By Ron Breault
The Open Group recently held the first ever Interoperability Event (“IoP”) for the Open Process Automation Forum, or OPAF. This was an eagerly anticipated activity among OPAF members, who had worked hard in preparation for this testing for months in advance. I’m happy to say that the event was a complete success, with more achieved than expected, including a few interesting surprises along the way!
The International Society of Automation (ISA) hosted the Interop Event at their Headquarter in Durham, N.C., June 10th though June 14th. Despite this being the first OPAF IoP, there were 15 member companies who took part (including mine) with a few special guests from the DTMF (formerly known as the Distributed Management Task Force), who participated to observe OPAF member’s use of the DTMF Redfish standard, an IT device management technology which is included in the O-PAS™ standard.
All in all, there were 32 people actively working at the event, with 25 prototypes and/or products exercised during the testing. Now stop and let that sink in for a minute: The Open Group Preliminary Standard “O-PAS™ Standard, Version 1.0” was just released in the first quarter of this year, and now here we are in the second quarter and there are already over two dozen different elements able to engage in IoP testing! The Open Group and OPAF member companies must be doing something right to make this kind of progress so quickly. True, the hard work on the standard began more than a year ago, but this is a conservative industry (Process Automation), one that that moves forward very carefully, so I believe that makes the success of this IoP so much more noteworthy!
So what do I mean when I say the event was a success? Products and prototypes from multiple companies – in many cases market competitors and rivals – were able to programmatically communicate and exchange appropriate information with each other, following the published open standards detailed in O-PAS™. Participants collectively executed over 300 multivendor test cases over the week, some involving simulated I/O equipment provided for the purpose by ExxonMobil, others leveraging specific software test harnesses and/or 3rd party tools.
By the end of the week, all participants came away with a better grasp of the O-PAS™ standard, and were able to provide valuable feedback to address minor specification inconsistences, and improve O-PAS™ clarity where it was deemed necessary. These changes will be incorporated into future O-PAS™ versions to the benefit of all members. The DTMF guests were also active over the week, helpfully answering detailed questions on the Redfish specifications, and learning how they may further improve their work based on the testing they observed. In short, everyone involved came away with something positive.
I definitely call that a success! In fact, those of us involved in planning these IoP events are already starting to discuss when we can hold the next one, IoP #2. Preliminary thinking is that we’ll target early 2020, with details to be worked out over the next quarter. Stay tuned!
So what were the interesting surprises along the way? Well, I’d love to tell you more, but after all, “What happens at Interop, Stays at Interop”!