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Exploring Industrial Intelligence at AVEVA World
Highlights and thoughts from the keynotes, conference sessions and expo
AVEVA outlined a much more consistent vision of the company following the OSIsoft PI acquisition and Schneider taking the reins
Much better integration of AVEVA, PI and Wonderware with the AVEVA Connect industrial cloud platform and AVEVA Data Hub for data sharing/analysis
Launching of the AVEVA Developer Program to establish an ecosystem of developers and partners to work with their open and neutral platform
Pontem Analytics is a Technology Partner in this program with access to development tools/sandboxes and technical support from AVEVA for our deployments with clients
A tech conference in San Fran…
AVEVA World has always been a great conference to attend, with a great attendence from the AVEVA product teams, operators, software vendors, technology companies and digital service providers. This year was no different with 3 days of keynotes, conference sessions and interactive expo exhibits to keep everyone interested.
With over 2,500 attendees and 14 concurrent conference sessions and industry tracks there was no shortage of information being shared. While I couldn’t get to all of them, I managed to get across some of the key themes I saw across the several days I was there.
The AVEVA stack is well known in the industry for their design tools, SCADA systems and data historians (OSIsoft PI is one of their systems). At Pontem, we consistently interact and utilize PI data for analysis and simulation of operations which led to the partnership agreement with AVEVA (more details here). It was great to catch up with the AVEVA team, clients and tech providers to understand the offering and how best to apply it to existing and emerging industries.
A consolidation of offerings
It’s been a busy time for AVEVA over the past couple of years. At last year’s AVEVA World the echos of the acquisition of OSIsoft from March 2021 were still reverberating, with still a lot of integration evidently ongoing. There was also the ongoing discussions about the acquisition of AVEVA by majority shareholder Schneider.
Now with another year of OSIsoft under their belt, with much better understanding of the value proposition of the PI historian and associated infrastructure, and the finalization of the Schneider acquisition with a new ex-Schneider CEO, the messaging from this year’s AVEVA World 2023 (AW23… it’s painful writing the full version out each time) was much more integrated and consistent across the AVEVA portfolio.
Gone were days of past where AVEVA’s key offerings were centered on the design and build phases of the project with E3D, Engineering and P&ID as the main pillars. With the combination of the legacy AVEVA suite of tools for design and build, legacy Wonderware systems for asset operation (now just AVEVA… I can’t say I’m going to miss that super groovy Wonderware logo) and the ubiquitous PI systems for operational data and optimization, this year’s conference presented much more of an end-to-end solution across the asset lifecycle.
That’s not to say that everything is completely stitched up, there is still a lot of work to be done in the transition of information and systems utilized in the design and build stages over to the operational phases… I’m yet to see anything really compelling from AVEVA to address this chasm. But to be fair I haven’t seen anything compelling from other platform systems either!
The missing link: Industrial Intelligence Platform
The key message from the Day 1 keynotes which was continued throughout the conference was the elevation of AVEVA Connect as the platform which will deliver the integration with Industrial Intelligence-as-a-Service (IIaaS… pronounced “EEEE Yass”, another in the long line of formidable asses out in the market). This is the cloud solution expected to bridge engineering, operations and business domains to deliver a seamless experience across the lifecycle.
The cloud-centric approach was very consistent across the conference with a focus on enabling solutions and technologies to unlock value with the ease of access to data and solutions. This approach is valid however there still remains a lot of clients and countries with significant data sovereignty constraints which require a nuanced approach to cloud deployments which was missing from much of the conversation on how to utilize this new evolution of systems.
Regardless, there was a distinct theme of system connection throughout proceedings which acknowledged the value and power of better data and information utilization across the whole stack from the foundational data elements to the analysis systems to the visualization components. All of which culminated in the buzzword of the conference: Ecosystem!
Not that this is a negative thing. AVEVA have really worked on their internal offering to try and bring things together but they were also very clear in their mission to open things up to software, technology and service partners with an open and neutral industrial platform.
One big happy family: AVEVA Development Community
I won’t bang on the drum anymore about our partnership with AVEVA but it was great to attend a Day 0 event on Monday focussed on rolling out the new development community and the developer partner program which comprises software companies, technology vendors, system integrators and digital service providers (like Pontem). At the moment the development program is focussed on AVEVA Data Hub as the enabling system, which sits within the AVEVA Connect cloud platform, but will expand out to other systems including SCADA, MES and APM.
In his opening keynote to the whole conference, Caspar Herzberg (AVEVA CEO) really focussed on this ecosystem as a key enabler for the success of the platform and the component systems.
Among other features and elements discussed at the keynotes and throughout the session there were lots of references to open data standards, open frameworks for solution integration, neutral platforms, and open architectures.
The key goal of this is to increase information access and sharing for trusted communities, opening things up a lot more to ingestion of data from other sources and systems and which enables the integration of third-party solutions into the AVEVA ecosystem (are you counting?).
Other bits and bobs
There were lots of really interesting snippets throughout the conference from the dev teams, clients and solution providers alike… here are a couple of aspects which stood out.
I was glad to see several sessions and mentions on the development, connection, integration and management of edge devices as part of the ecosystem. Using Open Message Format (OMF) for data ingress, REST API endpoints, and Modbus TCP/OPC UA/MQTT connectivity, the AVEVA Edge Data Store enables pretty solid edge deployment options which tie in to the rest of the stack in very flexible ways either through the normal layers or direct to AVEVA Connect.
There was a good level of acknowledgment of the increasing role of edge devices and the power of edge analytics in future operations and it was interesting to hear of several successful deployments of niche analytics on the edge. I think we’ll see much more of these solutions being successfully deployed and forming an important part of the ecosystem.
I am not an information management specialist, however I’ve become increasingly appreciative of the importance of setting a solid data and information framework to enable successful integration and contextualization of multiple data streams. There were a number of presentations which stressed the importance of utilizing Asset Frameworks to expedite the utilization and analysis of data from historians and asset systems.
Those that know me know that I have a passion for effective technical change management. I was stoked to hear so many clients and service providers highlight the critically of good communication, stakeholder engagement, and maintain/sustain support in their example solutions. One thing that surprised me was the tendency for super simplified solutions (SSS… I’m going to trademark it) to enable ease of deployment and adoption and the power of good visualizations and UX to facilitate ease of information ingestion.
It seems like AVEVA are finally coming together as a company and realizing some of the benefits of their OSIsoft acquisition. At Pontem we’re very aware of the value of the data which our client’s PI systems are accumulating and with the new Connect and Data Hub systems this will enable trusted communities and partners to unlock this value.
We’re looking forward to working with our clients, AVEVA, and other technology providers to see how the developer community and their ecosystem (#7) comes together but the scene is well set for success… let’s go after it!
I’m already looking forward to next year’s AVEVA World 2024 in Paris where we will be looking to share some success stories and sample their wonderful collection of bridges… “Vive la Pontem!”