does the solution support OPC A&E Classic or OPC UA? Make sure the tunneling solution supports the OPC specifications you actually need to connect your OPC clients and servers.Choosing a tunneler that supports any supplier’s OPC solutions will lower your training costs, risks, and network bandwidth usage, ensuring being able to take full advantage of your investment in OPC technology and not getting locked into a single supplier for all your needs.
Compatibility with other OPC vendors is just one of the many considerations when choosing a tunneler - learn about the other variables you should be considering in the free whitepaper “25 Considerations when choosing a tunneling solution”.