The word tunneling, when it comes to industrial automation and data, typically goes together with OPC. OPC tunneling is generally the most common form of tunneling, but what if your data sources aren't OPC?
What if you have more than just OPC clients and servers in your architecture and those non-OPC data sources have vital information that needs to be collected and shared with your other systems?
This blog post will discuss why it's important for a tunneler solution to support more than just OPC-capable data sources in a diverse control system.
If you're reading this post then you are likely considering a tunneling solution for sharing data in your control system. Notice, I said control system and didn't mention OPC exclusively. OPC has revolutionized interoperability between software systems since it's inception over 20 years ago, making it possible for systems that likely wouldn't have been able to communicate to share data.
Nonetheless, OPC is still only one piece of the puzzle in most modern control systems. More than likely, you at least have the need to share data with ODBC data sources such as databases and possibly even DDE servers or clients. Some applications may even require sharing data via CSV file.
Currently in the process of choosing a tunneling solution? Learn more about data source considerations and other variables in our free whitepaper "25 Considerations when choosing a tunneling solution".
Since some tunneling solutions transfer actual OPC calls and not just the raw data, the likelihood that they support more than just OPC data sources is small. If you're considering a tunneling solution then, as a first step, make sure to evaluate all of the different sources of data in your control system that you'd like to be able to share. If you have more than just OPC data sources, discuss with the vendor whether or not they even support those other sources.
Alternately, some tunneling solutions transfer only the raw data and not the OPC calls themselves. These solutions are typically only limited by the data sources they support - in other words, data can easily be shared between different data sources, as long as they are supported. You could share OPC data with ODBC or DDE applications, DDE data with OPC clients or ODBC databases or any combination of what the solution supported.
It's rare that OPC is the only technology in a control system. Many control systems are pieced together with different technologies from decades of system changes. For the most effective and efficient sharing of remote data, make sure to select a tunneling solution that provides the data sources and compatibility your system requires.
Data source support and compatibility are just one considration - learn about the other variables you should be considering in the free whitepaper “25 Considerations when choosing a tunneling solution”.