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The Object Management Group and the OPC Foundation announced a collaborative strategy for market and technical interoperability for the two leading standards for the Industrial IoT (IIoT). The OMG and OPC Foundation have developed a technical positioning and FAQ document for usage of both the OMG Data Distribution Service™ (DDS) standard and the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) standard.

The positioning document explains that the DDS and OPC UA standards are largely complementary and compatible. Both are important to the future of the Industrial IoT. The document is a joint recommendation; it helps companies quickly implement an Industrial IoT strategy.

The Standards

OPC UA is an industrial communication architecture for platform independent, high performance, secure, reliable, and semantic interoperability between sensors, field devices, controllers, and applications at the shop-floor level in real-time as well as between the shop floor and the enterprise IT cloud. OPC UA allows SoA based easy “plug and produce” scenarios. The information about the system, its configuration, topology, and data context (the metadata) are exposed in the collective “address space” of the individual OPC UA servers. This data can be accessed by authorized OPC UA clients that can see what is available, and choose what to access. OPC UA truly supports timeless durability, as new networking technology is developed it can be plugged into OPC UA seamlessly. Client/Server, Pub/Sub and cloud protocols are integrated into OPC UA.

DDS provides location transparent, interoperable, secure, platform independent, real-time data sharing across any kind of network. DDS lets applications define and share user data with controlled “Quality of Service” (QoS) such as performance, scalability, reliability, durability and security. DDS hides network topology and connectivity details from the application, providing a simple yet powerful data-sharing abstraction that scales from local area networks to fog and cloud computing. It can support even large fan out and sub-millisecond latency. DDS defines a “common data-centric information model” so that applications can run “plug & play” with very little or no deployment configuration. System configuration details are deemphasized to ease redundancy and interoperability.

Today, there is little overlap between DDS and OPC UA in applications. Even when used in the same market (e.g. energy) the use cases are quite different. OPC UA provides client-server interaction between components such as devices or applications. DDS is a data-centric “bus” for integration and peer-to-peer data distribution. Because the focal applications and approaches for DDS and OPC UA are different, most applications clearly fit better with one or the other.

The OMG and OPC Foundation are working together on integration and have developed two ways for the technologies to work together. First, an “OPC UA/DDS gateway” will permit independent implementations to work together. Second, “OPC UA DDS Profile” will enable integrated use cases. Both are in active development.

Customers must choose a standard path now to implement a successful IIoT strategy. By working together, the DDS and OPC UA communities will provide a non-proprietary path to interoperability, regardless of the customer’s choice of starting technology.

This press release and the accompanying document are released by the standards development organizations responsible for both standards (OMG and the OPC Foundation), and supported by two major consortia using the standards (IIC and Industrie 4.0). It is a truly cooperative result of our joint drive to enable the Industrial IoT.

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